Con­fi­dence and trust plays a ma­jor role in busi­ness suc­cess

Australian Forests and Timber - - AUSTIMBER 2016 -

AC­CORD­ING TO Tabeel Trad­ing’s Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Steve Witherow their pur­chases of 11 Ko­matsu For­est ma­chines over the last 18 months re­volves around two key points ... con­fi­dence and trust.

Run­ning a suc­cess­ful forestry log­ging/chip­ping/ haulage busi­ness is more than just util­is­ing ma­chines ... it is about the people; the busi­ness re­la­tion­ships; the trust; the con­fi­dence. With a cur­rent work­force of 108 the ob­vi­ous ques­tion was how do you keep track of things? and his re­ply said it all ... “Good people. You can’t run a busi­ness like this with­out good people, and that’s my main fo­cus. It’s not about the ma­chin­ery, it’s about the people, and ev­ery­one is equally im­por­tant and fam­ily is most im­por­tant.”

And that in­cludes a long-stand­ing busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with Ko­matsu For­est.

Steve and his re­cently de­ceased fa­ther John have cre­ated a long and suc­cess­ful log­ging busi­ness when mov­ing to Mt Gam­bier for the sal­vage op­er­a­tion just af­ter the Ash Wed­nes­day fires in 1983.”It all de­vel­oped from there,” says Steve.

When the fire sal­vage work fin­ished they moved into green plan­ta­tions. “Our first har­vester in 1986 was a Kato ex­ca­va­tor with a Steyr pro­cess­ing head; it was very early days for mech­a­ni­sa­tion. We were just pro­duc­ing long length pulp, and More­land Log­ging had kicked off with the first KF prod­ucts... the Val­met GP940 mounted on a Su­mit­omo ex­ca­va­tor.

“From there it started to de­velop even more as man­u­fac­tur­ers caught up with ev­ery­thing that we (con­trac­tors) wanted as they were pretty dirty and rough bits of gear at that point of time,” Steve re­calls.

“In 1986 we be­gan our con­tract­ing with the Woods and For­est Depart­ment (the SA Gov­ern­ment) and from there it pro­gressed through those years in con­tracts, we even­tu­ally branched out and started work­ing for CSR. That is when we got into chip­ping

and took over what was CSR’s har­vest and haul di­vi­sion which was not cost ef­fec­tive as a mill op­er­a­tion. At that stage we had 15 people be­fore we took over the CSR har­vest and haul di­vi­sion and then it jumped to about 50.”

Tabeel’s first Ko­matsu (Val­met) came in 1988, a Val­met 892 for­warder ... the start of the Ko­matsu For­est Aus­tralia con­nec­tion. “That was when we met Bren­ton Yon and it just grew from there. Since then we’ve had nearly ev­ery model they’ve made, from sin­gle grips to twin grips to their for­warders; even their Tim­bco range of Feller Bunch­ers. We also run quite a num­ber of Peter­son ma­chines which is now un­der the KF ban­ner in Aus­tralia.”

Steve ex­plained that it wasn’t just buy­ing equip­ment from KF, “it’s more a long stand­ing busi­ness ar­range­ment that’s worked for both com­pa­nies. In some cases they may not have the best prod­uct but they are prob­a­bly the best com­pany for us to be deal­ing with.”

When asked whether there was any one model that stood out over the years he didn’t hes­i­tate in re­spond­ing ...”At one point we pur­chased four black 911 Har­vesters. I got one ma­chine to run through two con­tracts ... it did a 10 year con­tract ! We traded it in and bought it back twice ... and we have still got it to­day. So, it’s re­ally been a clas­sic as we traded it in and bought it back twice. It’s a train­ing ma­chine ... for op­er­a­tors to learn in. When they first re­leased the se­ries we jumped on them be­cause they were very pro­duc­tive and for their time they were well ad­vanced,” said Steve.

“Ko­matsu For­est’s backup and sup­port is the stand­out. If you have a prob­lem with a par­tic­u­lar item of equip­ment they work on the prob­lem and come up with a res­o­lu­tion. “They’re not just about sell­ing ma­chines and leav­ing you with a heap of prob­lems. They sup­port their prod­uct. They are a tight crew from top to bot­tom so if you have an is­sue they get the mes­sage fairly quickly. Yes, Ko­matsu For­est Aus­tralia have been good to deal with.

“While Ko­matsu For­est Aus­tralia are con­sid­ered a very ex­pe­ri­enced sup­plier of har­vest­ing equip­ment, they now have ex­tended their prod­uct line by be­com­ing the dealer for the Peter­son chip­per and green waste prod­uct line which has been another plus for us.”

The lat­est hy­brid Peter­son flail chip­per has spe­cial rel­e­vance for Tabeel ... “we were on the de­sign team with Peter­son”, says Steve. “That’s been another ar­range­ment that re­ally came about be­cause of Ko­matsu For­est’s in­sis­tence of get­ting on board with what the cus­tomer wanted, not nec­es­sar­ily what they thought the cus­tomer should have. That’s worked out well.” This new ma­chine will be on dis­play at AUSTim­ber.

“Ko­matsu For­est have been in the coun­try for a long time and are re­garded as be­ing a rep­utable sup­plier and have been very sup­port­ive of con­trac­tors over the years as well as

sup­port­ing many in­dus­try groups. We see them as good busi­ness part­ners but we don’t al­ways buy their equip­ment . We’ve got 19 har­vesters, 15 for­warders and 7 ex­ca­va­tors of var­i­ous breeds, but the ma­jor­ity are KF prod­ucts”.

Steve men­tioned the KF tech­ni­cians. “They’re the unsung he­roes ... they don’t get a lot of men­tion. These ma­chines are so tech­ni­cal to­day and you need the tech­ni­cians to be there to get them on line. They’re a very im­por­tant part of the pur­chase de­ci­sion, too.

“You look at who is who, who is avail­able for sup­port, where the spare parts are go­ing to come from. All these things in some way help make your de­ci­sion ... which Ko­matsu For­est have been good at most times.

“The tim­ber in­dus­try has been very good to us and it’s prob­a­bly the clean­est, green­est thing we could ever be in­volved with,” says Steve. “This area (Green Triangle) has been through down­turns but has rein­vented it­self with a vi­brant ex­port mar­ket with strong growth over the last two years in blue gum and some ex­pan­sion in the pine op­er­a­tions as well.”

This has re­quired a sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal in­vest­ment by Tabeel to meet these new de­mands over the last cou­ple of years with Steve’s shop­ping list at Ko­matsu For­est be­ing as fol­lows: 4 x 895s.

1 x 931.1

1 x 931 new gen

1 x 951

1 x S132

1x S92 1 x 5000 Peter­son Flail / Chip­per

1 x 6800 Peter­son Flail

1 x 6910 Peter­son Chip­per PC220LC-8

When asked what he most liked about the lat­est batch of equip­ment, Steve replied: “It’s early days but pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els and ma­chine up time is look­ing good”.

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