Article by Jari Mennala, Director
Forestry Sales & Marketing
U.S., Canada, Latin America

Let’s reflect on the past 12 months and consider how to prepare for the year ahead. Loggers are facing more challenges than ever, from dealing with increasing market pressures to managing employee recruitment and retention.

The multitude of challenges re­quires loggers to be smart and to adapt to constant changes. The modern logger doesn’t ignore the past—it helped shape who they are as a business owner—but combines years of experience with new innovations and business strategies to prepare for a successful future.

Cultivate Employees—It is widely known that one of the biggest challenges loggers face is finding good, reliable operators. As more loggers age out of the profession, there are not enough young employees willing and prepared to take over.

Loggers need to take action to recruit new employees. Consider getting involved with local organizations and trade schools to help educate students who may have not considered a career in logging. When new employees are hired, focus on cultivating them. Clearly define your expectations and invest in educational opportunities to ensure your workers are prepped for the job and growing on a professional level.

Become An Effective Manager—Loggers are being asked to wear many hats as business owners. One of the more important jobs is the management of employees. It is important to hold employees to predetermined standards and guidelines and address employee concerns and help them grow as professionals.

Outline rules, processes and standards for your employees to follow and abide by. When new employees are on board, clearly outline your expectations and set standards. This eliminates confusion and sets the bar from the first day they step onto the job.

It is important to develop employees by exposing them to various parts of the business. Discuss potential areas of interest and find ways to help them get involved. With a broader understanding, employees may feel more connected to the business and be more forthcoming with ideas. There may be a new way of doing things that could ultimately increase your profitability.

Adapt To New Technology—Manufacturers are evolving, introducing new technology to increase the profitability of operators and to streamline business operations. While a wealth of knowledge is available, many loggers are resisting change and not taking advantage of the opportunities right at their fingertips. While new technology solutions may seem intimidating and complex, they have simplified business management and equipment maintenance.

Loggers who adapt and take advantage of resources will thrive and rise above the competition. As mills continue to ask more of loggers, the margin for error continues to narrow, requiring loggers to work with better efficiency and accuracy.

Anticipate The Future—As a business owner, it is important to constantly look to the future, identifying what’s next for the industry. The market is constantly fluctuating and loggers should be keeping track of trends and plan for increases or decreases in work.

To make it easier, it is important to align with supportive partners to ensure that your operation can keep up with the ever-changing industry. Your equipment dealer can be a great resource for new machine purchases, trade-ins, and financing. By having partners that not only understand your business, but also the complexity of the logging industry, you can help set up your business for success.

There will always be challenges in the logging industry, but that doesn’t limit the amount of opportunities. A new year presents an opportunity to adjust your business strategy and adopt new processes that will help ensure long-term success. Reflect on the past and analyze what has worked and what needs to be changed. Speak with your trusted partners, including your dealer and financial advisor, to get a full view of your business and ways you can improve your operation.