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Perspectives

Jacob hughes

Twenty-year old Jacob Hughes epitomises what the forest industry is all about. Having joined forestry contractor Andrew Lette as a 16 year-old, Jacob’s enthusiasm for his job and his industry, is infectious.

Having worked his way up from his initial job as a log ‘de-barker’, Jacob now controls a 25-tonne excavator worth nearly one million dollars. The envy of his former school mates, Jacob reckons he has done very well.

“Most of my mates from school are earning half of my salary. I work for a great boss who creates opportunities and backs me all the way”.

Jacob thinks there is a generational change happening in the industry and he wants to ride the wave of that change.

“Many of the contractors are reaching retirement age, so the opportunities for young blokes are certainly there.”

When asked how he sees his own future unfolding, Jacob does not hesitate:

“I’d like to be running my own contracting business one day. The investment required is hefty, but with the right partner, it can be done.”

He says there are often family histories in the forest contracting game, which can make it easier for young people to enter it and ultimately take-over their father’s business.

“I don’t have that advantage, but the opportunities look good, particularly if the proposed pulp mill goes ahead. If it does proceed, it will mean I’ll certainly stay in the business and the forest industry overall will survive.”

The way forests are managed is important to Jacob and he is concerned that in some areas of the world, ‘things are not being done correctly.’

“Forestry Tasmania, Gunns and others manage forests sustainably. The same can’t be said for some countries where illegal logging is destroying forests ‘right under the Governments’ nose.”

If a strong work ethic and boundless enthusiasm count for anything, Jacob will still be working for his current boss in five years, but he’ll be well-trained, wise in the ways of forestry and on the brink of making his boss a partnership offer ‘he simply can’t refuse.’

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