Forestry: How to get into the logging business

By: Patrick Cox, Photography by: Patrick Cox

There are those that are born into the industry, having family that are already loggers, while others go through different channels to get into logging, such as polytech training or asking friends and colleagues to put in a good word with their employers.

Forestry: How to get into the logging business
How to get into the logging business

From there you worked your way up through the system, bought yourself an old second-hand machine and away you went. In today's world, this is far harder. Forestry owners are not looking for contractors with old equipment anymore as it means too much downtime and an increased likelihood of accidents.

What do you do if these options are not available? How do you get into a reputable forest company and secure a logging contract. The tender process is one, and this can be cut-throat and very competitive. Loyalty to any one contractor by forestry owners is outdated, as one contractor recently found out after twenty-two years when his tender price was a not accepted. Contractors with good quality equipment and an excellent safety record and reputation will still find work.

How do you make your logging company better? Do you keep a hands-on approach? Do you stay on the tools? Driving your own machines, picking up the chainsaw when required? Is this the way forward to see growth in your business?

Loggers need to become better business managers if they are to stay ahead of the game. For example, when you have finished your logging career, do you just sell off your equipment, go home, and retire? Or would you have your business structured in such a way that it is possible to sell it on to another identity who has no logging skills at all but has management skills at running any business.

This will be the model used by an entrepreneurial person, who has just purchased a block of land with a large stand of pines on the property. How does this person go about realising the full potential and return on his investment? The easiest way is to just engage a forestry company to do the job for you, because of your lack of knowledge you trust what they tell you and your expected return.

Then you start to question the total value of the trees and the small percentage in dollar value that you will receive. Now is the time to bring your management and entrepreneurial skills to the fore and look at the option of managing your own logging operation.

The formation of an advisory board of experts in the fields is required, such as logging contractors, forest planners, financial advisors, log sales and machinery experts. The owner/manager of the plantation at this point needs to understand that he does not have the practical skills to complete the work. What he does have is the business acumen to form the company, engage the personnel, negotiate the log sale, listen to his advisors and develop new and innovative ways for the logging industry. This whole exercise started in the first place to maximise the return of the trees to the owner.

This formation of new-age type harvesting company is what the industry needs — an advisory board of experts making up a group of wise heads for better planning and sharing of ideas, rather than being constantly opposing each other every time a tender is let.

The contractors need to develop and manage their logging businesses so they show continued growth, that they are building a business that others are prepared to invest in, or would be prepared to purchase. It is very rare within the forest industry for a logging contractor to sell his logging business but it happens in the trucking industry, so why is it so different?

Change is about to happen and it needs to happen. The industry needs a bigger voice, managing its safety and profit margins. It's time for the entrepreneurial business manager to step into the logging industry. You do not have to start at the tree face and work your way up through the industry. Surround yourself with an advisory board of experts and manage your company in a professional and business-like way for long-term growth and expansion.

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