Keeping it simple through the downturn
Waikato-based woodlot contractors Aaron and Kate Pevreal are no strangers to a downturn. In logging for 25 years and in business for 10, the husband-and-wife team say this is the third downturn they’ve been through.
“Our first two were very hard, we were young and breaking out, had old equipment, and were trying to establish ourselves,” says Aaron.
They got through by covering the basics and working for much less personally.
“We wrestled through by working for next to nothing, to keep the guys paid and just meet those non-negotiables with fuel and finance payments. Although we were behind on bills, we kept our employment going and were able to pick back up when the price improved.”
The couple says communication with suppliers, like mechanics, was key to keeping afloat.
“We had good communication with them, and we were able to slow down for a couple of months, then sort them out when we were back up and running in full.”
Wife Kate runs the ANK Pine Harvesters office. She says she had to learn not to just pay everybody in full when the finances were tight.
“At the start I was very much ‘you pay everybody’, but our accountant helped to educate me around prioritising payments and paying in instalments during those tighter periods,” says Kate.
Aaron says seeking advice and talking to people who are experienced made a massive difference to how they run their business, helping to grow their confidence as business owners.
“We’re in forestry because we’re good loggers, not because we’re good businesspeople,” says Aaron.
“Seeking the right support and advice around us has helped us to be better businesspeople. We can’t just think because we’re good loggers that we’re going to be good businesspeople.”
In the last downturn, the couple says they got themselves into a bit of trouble by trying to expand and being people ‘they weren’t really’. They relocated the family to Northland from the Waikato to take on a big contract.
“Things weren’t going well from the start. We talked about it as a couple and made some heavy decisions, then we sought the right advice from our accountant, and he helped get us out of it,” says Aaron.
“Now in this current downturn we’re much more relaxed than we’ve ever been.”
They say keeping it simple is key.
“Be what you are and not what your mate down the road is going to be. Do what you do well and keep it simple,” says Aaron.
When asked what it’s like working as a husband and wife team, the couple laughs.
“It happens,” laughs Kate.
“We’re always working together in the office, but Kate has her role and I have mine. Usually if we disagree it’s when we haven’t got sums working out,” says Aaron.
“I wouldn’t say we have arguments about it, but she certainly gets me to take a look at it. We can take that relationship hat off for a couple of hours a week to make those strategic decisions and work on the business together.”