Meet the FICA Board

Ross Davis, FICA President

Forestry may be New Zealand’s third-largest industry but it’s extraordinarily under-recognised and under-valued, says FICA president Ross Davis.

“Forestry is a massive employer and contributor to our national economy,” he says. “At FICA we are trying to raise the profile of it and advocate for contractors with the Government, forest owners and more. This is such a great industry to be a part of and one that provides solid opportunities for families in terms of employment, financial stability and independence.”

Ross has been involved with forestry for more than 35 years. He started working in Murupara and in 1997, after running a small ground base crew he became the key supplier to CHHF in the Hauraki/Coromandel region. At the peak of business, he had five hauler crews and two ground base crews.

It was during this time his passion for haulers started to evolve and in 2001 he imported his first hauler from the United States. “As our numbers of haulers grew, it was a natural progression to lease them out to other contractors,” says Ross. And that marked the start of his company Log Lease Ltd which leases haulers and logging gear to contractors around the North Island.


“We pride ourselves on supplying durable, well-maintained logging gear,” he says. “Our high quality equipment helps contractors meet productivity demands efficiently and on time.”

Ross is hugely passionate about forestry. “As an industry we demonstrate innovation and are paving the way for improved safety, increased production and better working conditions. It is an exciting industry to be a part of and I am passionate about supporting the next generations of contractors through leadership and guidance.”

Ross, who is also a member of the Forestry Industry Safety Council board, says contracting gives people opportunities they may not have had before. “It is an industry that people sometimes fall into, but when you get it right, it can be a really rewarding one to be a part of.”

027 493 8460

ross@loglease.co.nz

Dale Ewers

Dale joined the forestry industry at just 14 years old and thrives on the challenges that logging provides. The veteran logger has developed a real passion for seeking a better way to harvest that is both safer and more efficient.

He and wife Christine own Moutere Logging in Nelson, one of New Zealand’s largest harvesting companies, as well as mechanical services and manufacturing company DC Equipment, producers of the Falcon Forestry Equipment range of mechanised logging equipment.

“There are a lot of good people in forestry,” says Dale. “People who are hard workers and dedicated to the industry. It is outdoors and challenging work with a lot of opportunities for mechanisation to make harvesting more productive and safer.”

DC Equipment has a strong focus on developing a range of technologies to make steep slope logging safer and more productive. “Whether that’s replacing breaker-outs with a hydraulic grapple carriage or substitution fallers on difficult hill sites with a felling head attached to a carriage – it is all about improving that safety factor.”

Dale feels the future is very positive for forestry in New Zealand with the cut continuing to increase. “Forestry has been around for a long time and has a big future with a large sustainable forest cut that needs to be harvested for many years to come,” he says. “Forestry is good for our country – it is a good source of employment and revenue for our local communities and a major money earner for New Zealand’s economy.”

027 438 5955

dale@logger.co.nz

Guy Gaddum

Guy started working in forestry as a teenager with his dad and quickly realised it was the industry for him. “With open air and the smell of diesel and dirt, it can’t be beat,” he says. As the owner of the Rotorua-based Gaddum Construction – which was established in 2009 – he and his crews do forestry road construction, maintenance, roadline salvage, forest engineering and planning, quarry stripping and crushing, and heavy haulage from Waihau Bay on the East Coast to Kawhia.

His 33 years’ experience in forestry stand him in good stead to have a holistic view of the industry. “Forestry offers a wonderfully diverse and varied career path for anybody wanting to get into it,” he says. “There are challenges around forestry’s social license to operate, ongoing skilled and motivated labour supply issues, and  as a result of that, increased mechanisation and automation, alongside ongoing ups and downs in the markets.”

However, it is an industry he is passionate about. “When it is going well, it is a very satisfying industry to be involved in, especially when you consider what can be done by person and machine.”

Guy holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry science (hons) and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Canterbury and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. He has many years’ experience as an independent director on a wide range of companies including Port Gisborne, Tauwhareparae Farms and QRS.

027 441 0866

gaddum@xtra.co.nz

Hamish Owen

Forestry has a huge role to play in New Zealand’s future if the nation is to have sustainable economic growth says Hamish, a 28-year veteran of the industry who is now based in Whangarei. From his forestry degree at the University of Canterbury in 1992 he moved straight into beech forest surveying in Westland. “I remember being helicoptered into the top of a valley and spending a few days wandering around doing surveys up the valley sides and trying not to look like a deer to the enthusiastic cullers who were also there,” says Hamish.

He also worked briefly for the local regional council, helping to plan re-afforestation in eroding Taranaki hill country during the planting boom, followed by a few years on the Coromandel managing, harvest planning and roading.

But  for the past 12 years he has been running his own hauler, groundbased, roading and quarry operations with his wife Rachel in Northland. “Forestry is a great land-based industry that is filled with genuine, hardworking people,” says Hamish. “The camaraderie and friendships made in this industry are something quite special.”

And he is confident in the future. “Wood fibre is such a versatile product and such a great carbon sink,” he says. It’s got a vital part to continue to play in New Zealand on multiple levels. “Forestry is very much a long term investment in building a sustainable future for our country.”

027 477 0565

hamish.owen@xtra.co.nz

Kevin Ihaka

It’s going to take a committed team effort to continue to create an environment in which sustainable professional forestry businesses can thrive, according to Kevin Ihaka who has been in the industry for nearly four decades.

He is well entrenched across many facets of the industry both as a business owner and through councils, boards and committees. “Forestry has the potential to provide sustainable economic support to the regions and create opportunities where they currently may not exist,” he says. Those opportunities include within the supply chain with the new investment Government has made in the Billion Trees Project in which Kevin says FICA must be a key player. “Forestry supply chains have traditionally been volatile with a lot of uncertainty for contractors. We need to work with the Government and sector to create the environment in which those sustainable professional businesses can thrive.”

