We interviewed Blair Davis, Director of RAD Logging and graduate of The Icehouse's Owner Operator Programme:
Did you have a ‘nail in the coffin’ moment? What was happening in your business that made you decide to take on the Owner Operator Programme (OOP)?
My brother in law and I established RAD Logging in late 2011. We brought with us extensive knowledge on the operational side of logging, however on the business side you could say was a bit of a mystery. To counteract our lack of knowledge in regards to this aspect we listened carefully to those who had the ‘business know how’ and surrounded ourselves with the right people, professionals and skilled workers. I was working in the operational side of the business, while at the same time responsible for all the business aspects. It really was an impossible ask as there were just not enough hours in the day to be able to effectively give 100% to both.
Changes needed to be made and I just didn't know where to begin. I was ready to grow professionally, and also needed to, as there was a shift occurring in regards to the professionalism of the Forestry Industry. When I heard about the Icehouse’s Owner Operator Programme, not to sound cliché, but the timing just could not have been better. The support given to me has been invaluable, especially when an unexpected change meant I would become the sole owner operator of RAD Logging in mid 2015.
What have been some of the key results you've experienced at the hands of the programme?
The biggest result for RAD Logging since beginning the programme is expansion. We have tripled in size, and have moved from operating one logging crew to three.
How impactful has the programme been at taking your business to the frontline of the logging industry?
I believe there are two fundamental parts of every business: the operational side and the business side. For both you need the knowledge, the know-how and the can do. As mentioned previously, prior to starting the Owner Operator Programme, I had the knowledge to effectively run the operational side of the company, but now I can confidently say that I am also doing well with the business side. Yes, some aspects are still a work in progress, but I have gained a lot of knowledge and a deeper understanding of effective management practices: the company is definitely a lot more structured.
The one on one mentoring sessions have been invaluable, and how can they not? They are targeted specifically to me. At the beginning of the programme I created a business goal of becoming one of the biggest logging contractors on the East Coast and I truly believe at this point of time we are definitely heading in the right direction to achieve that.
How do you think you’ve developed personally from the Owner Operator Programme?
I think I have come a long way since I started the programme becoming more professional.
Thinking about professional growth, learning the importance of working on my business and not in it has been a key factor. It can be very eye opening taking a step back to see where your operational weaknesses are. Speaking about management I have developed in the area of delegation, I have come to realise that delegation frees myself up so that I can better spend my time elsewhere, delegation is an important strategy as it not only helps the person doing the delegating, but it also aids in the professional growth of the person being delegated to.
I have also developed in regards to my communication skills. This is something that I am continuing to work on and refine. Effective communication is particularly important when I am feeling frustrated and the need to deal with a stressful situation arises. Jumping up and down and yelling just doesn’t get you the results that you are after…funny that!
What would be your advice to other business owners thinking of going on the programme?
My advice to any business owner thinking about starting the Owner Operator Programme would be, ‘what do you have to lose!?’ If you are reading this it means that something has occurred within yourself or your business that has made you seek out this information. If you want to remain stagnant as a company with no real movement or growth then keep doing what you’re doing.
But if you have a goal for the future direction of your company and are ready for change, but just need the know how, then this programme is for you. I can honestly say that the support and the mentoring that you will receive from this program will enable you to achieve what you set out too, you just have to go for it!