Bay of Plenty-based Jensen Logging is a family-owned and operated business, one where owner and founder Russell Jensen and daughter Rachael are in the process of succession planning for her to eventually take over running of the business.
Russell first started forestry contracting in 1976, establishing his company Jensen Logging in 1989, and which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
The company operates seven forestry crews in the Kiangaroa State Forest, the biggest forest plantation in New Zealand covering 2900 sq km in the Bay of Plenty region.
With a total of 55 employees, Jensen Logging works with contractors Timberlands, operating four tree-fell crews – with two carrying out large tree-fells, one road lining, and one salvage and clearing – plus three production thinning crews.
In addition, the company has a “special ops” contract where it helps out in the forest for emergency road clearing or when trees come down.
Rachael works in with her father and operations manager Russell Brown, across all aspects of managing the company.
“I work alongside Russell (Brown) quite closely, learning the ropes and the nuts and bolts of everything. And I’m loving it,” she says.
Before she joined her dad, Rachael had done a nursing degree, then started with admin and clerical duties, before moving into management roles.
And how did she get involved in the company?
“Dad has worked really hard his whole life; he’s faced a lot of challenges and carried so much for so many people, so I felt it was time he had a bit of a rest. This is his life and he still loves it; he's here most weeks doing something around the place,” she says.
“Anyway, I said to him a while back, ‘do you want me to start stepping up and giving a hand seeing if it's something that I like or something you would like me to do?’, and he was happy with that.
“I think it's working out really well and dad seems quite happy and generally the guys have accepted it and the feedback has been positive,” says Rachael.
“I've found most people very welcoming, very generous with wanting to teach me and help me. I do sometimes feel a bit intimidated as there's a lot of technical aspects to learn, and I'm probably better with people.
“But I think it balances out Russell and me quite well; he's extremely knowledgeable with the mechanical side and the general operations. And I tend to focus more on the people side.”
Rachael finds the work exciting and variable, which is something she likes about the job.
“Generally a day would be getting to the office go through the stocks and the production, go through any necessary health and safety matters, get all the paperwork and things done and setup.
“With Teresa Everson doing the finance side and Russell doing the operations, I have picked up the health and safety and the training side more. So we all have our little niche areas.
“And once all that admin stuff is done, I head out to the bush,” she says.
“Of late I've been predominantly working with our thinning crews, unfortunately the person running that had to leave us, so I've been filling that role until we can bring in someone else.
“I do try and get around to as many of the crew and our workers as I can, just touch base with everyone see where they're at, help out with anything that needs it and so on.
“And I love being out there; at the end of the day, that's where everything happens. You've got to be out there to know what the challenges are and what the issues are and talking to people,” she says.
To date Rachael’s not done that much machine operating, primarily due to time pressures, “but I do need to get out there some Saturdays and give it a go.
“Dad's always promoted and appreciated having woman operators in our crews.
“On our Komatsu PC400, which we sold a while back, we had a female operator; she was great and actually is still in the forestry industry – though not with us any more – plus we've got a female on a Komatsu loader.
“We find they are generally quite gentle with the machines; having said that, all our crews take pride in their machines and look after them. After all, at the end of the day, they probably sometimes spend more time in them than they do at home.”
Jensen Logging operates around 45 forestry-related machines, including 17 Komatsu units, split between Komatsu “yellow” construction machines and Komatsu “red” forestry machines, plus a further 45 light vehicles.
Rachael’s dad Russell bought his first Komatsu, a D41, around 35 years ago.
“I remember as little tykes we always had Komatsu scale models and on family holidays, we’d be in Rotorua sitting in the Komatsu yard waiting for dad to order another machine or having a catchup. So, yeah, Komatsu has been a part of our business for as long as I can remember,” she says.
The company’s two most recent Komatsu machines have been an 875 forwarder and a Timberpro forwarder bought in 2019.
“Generally, we’ve found the Komatsu machines are pretty reliable and the operators that operate them love them, they like the power of them and the pump flow and things like that, so the comments you get are very positive,” she says.
“Sometimes there's oddball issues that will come up and those can take a little while to resolve and can be frustrating through the process. But you get that with any machinery.
“On the whole I would say that they are solid, they’re reliable, they've got a lot of grunt in them. And they are fairly straightforward for the guys to diagnose things or any issues.
“And Dad has in the past bought Komatsu for specific operators that prefer them; he believes if you have an operator that is exceptional and does a great job, you want to keep them happy.
“You also need to keep the operator preference and attitude to the machine in mind, because if they are happy with the machine they will look after it and it will last,” Rachael says,
Our photo session with Rachael and the team was around Jensen Logging’s Komatsu PC300LC-8 fitted with a QS630 SouthStar harvester head, working with the company’s road lining crew.
“This crew typically spends about a week at a time on a block, cutting 5-10 m off each side of the road, then cutting the square for the skid site where the operations happen. So, they’re opening up the block, the roads and the skids, so when the harvesting crew gets there, all the infrastructure is ready.”
Komatsu National Marketing Manager, NZ
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