FORT KENT, Maine — Dustin Marquis looks pretty good in pink.
Good thing, too, since the 29-year-old northern Maine logger is going to be spending a big chunk of time surrounded by the color after painting his Tigercat feller buncher timber harvester bright pink as a quirky way to bring attention to a very serious cause.
“I was listening to people talking about someone being diagnosed with cancer not long ago,” Marquis said during an informal gathering at the pink machine Friday morning. “I went home and told my wife I could not imagine having to explain a cancer diagnosis to our kids.”
After hearing about more and more people in the area dealing with cancer, he decided to do something about it.
“I wanted to do something to give back to the area,” he said. “So I came up with an idea to raise funds based on the hours the feller buncher runs.”
It was a noble notion made more noticeable after Marquis’ employer, Mike Nadeau, owner of White Oak Inc., agreed to paint the giant machine bright pink.
“I have to say, it’s really pink,” Marquis said.
Pink may not be the signature color of loggers, but it is the color most closely associated with cancer awareness, and the feller buncher has already attracted attention from around the region.
“It’s really amazing how many people got involved with this,” Marquis said.
Sponsors and volunteers seemed to come out of the woodwork, all wanting to be a part of the project and the newly created fund-raising organization Loggers for Cancer.
It took about two weeks for the project to go from idea to reality.
“Dustin came up with the idea on a Friday afternoon and Mike [Nadeau] called me Saturday morning to see if we could make it happen,” Keith Michaud, sales manager at Fort Kent Tigercat dealership Frank Martin Sons, said. “By Monday it was a go.”
Down the road from Frank Martin Sons, the crew at commercial truck dealership Daigle & Houghton Inc. sandblasted the feller buncher down to bare metal, while Louis Roy at Roy Auto Parts-NAPA a bit farther down the street secured and donated the “Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Pink” paint.
The actual paint job was done in St. Francis at Nadeau’s White Oak garage.
“Everybody did their part to make it come together,” Michaud said. “It’s really amazing it came together so quick.”
Michaud next contacted Tigercat at their corporate offices in Brantford, Ontario, to make a fundraising pitch for Loggers for Cancer, and said he was blown away by the response.
“In my mind I would have been happy with $2,000,” Michaud said. “The amount they are committing is up to $100,000 [and] that is mind boggling.”
Tigercat is donating $2 for every hour the 2011 pink machine is in operation.
Based on its age and with proper care and maintenance, the feller buncher should last roughly another 30,000 hours.
Given that White Oak just marked its 200,000th hour on its Tigercat equipment — the company has seven feller bunchers operating in the Maine woods — there is little doubt the pink machine will meet and likely exceed its life expectancy.
“Our mission is to take White Oak Inc.’s newly renovated PINK 822C Tigercat feller
buncher [and] obtain sponsors to contribute an individually chosen amount per hour for the remaining life of this machine,” according to a release from Loggers for Cancer. “On a yearly basis, the hours will be tallied [and] each contributor will write a check, with half the proceeds going towards the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund and the remaining half to be donated towards the Maine Cancer Foundation, Women’s Cancer Fund, on behalf of Loggers for Cancer.”
For their part, White Oak Inc. and Marquis must keep the feller buncher painted pink and working in Maine.
“We are pretty excited about this,” Paul Iarocci, Tigercat’s director of marketing and communications said Friday afternoon from his office in Brantford. “I think it’s a great idea and I have to admit, no, I never thought I’d see a pink feller buncher.”
That’s a feeling shared by many of the loggers.
“I never thought I’d see this, but I would drive this feller buncher any day,” Charlie Nadeau, the 18-year-old son of Mike Nadeau, said on Friday.
The younger Nadeau was filling in for his dad, who was tied up working in the company garage all day.
“I am really proud of my dad and of White Oak,” Charlie Nadeau said. “Something like this has never been done before.”
Marquis said he has no qualms about manning the helm of a feller buncher which would be right at home parked in front of Barbie’s Malibu Dream House next to the Dream Car.
But he does have one fear.
“I know it’s going to get scratched the first time we take it into the woods,” he said. “I’m going to hate that.”
While the machine made its debut in Fort Kent this past week, it will hit the big time next weekend at the Northeastern Forest Products Equipment Expo in Bangor, where spectators are encouraged to jump on the Loggers for Cancer fundraising bandwagon.
“I think it’s going to get a lot of attention there,” Marquis said. “That’s a high visibility spot.”
Sponsors already on board with Tigercat with hourly donations include Frank Martin Sons Inc., Seven Island Land Co., Orion Timberlands, Maine Woods Co., Portage Wood Products, Moosewood Millworks and Daigle Oil Co.
A donation or sponsorship can be made by visiting the booth in Bangor during the Northeastern Forest Products Equipment Expo on May 17 and 18 or by calling Kayla Daigle at Frank Martin Sons at 800-822-6661.