Loggers for life, the Fraser family has been working in the bush for five generations, starting with Mike’s Great Grandfather Robin who worked in forestry in Nydia Bay (Marlborough Sounds) around the turn of the 20th Century.
Mike’s grandfather Roy and father Don both carried on the family tradition. In 1972, Don and wife Doreen purchased a logging business off Bob Hunt, who Don was working for at the time.
“This was the beginning of the Fraser 03 Crew and Fraser Logging,” says Mike.
“Dad’s set up consisted of a loader, bulldozer and 5 men. They were pulling about 4-5 truck loads a day.”
In 1980, Mike joined his dad the operation after working as a Diesel Mechanic.
“I was surprised at how backward the industry was. There were no qualifications or training systems in place,” says Mike.
“It was a driving motivation for change and growth for me, as I took more of a leadership role in the business.”
The Fraser’s went on to purchase their first new machine, a CAT D6D Dozer, for 160k.
“It was a huge investment at the time and there were a lot of sleepless nights, for Dad especially,” says Mike.
“We then went on to purchase our first CAT 518 skidder and fitted a grapple the following year.”
Then in 1987, Mike took a financial interest in the business before purchasing full ownership of the crew in 1990.
“I bought a 1994 Hahn Harvester which was our first taste of mechanised processing” says Mike.
“I remember pulling over one day, sitting on a stump and wondering what the hell we’d done,” he laughs.
Working for Carter Holt Harvey in 1997, Mike received a contract termination letter as the company worked towards key supplier arrangements (which in hindsight was one of the worst things to happen to the contracting sector).
“Ross and Janet Wood were kind enough to offer us work as sub-contractors, which was a saving grace during that period really,” says Mike.
“Ross introduced us to mechanised felling, and in 1998 we had a fully mechanised operation running a CAT 325 with a Waratah Processing Head.”
The next period was one of growth, with Mike Fraser Logging securing a contract with Weyerhaeuser. At its peak size in the early 2000’s, the business had 10 crews including sub-contractors, machine share arrangements and owner-operators.
In 2022 the company was successful in securing a tender for a 400,000 tonne contract on Manuka Island in the Wairau Valley. Always adapting, it’s the first time the company has taken on a roading contract as well as harvesting.
The company employs 37 people including a and management team, with 4 fully mechanised crews pulling approximately 340,000 tonnes per year working in the 141 forest.
Mike says it’s been a journey and reaching the 50-year milestone is pretty special.
“Over the 50 years our strength has been in our people,” says Mike.
“Fraser Logging have been recognised over the years and won numerous awards. Through it all the motivation has been to create a better working environment for our people and develop better harvesting systems through mechanisation.”
Congratulations to FICA member Mike Fraser Logging, 50 years in business – too much!