Harvesting Your Woodlot
Business View Oceania interviews Conan Hemsworth, Director at CMH Contracting for our Clean and Green focus.
Since their founding in 1999, CMH Contracting has provided top quality forestry harvesting services for commercial forest owners operating in The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. The company uses production thinning and clear fell harvesting techniques to supply quality timber for domestic and international markets.
CMH Contracting is currently a team of 15 split across four crews, with hopes to expand to upwards of 20 staff in 2022. Led by Director Conan Hemsworth and operating under multiple forest owners in Taurango, Rotorua, and Matakana Island, CMH Contracting invests heavily in quality vehicles and equipment to assist workers in remaining safe and efficient while on site. Mr. Hemsworth begins, “We are a team of great skill and experience, and that shows in our work. We harvest quickly and efficiently to maximise returns for our forest owners, managers, and stakeholders whilst making sure our workmates are safe and well cared for. There is a great sense of partnership amongst our staff. In an industry as important to the New Zealand economy as ours, it’s important that we take pride in what we do and stay relevant to the market. We do that by making sure all of our gear is up to date and serviced regularly, and that our crews are trained up to meet industry standards.”
There is plenty of room to grow for those in New Zealand’s forestry industry, Mr. Hemsworth says. “There’s a fair bit of work around, given how crucial that work is to the economy. In the Bay of Plenty area, we are in a situation at the moment where the commercial forestry space has the right number of contractors, so nobody really has to fight for work, and we can focus on things like developing our businesses really clearly and looking at the newest innovations in machinery and harvesting techniques.” An example of CMH Contracting’s commitment to innovation is their used of wheeled harvesters as opposed to traditional attachment-based machinery.
Core values at CMH Contracting include flexibility, trust, productivity, honesty, loyalty, and equality. Staff work as a team alongside senior management; all opinions are considered, and workers are encouraged to regularly voice any ideas or concerns they may have in regards to their operation. The company takes a client-first approach to harvesting, and remains in consistent communication with forest managers. Mr. Hemsworth explains, “I don’t ask my staff to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. I’m pretty confident in that we are all friendly with one another, and we definitely have a lot of trust in each other to do the right thing. I take my role very seriously, and my guys can come to me about anything with the knowledge that I’ll listen and take their perspective on board. At the end of the day CMH Contracting is nothing without those awesome staff who are on the ground getting the hard work done.”
Significant challenges facing CMH Contracting include the changeability of the forestry market, fluctuating demand for services, and staff shortages. “Forestry is a really up and down business, and it’s greatly affected by what’s going on in other areas of the world. Usually for us, we get a few really good years, and then it’s quiet for a while. During those down times, we work pretty leanly, and use the extra time to develop our business inward until production demand rises again,’ Mr. Hemsworth shares. “Skilled labour is always hard to come by. There’s a real shortage in staff, and not just for our industry at the moment, but for everyone across New Zealand. Part of that is a result of COVID-19 preventing our seasonal and migrant workers from accessing the country to work. We tend to have a pretty good retention of staff, but there’s also an issue with that for many forestry companies; there’s a sort of culture where workers will jump ship, but you know, the grass often looks greener on the other side. We work hard to give our staff a positive environment to work in and foster loyalty values.”
Mr Hemsworth also highlights the importance of public education on issues such as sustainability. “The forestry industry, when done right, is really quite a positive force in the sustainability sphere. However, our New Zealand farmers at the moment are worried about carbon planting. We have seen an uptake of buyers who acquire sheep and beef farms, shut them down and set them up again as plantations, then simply leave them without any form of production. Our meat industry is incredibly important to the economy, and as a small country, we need to use our land intelligently. So what we need to do is plan our land use, and make sure we are replanting properly after harvest. We also need to protect and utilise our native species.”
CMH Contracting would like to thank forest managers Timberlands Ltd, and forest owners Kaingaroa Timberlands Partnership and Port Blakely for their ongoing, mutually beneficial business relationships. The world-renowned Kaingaroa forest, which spans over 189,000 ha of land in New Zealand’s North Island, is supported by forest management company Timberlands Ltd, who work to ensure forest value remains strong, the Kaingaroa environment and surrounding native areas remain protected, and forestry and silviculture staff are able to come to work each day in a safe, positive environment. Port Blakely own and manage forestland across New Zealand, growing, harvesting, and replanting radiata pine and Douglas fir species. They support domestic and international markets through forest-to-mill production, and the provision of harvesting and marketing services to private woodlot owners across the North and South islands. Both Timberlands Ltd and Port Blakely are FSC certified and have stringent environmental policies in place to ensure the natural environments around their forests are protected.
CMH Contracting is a also member of the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA). Led by CEO Prue Younger, FICA has provided a common voice on relevant issues and to foster development and improvement in the New Zealand forestry contracting industry since 2002. CMH Contracting is one of over 200 member companies supported through advocacy, industry information, resources, representation, networking, and education and training. Mr Hemsworth continues, “I am also a certified Safe Tree contractor, which isn’t an industry standard requirement, but I believe it really should be.” In the future, CMH Contracting hopes to use partnerships like their membership with FICA to take part in innovative environmental strategies that improve the health and value of forests, protect natural ecosystems, and further mechanisation and science development within the industry.
AT A GLANCE
What: Harvesting services for commercial forest owners in New Zealand
Where: CMH Contracting is located in Rotorua, New Zealand
Komatsu Forest NZ – www.komatsuforest.com.au
“Leads the Way”
Komatsu Forest is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of forest machines with the Australian HQ located in Sydney and New Zealand Office in Rotorua. It operates through an extensive network of branches and agents covering all major forest regions within Australian & NZ. The product range includes the Komatsu wheel harvesters & forwarders from Sweden, hydraulic excavators from Japan and Timberpro track & wheel machines from the USA.