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Quality, accuracy integrity the focus

Quality, accuracy integrity the focus
Nathan Fogden (inset) says forestry is one of the hardest jobs in NZ - if not the hardest.

This winter Nathan Fogden’s contracting business, Inta-Wood Forestry planted 1200 hectares of trees across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.Predominantly working in commercial forestry for corporate owners, Inta-Wood Forestry also works with small woodlots for farmers and other private investors.

Hailing from a farming background, forestry has been Nathan’s life since he left school in the early 1990’s. Initially working for a contractor, the yearning to go out on his own came early in Nathan’s career and when the opportunity to do so arose he seized it with open arms.

After slowly building up his own crew, Inta-Wood Forestry was officially born in 1997 and now covers the Bay of Plenty and Waikato with four crews based in Tauranga, Rotorua and Hamilton.“We plant, prune and thin to waste forestry species,” says Nathan.

“If we’re planting on scrubby land we might have to do some pre-plant scrub cutting or even a bit of pre-plant spraying.  We will release spray the trees in spring if need be – sometimes we’ll recommend an aerial spray from a helicopter but on farm sites we typically spot spray to minimize the effect of what we do.”

Nathan encourages his clients – particularly small woodlot owners – to prune because the trees generally attract better value.Currently employing between 30 – 35 workers, Nathan says with the volume of work available the business should be more like 40 – 50 staff.

“We’re always battling to recruit and retain staff. Forestry is one of hardest jobs in New Zealand — if not the hardest. It’s physically demanding and the reality is you need people who have reasonably strong mental fortitude to be able to handle the work. At the end of the day, I need self-motivated people who want to work.”

Working in all weather conditions and always under pressure to get the work done during the winter months when the main focus is in planting, mental toughness and stamina plays a big part.

“We have quite high turnover because of how tough the job is. Realistically, we need to pay our people better given the work they do but we have to remain market competitive to get the work so it is a challenge.”A focus on quality, accuracy and integrity has underpinned Inta-Wood Forestry’s success over the years.

“I want to see my guys paid as professionals because they work hard. To be able to pay our guys better we have to be able to show that we are damned good at what we do. If we’re targeting 833 stems a hectare, that’s a four metre spacing between rows and three metres between trees and we expect our guys to be within 30 cm of that. And we care. We want well planted trees to start the forest right from the get go.”

“Growing up on his parents farm, Nathan appreciates that farmers are trying to make a living off their land, but there are times when it make’s sense to turn some of the land into forestry.“If they have a 35 degree on the slope of their dairy farm they probably don’t want cows up on it.”

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