Forest Industry Contractors Association
Leaders in the New Zealand Forest Industry
Business View Oceania interviews Prue Younger, CEO of the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA), for our focus on Facilities Management across New Zealand
The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) seeks to provide a common voice for all contractors affiliated with New Zealand’s forestry industry. Since its founding in 2002, the association has worked tirelessly of behalf of its members to raise relevant issues, maintain positive communication, build relationships with the wider community, and lead the forestry industry as a whole towards a more developed, environmentally and socially conscious future.
CEO of the Forest Industry Contractors Association, Prue Younger is passionate about her role in the management and growth of the association as well as the industry that it influences. “I am truly committed to the role as the CEO of FICA. FICA will represent and support all contractors to ensure they are an integral and highly respected organisation in the industry with a focus to ensure sustainability. We will have numerous events all over New Zealand, aiming to lift the information and skill base of our members and I urge you to get involved, they will be a great opportunity for networking amongst members, sponsors and industry stakeholders.”
Working alongside the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA), New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA)and the Wood Processing and Manufacturers Association (WPMA) as part of a peak body for all areas of New Zealand’s forest industry, the Forest Industry Contractors Association is an organisation dedicated to improving conditions for contractors large and small. With core values listed as leadership, collaboration, professionalism, fairness, honesty and integrity, and a ‘people first’ attitude, FICA is more than qualified to serve its members across the country.
The Forest Industry Contractors Association provides a variety of services for its members across three full membership tiers, which are based on members’ annual turnover. Benefits of membership vary across tiers, and include recognition via email signatures and communications registrations, invitations to FICA conferences as well as other industry-related events and activities, magazine subscriptions to NZ Loggers and Deals on Wheels, trade cards, workshops and sponsor discounts. Currently FICA supports 200 company members, which in turn equals approximately 3000 individuals in the industry. Service providers are also encouraged to join as Associate members, to have their say, enjoy associate benefits and remain up to date with industry happenings.
The association is backed by three tiers of sponsors who serve as vital partners to the organisation. FICA is proud to work with all of their sponsors and would like to thank them for their ongoing dedication and assistance.
Upcoming events with the Forest Industry Contractors Association include the Safetree Conference on October 28th 2021, held in partnership with the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC). The Safetree Conference is a great opportunity for contractors to develop crucial leadership and communication skills to assist in creating and maintaining healthy business relationships throughout their entire supply chain. Also coming up this year is the FICA AGM Conference which stretches across October 29th and 30th 2021. This annual FICA event provides members, contractors, sponsors, and service providers with the chance learn about new happenings in the industry, and build lasting business relationships in a thoroughly enjoyable space. Both events are to be held in Queenstown, New Zealand. Members and Affiliates of the Forest Industry Contractors Association are definitely encouraged to attend.
Given that the forest industry is so prominent in New Zealand, influencing change is a huge responsibility, Younger shares. “Change comes about because of the strength of the market and the strength of contracts with forest owners. In order to bring about positive change, we must grow the confidence of the contractors that we represent to formally negotiate with forest owners over their contracts. When changes are made to regulations, especially surrounding safety, technology, and mechanization, quite often the contractor has to bear the financial brunt. We have to change the industry so that it’s a shared responsibility across the whole chain of custody.” Younger explains that costs surrounding workforce education and training also fall heavily on contractors, which adds to financial strain and industry concerns about staff turnover and productivity.
One of the ways the Forest Industry Contractors Association has combatted these issues is by organising financial assistance from the New Zealand government, through the Ministry of Social Development, in the form of subsidies distributed to forest industry contractors who meet best practice requirements.
Recent challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have also been at the forefront of strategic planning with the Forest Industry Contractors Association. With many contractors being unable to rely as heavily on migrant workers from surrounding areas such as the Cook Islands, FICA has encouraged their members to look to their own backyard and hire New Zealand workers. Younger shares concerns regarding low interest in locals, but states that supporting local communities with employment in the forest industry remains a priority.
Sustainability is another huge priority at the Forest Industry Contractors Association. FICA recognises the importance of encouraging an environmentally conscious approach to management and operations within the industry and has implemented various strategies to do so. Just some of these strategies include keeping members updated on regulatory changes, providing information and training surrounding carbon footprint reduction, and regularly promoting government campaigns for sustainable best practices.
Looking to the future, Younger explains that the association continues to extend its visibility and influence across the country. “We are on a mission to become more visible whilst continually communicating with our sector. We already do a lot more travel, so we are very mobile, and are often out within the regions where the contractors are located.” Younger also notes that increased mechanisation, continued investment in sustainable innovation, and a growing focus on socially and environmentally conscious best practices all need to be seen within the forest industry in the next five years to continue moving forward.
Younger summarizes, “The most important thing for us is to be the communication line from government and other forestry organisations to our membership, and to offer them a toolbox of support. The more contractors we can do that for, the better.” The Forest Industry Contractors Association will continue to be a resounding voice for its members in New Zealand, supporting contractors across the country to continue positive development within the forest industry.
AT A GLANCE
Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA)
What: Association working to provide a voice for all contractors in New Zealand’s forest industry.
Where: The Forest Industry Contractors Association is a highly mobile organisation loosely based in Napier New Zealand.