Article by Marty Wilkinson
Worldwide Forestry-Business Development
Worldwide Construction & Forestry Div.
John Deere

Improvement in business often takes the form of small steps, not at the core of what the business does, but at the edges, or at the margins.

Over the past year, the mission of this column has been to help you examine the margins of your business, and improve them to increase efficiency and profitability, and ultimately run your business better.

Despite the significant challenges that lie ahead, the opportunity is there for the taking for loggers who choose a progressive approach. That will mean thinking differently and seeing the big picture, or what we at John Deere like to call looking out and looking forward.

Progressive loggers who look out and look forward are the ones who will be around in the long-term. They will build companies that acquire others, all while expanding the markets and regions they serve. They plan ahead and have a deep appreciation of the industry, the structures of the markets, the dynamics of change, the influences that impact their business and networks of people and resources needed be successful.

Our rally cry to you at the end of 2015 was to know who you want to be. That means to establish goals, to know what kind of company you want to have and to develop a plan to get there.

A new year is the perfect time to start. As we move into 2016, we want to continue to encourage you with tips and actionable insights you can explore and to help you find additional margins that will keep your business competitive in today’s forest industry. But this year, we’re taking a slightly different approach and tapping into other loggers and industry peers.

In our industry, the OEM, dealer partner and logger form a three-way partnership that contributes to the success and growth of a logging company. When structured correctly, this relationship is a win-win-win for all parties involved.

For the OEM who sells machines, we earn market share. For the dealer who sells parts and services, they earn long-term partnerships. And for the logger who uses the machines, they get the services and tools needed to become successful—with trusted partners to get them there.

Following are highlights of topics you can expect from At The Margins this year—all told through different perspectives of the three-way business partnership.

Practice Better Human Resources. People are the lifeblood of almost every industry, and logging faces a human resources crisis. Loggers need to work harder at attracting good people, developing them, and retaining them.

Trust in Technology. In today’s high-tech world, there are solutions to help you manage your machines. Telematics systems have advanced in recent years to provide you with new ways to help keep your forestry machines running. They can monitor all of the crucial systems and components of a machine. This lets you see how your machines are running, so you can provide instructions to your operators and technicians.

Financing 101. One of the most basic, components of a successful business is having reliable equipment. However, every owner comes to the point where he or she can no longer put off replacing a machine. The process of purchasing new equipment may seem daunting and overwhelming, but careful preparation is the key.

Get Back to Basics. Having structured programs in place should be an essential part of every logging operation. Whether your logging operation includes just a few machines or a large fleet, whether it involves five employees or 50, ensuring your team has proper tools in place is crucial, and will have a big impact on your bottom line in terms of profitability, efficiency and safety.

Loggers who build a strong business acumen and apply it to their work will be poised for long-term growth and success. We look forward to showing you how to put these tips into practice in the year ahead.