Why LEAN? Lessons from a NZ logging contractor

24 January 2019

If you have a business that is experiencing the following ‘symptoms’ read on……

– Are your costs rising?
– Are mistakes on the increase?
– Are your efficiency levels unsatisfactory?
– Are your profits evaporating?
– Could the morale and culture of your people be better?

The good news is that it’s all reversible, but the first step is to recognize that change is hard, you need to have the patience and provide the resources to support change. “Success comes from knowing what to do and when to do it!”

People often ask – “What is LEAN?” and it is difficult to define Lean in just a few sentences as Lean encompasses so much. Lean is about creating value, it is about customer service, it is about revolution and evolution of your systems and processes, it is about development and encouragement of people to better understand how they add value, it is about analyzing everything you do and why you do it, it is about leadership, it is about having a plan, it is a never ending journey towards perfection leading to sustainable success.

We find ourselves saying “If you want your company to thrive not just struggle to survive in this global economy then Lean techniques need to be at the core of how your business operates”. In short – Lean is about ‘Doing more with Less, taking out the Waste and adding Value to what your customer actually wants’

It’s no secret that one of the most important aspects of Lean is the involvement of everyone in the business from the CEO down to the newest crew member. Everyone has a voice and everyone is expected to make a contribution within Lean, it is often this involvement of the workforce where companies fall down, while they may say that they value and involve their employees, many fail to actually demonstrate it. Recognizing and celebrating success is an important factor when trying to encourage improvement.

In years gone by businesses (Toyota being one of many) have invested significantly over many decades to develop improvement systems for business, but in today’s fast moving global market, businesses cannot afford to spend that long improving so they need a proven, robust and effective system to improve. That system is called LEAN.
In addition to a raft of new technology, operating practices and clever tools being used in wood harvesting operations, the concept of lean and how it has successfully turned around a local harvesting contractor’s business is being built into the HarvestTECH 2019 event in Rotorua on 26-27 June 2019.

Stubbs Contracting Ltd, a Gisborne based Logging Operation with four crews decided to adopt Lean philosophy’s and haven’t looked back. Coached by The Lean Hub they find themselves experiencing improvements in productivity while being one of the leaders in the Industry for safety. Responsibilities are being shifted from Senior Management to Supervisors and Front-Line staff which is enabling Management to focus on driving the business forward while the Supervisors focus on ‘getting the job done’.

Staff accountability is improving due to staff being empowered to make positive changes without fear of being pulled into the boss’s office for a ‘please explain’. Leaders and front-line staff not only know now what successful performance looks like but know how to influence and improve performance. Not only are managers using data but they are allowing staff to see the data in very simple formats so that they can help improve the operation. Companies are also realising the undisputable benefits of having the entire operation ‘singing off one song sheet’.

In summary: LEAN shouldn’t be looked upon as a short-term diet for business but more as a long-term sustainable health programme. Trevor Hall, Director of the Lean Hub and Robert Stubbs, MD of Stubbs Contracting will be outlining the concept and just how it has made such a positive impact to a local harvesting business as part of the HarvestTECH 2019 event. Full details on the programme and registrations can be found on the event website,