Kevin first dipped into the forestry industry in the 1980s when he was involved with forest establishment and protection. Over the years he has had staff and crews on fire assignments in five countries. The Whangarei-based managing director of FPS Forestry works across a silviculture, fire, forest maintenance and more and over the years has seen the industry roll through some massive changes. It’s an industry he holds dear to his heart, none-the-least because of the people involved. “It is my firm belief that we need to take a holistic view of our businesses and improve across all aspects of them for a safer environment for all.”

021 798 177

kevin.ihaka@forestprotection.co.nz

Robert Stubbs

Robert is hugely passionate about the industry he has worked in for 25 years – the last 18 at the helm of his company Stubbs Contractors, a forestry logging business. For him, there are two things that make it a standout – the people and the environment.

"Forestry is good for the people of our country and is a significant contributor to New Zealand's economy, environment and technology base while helping individual communities and their wider well-being," says Robert.

He came into forestry straight after school, working for local contractors before heading to the mines in Australia for a year. On his return, he was straight into the logging industry and worked for six years operating and managing Dewes Contractors road lining crews before going out on his own as an owner operator for Juken NZ.

However, a motocross accident saw him confined to a wheelchair for life as a paraplegic. His business has flourished and now employs more than 40 staff across four hauler logging crews and a roading crew who operate a wide variety of equipment in sometimes challenging terrain and conditions.

Robert's focus is on the business plan, crew planning, organising of equipment, managing the staff and occasionally stepping in to operate the heavy machinery himself.

027 217 5858

robert@stubbsltd.co.nz

Sonya Elmiger

It’s no surprise Sonya has paved a career in an industry that supports forestry.

 

She grew up in a forestry family – her father was a contractor and she spent many a weekend in the bush with him while he worked. “Back in those days we were allowed to sit with him on his skidder while he pulled logs,” says the Taupo-based accountant. “It’s a bit different now! As far as I know, my dad was the first contractor to produce 500 tonnes a day on a regular basis with a single rope skidder in the Kaingaroa Forests. I am very proud to have continued our family’s involvement in the industry.”

While Sonya is no longer found out in the bush, she is a director of Blackburne Group Chartered Accountants, helping forestry contractors nationwide. The Group has been dealing with contractors for more than 30 years and it’s the perfect fit for Sonya who not only has a genuine passion for the industry but also understands it so well. “The people who are involved in forestry and their great work ethic make it a very special industry to be a part of,” she says.

She is hopeful the future will be even brighter for them all. “Hopefully it holds greater recognition and reward for the contractors who work so hard to operate within forestry, managing their crews in what is often a very challenging environment.”

She is pleased to see that contractors appear to have more of a voice these days and she encourages them to continue to step up and voice any concerns they may have, particularly over the continued practice of low contract rates from forest owners and managers. “These sorts of practices are not sustainable or safe for our industry.”

That said, Sonya says that while forestry can be extremely tough, it is also a hugely rewarding one to be a part of.

027 373 0910

sonya@blackburnegroup.co.nz

Steven Yeoman

For Steven, a ground-based logging contractor from Taupo, forestry is all about the people and the environment. He came into the industry in 1995 after graduating with a Bachelor of Forestry Science (hons) degree from the University of Canterbury. Apart from the usual Kiwi OE, he’s been involved ever since. He loves the outdoor nature of his work but knows it is an industry with challenges.

“The key to our industry’s sustainability is in our workforce and environmental practices,” says Steven who is also on the Industry Training Committee. “I see value in contributing to the foundation education services that will deliver the next generation of forestry workers.” 

For the past 20 years, he has worked as a ground-based logging contractor, starting out in Hawke’s Bay with a small roadlining crew, and growing to have two fully mechanised crews in the Central North Island.

His company Volcanic Plateau Logging has been rewarded for its quality-driven efforts, winning Training Company of the year at the 2013 FITEC National training Awards. Steven’s ethos when it comes to business focuses on hard-working, reliable crews, that deliver a quality result safely.

“It is a multi-faceted workspace where the quality of your machinery manufacturers, the service providers, the trucking companies uplifting your wood, together with planning from the forest managers, all contribute to a successful logging operation,” he says. “In New Zealand we have some very talented and innovative people working in the forestry industry, and that’s what makes it a very special one to be involved with. I think it has a solid future.”

021 277 4414

steve@volcanicplateaulogging.co.nz

Tony Gamble

The future of forestry looks bright thanks to advances in technology and more diverse uses for wood fibre, according to Tony. He’s ridden the highs and lows of an industry he has been involved with for 37 years, joining as a schoolboy, working for his father.

Throughout a very diversified career, Tony has worked predominantly for City Forests where there is a keen eye to quality of work and health and safety. These days he is running his own company Gamble Forest Harvesting, a single high production mechanised grapple yarding crew in the Otago coastal forests.

“There is no shortage of leaders and innovators in the forestry industry,” says Tony. “We face constant pressures for improvement in safety and environmental impacts which are mirrored by the need to maintain productivity and keep costs down.”

He has seen plenty of changes in his time in the industry. “As contractors, our businesses are more capital intensive and complex compared to 30 years ago when I started contracting. However, with this ever-changing environment there is an opportunity for contractors to develop strong partnerships with customers beyond the historical short term contract, allowing all parties to benefit.”

Forestry had given him the opportunity to build a career and a sustainable business.

“Sustainability is key for us all,” says Tony, “and particularly now more than ever. A sustainable industry needs a sustainable contractor to ensure we maintain our position in the global market.”

For this Dunedin-based forester, it is the people who make the industry what it is.

027 435 2989

agamble@xtra.co.nz

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