In my career I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s most influential people of the last two generations. Men who have built, shaped and molded the forest products industry. Bob Hege was just such a man. Where some accomplished great things by force of will, Bob did it with grace, patience and planning. In nearly thirty years of marketing work with Bob on behalf of Meadows Mills, Miner Edger and Andrus Sharpeners, I never recall a cross word. Bob always insisted on honest, straight forward ads that took the high road and never assailed his competition.

Like most influential people, Bob’s life was one of service to others. He gave himself to much more than just business, but to his family, country and community. He served in the US Army, attaining the rank of captain and received an Association of American States Commendation Medal. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Bob was an avid Wolfpack fan and served as president of the NCSU Alumni Association. In May 2017, Bob was honored to be inducted into the Wilkes County Hall of Fame where he held numerous service and leadership positions, including director of the Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce, North Wilkesboro Kiwanis Club, Wilkes United Way, Wilkes ADAP and Wells Fargo Wilkes County Advisory Board.

He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro. Supporting educational efforts in the community was a passion that included support for the College of Arts and Science Advancement Council at Appalachian State University and Wilkes Community College.

The one thing that mattered more than career and community involvement was family and friends. He is survived by his devoted wife and partner of 29 years, June Hege, of North Wilkesboro; his son Brian and spouse Alison, of Wilkesboro, and their children Luke Evan Hege and Lila Rose Hege; step-son Mark Adams and spouse Carolyn of Chapel Hill, and their children Wyatt and Silas. He is also survived by his brothers and their families: Dan Hege and spouse Libby; Thom Hege and spouse Harriet; Ben Hege and spouse Johnsie; Len Hege and spouse Lynne, all of Arcadia, North Carolina. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert A. Hege Jr and Diana DeLapp Hege, and his granddaughter Makayla Sue Hege.

Following a long and successful career in the sawmill and lumber business Tommy Piper has taken on a new challenge. Putting his lifetime of experience to work providing sawmill and pallet companies with a new option for used machinery. This new endeavor, named West Kentucky Sawmill Equipment, has one simple goal; to provide sawmills and pallet companies with quality, serviceable used equipment that is honestly represented. Tommy grew up in a family of sawmillers, two of his brothers are prominent members of the industry, Jimmy Piper, founder and owner of Piper’s Saw Shop and David Piper, Sales Consultant at Brewco, Inc. West Kentucky Sawmill equipment offers a wide selection of sawmill and pallet equipment from its large and expanding inventory, as well as solid advice based upon decades of real-world experience. To discuss your current needs, future expansion or production upgrades, call Tommy direct or visit his website.
Tommy Piper
123 ½ South St
Central City, KY 42330
[email protected]

Morbark, LLC (Morbark) announced today it had completed the acquisition of Rayco Manufacturing, Inc. (Rayco) This transaction represents the first addition since affiliates of the private equity firm Stellex Capital Management LP (Stellex) acquired Morbark in 2016. The purchase of Rayco represents a significant move towards the Company’s strategic focus on broadening the range of tree care and industrial equipment, aftermarket parts, and service offered to their Customers.

Rayco was founded in 1978 in Wooster, Ohio, by John M. Bowling, who as the owner of a tree care service identified the unique needs of the tree and landscape industry and began to build equipment to meet and surpass those needs. Today the company is dedicated to the design and production of an incredibly innovative line of environmental equipment. The current range of Rayco products includes: stump cutters, crawler trucks, forestry mulchers, multi-tool carriers, and attachments, brush chippers and the all-new AT71 aerial trimmer.

John Bowling, Chief Executive Officer of Rayco, stated, “Our family is very proud of the legacy we have established and nurtured over the past 39 years. As a family-run and -owned business, we view today’s transaction as an opportunity to continue growing our business while joining an even larger family.”

Dave Herr, Chief Executive Officer of Morbark, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Rayco to the Morbark portfolio of companies. Rayco is a company that our senior management team has admired for a long time. We value the long-standing success of Rayco and are committed to providing the Bowling family and their dedicated employees the resources they need to continue the success they have built.”

Transaction Highlights:

The transaction is a positive, strategic fit for both companies. Rayco brings a lineup of innovative equipment into the Morbark family across multiple product categories. In particular, Rayco stump cutters, aerial trimmers, forestry mulchers and crawler trucks will enhance and complement the existing Morbark family of products.
Rayco founder, John Bowling, will continue his work with the team to develop new products and help improve the company’s existing product lines. He will continue to have an economic interest in the combined business and will be a member of Morbark’s Board of Directors.
Morbark will operate Rayco as a new division maintaining its brand identity. Rayco’s experienced management team will continue to manage their operations. Teams from each company will work together to determine how to be more efficient and leverage each other’s strengths.

Herr continued, “Rayco has a well-deserved reputation for providing customers with the equipment and service they demand and the value they deserve. That product innovation and dedication will continue without interruption. We are excited by what we can bring to Rayco in the way of our experiences, our dealer network and products to complement current Rayco equipment owners.”

About Morbark, LLC

Morbark, LLC, based in Winn, Mich., has been innovating and manufacturing durable, high-performance equipment for forestry, recycling, tree care, sawmill and biomass markets for more than 60 years. Morbark equipment helps customers harvest, process and convert wood and other organic waste materials into valuable, useful and profitable products. The Company produces a full line of whole tree and waste wood chippers, flails, brush chippers, horizontal and tub grinders, sawmill equipment, material handling systems and more.

About Rayco Manufacturing, Inc.

Since 1978, Rayco has been one of the most recognizable brands in environmental, forestry, landscaping, and construction equipment. Rayco’s line of stump cutters, horizontal grinders, brush chippers, forestry mulchers, and rubber crawler trucks feature innovative designs and a range of options to suit any-sized job and budget, from landscaping to major construction projects. Rayco equipment is engineered and manufactured in Wooster, Ohio, and sold through an international dealer network offering equipment sales, rentals, parts, and accessories, including warranty and technical support. For more information, please visit

About Stellex Capital Management LP

Stellex is a private equity manager that invests in and oversees the US and European corporate assets. Stellex’s focus is on middle-market companies going through business or industry transitions, as well as special situation opportunities. Stellex seeks to identify and deploy capital in opportunities that have the potential to provide stability, improvement, and growth for its portfolio companies.