........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

How great in ’78?


may get a bit sticky if the large ones don’t take on more contractors as per 50 per cent clauses etc.
....I do not advocate the abolishment of large company tenure – at least not at this point in time. The concept of

....Not being an economist – or an expert on anything – it seems as good a time as any to put a few thought down on what the new year might hold in store. Or better yet, what this inlet logger would like to see come about in the forest industry in ’78.
....First, there will certainly be a lot of talk about new forest legislation out of the Victoria Parliament Buildings. At this writing, mid-November, there have been no announcements except for the promise that the industry will have a chance to peruse the suggested legislation before it becomes law. That’s a plus.
....On these pages I have addressed remarks for many years for the need for more contract type loggers. Or, if you want to use high class language, independent small logging companies. I have based my words on one plain simple fact. Keep small business alive in the forest industry and you have a healthy forest industry.
....I have no argument with large com-pany logging camps except to say that they are taking the place of what could be several small business enterprises.
....There was a time when the then large companies had among their exe-cutives a goodly sprinkling of logger-type chaps. But, as manufacturing and marketing grew more and more sophisticated, the executive became more and more dominated by exe-cutives who excelled in this phase of the operation.
....Today, in most companies, the strength of decision making lies with the manufacturing and particularly mark-eting people. That’s where the action is in the concrete towers. And so the logging has been left in the hands of relatively few chaps who quite often have to fight their own boards of directors for some recognition of the loggers’ problems.


....Face up to it chaps – you really don’t like logging. You like manu-facturing – and you love marketing! And why not? There’s no competition in logging, just plain old sidehills and rain and wind and nasty things. Ah, but to design anew products and to beat the next-door-mill to new customers – now that is action!
....When I say that these fellows don’t like logging, don’t get me wrong. They love taking delegations of purchasing agents from some exotic land to show them the logging “show.” Very imp-ressive those big log loaders and log trucks and stuff. And a damn good selling point for paper towels too!
....But, it always intrigues me as to the lack of top echelon people who really visit their big camps to sit around and find out how things are going, on the sidehills, or to have a session with the safety committee or (heaven forbid) rap with the chokermen. Sure, I know the executive suite sometimes isn’t so sweet, and things get pretty busy. But then some of those chokerboys are pretty busy too, running around all day after high-speed, short yarding machines.
....Not enough attention is given to logging by the executives because of the mystique of logging to the uninitiated. Sure, the managers know, and the traveling managers know, but after that on the ladder upwards, the knowledgeable chaps seem to dis-appear.
....Some of the large companies seem to have more contractors (independent small logging companies) than others, and maybe there are getting to be a few more these days. But, it seems the reason there are a few more is not because they are wanted or needed or a good thing for the company – but because there are quiet pressures from government that the tree farm licenses

tree farms was a good one to guaran-tee the mills a steady flow of logs. But remem-ber, the system was sprung on us rather suddenly (got a memory like an elephant) and if there had been a bit more education to a lot of the smaller chaps at the time, no doubt many more would have wanted to take on a little old tree farm in the areas they had logged on for years under timber sales. But that is water over the dam and the system we now have prevails. That’s not to say that it will, in what was once called “in perpetuity” (now there’s a twenty five dollar word).
....I’ve heard it said by the large companies that they can’t find good competent contract loggers. Maybe they are right. But then they said that talking motion pictures would never replace the silents or that nobody would break Babe Ruth’s home run record. Everything changes – and the attitude that there are no good com-petent contractors out there will, or could, change too.
....In fact, there are all kinds of good capable lads within the very organiz-ations that make up the big companies. Sure they need financing – but who doesn’t these days? And the simple fact that so many good capable loggers are already acquainted with the large company policies only means that those companies will have contractors who know just what is expected of them when they are running their own business.
....If there ever was a need or a place for the proper mix of large company and small company it is now in our forest industry. The words now are cost and productivity in the language of economic survival. Where better to make these words realistic than with the well planned emergence of more contract loggers into the forest industry?
British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1978  
page 71

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....There is no question that the heat is on our forest industry – not just in B.C., but in all of Canada – as re-garding world competition of our wood and fibre products. And that competition will only increase in the years to come as the forests of other lands open up. Cheaper labor costs, quicker growing cycles, shorter dis-tances to markets and keen salesmen will challenge us for the marketplace as we have never been challenged before.
....If we are to sit around and wring our hands and despair of interference by government bureaucracy, high labor coast and low productivity, we will get nowhere. In a relative manner, all countries will face the same problems. The ones that face up to these real problems will have a far better chance of survival.
....We in Canada have the trees. We have one of the best trained work-forces in the world. And we have a good record of survival to this date. With this going for us, it seems that what we need most is to find ways to adapt to changing world conditions.
....Productivity gets kicked around a lot these days, and one gets a bit tired of listening to the talk of how our work force’s productivity has dropped. If it has, why has it? And if it’s so – what are we going to do about it?
....Productivity in mills and plants is a far more straight forward subject than in our logging camps. Modern tech-nology with all its push buttons works well in a modern mill. But in the forests it is a different matter and one must judge pretty carefully the so-called loss of productivity among loggers.
....As the good logging shows of the
valley bottoms disappear it is only natural that the hills will be tougher to log. We take a poorer quality of log out of the woods now than we did years ago because we can’t afford excessive waste.
....The competition for talented mach-inery men and mechanics has never been keener, what with other in-dustries vying for their talents. And the forest industry was never known for its far-sightedness in really training people for forest jobs until possibly just lately.
....From what I have observed over the years in this industry, the majority of the small independent logging companies gets a higher rate of pro-ductivity from the workforce than do the large company camps. I qualify that by saying – generally speaking. The reasons are fairly obvious.
....The small independent management gives the workforce a feeling of working for someone they can see as against the far-off leaders of a board of directors in a city somewhere on a continent. Logging is a unique job where every tree in the forest presents a different problem. A smaller, more tightly knit organization of men can respond to the problems of logging more efficiently than can a large organization. The initiative and moti-vation of the independent logger is more keen than in most large company operations simply because the inde-pendent has more at stake.
....Our industry in B.C. has recently completed a successful two-year con-tract between management and labor. It was negotiated in the most mature and responsible manner in the stormy history of forest negotiations. It should tell us something.
....Maybe what it tells us is that the time is ripe for the two sides to sit down and level with each other as to the future of our industry. – in light of competition from foreign lands. We simply must have labor-management peace if we are to meet that com-petition. There are intelligent people on both sides who know this. They could help each other prepare for that competition.
....More independent small logging companies; fewer big company logging camps; a developing trust between top management and top labor; and a realization that the sugar plum days are over for our forest industry. Those are the vital issues of this forest around us in ’78 – and down the road.

.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore
British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1978  
page 72