Blue Mountains Posts
Leading logging and haulage firm celebrates 60 years
Established in 1961 by Bert and Monica Mangan, the business has grown from one trucking unit to 25, along with numerous harvesting units, two mechanic workshops, a 24-hour breakdown service and a parts store.
They employ over 70 staff and contractors, including six apprentices, many of whom are themselves multi-generational employees with the business.
Today, the Mangan Group harvest and haul over 500,000 tonnes of softwood plantation pine each year delivering quality product to Highland Pine, Borg, Visy, Allied Timber Products NSW, and various export markets.
A hallmark of the business has been the seamless management transition over the six decades from Bert and Monica, to son Michael and his wife Suzanne, and to today’s leaders, their grandchildren Mathew, Lisa, Chris, and Michelle.
Recently they welcomed Mathew’s son Riley to the business, who began his mechanical apprenticeship, following the same path his father did 24 years earlier.
Bert began his career in the timber industry on the NSW Central Coast in the town of Wyong. Historically a strong logging community, the industry had begun to slow. In 1961, at the request of his then employer, Bert and Monica and their young son, Michael, travelled to the townof Oberon in the Central Tablelands to complete a contract. Before long, the contract was theirs.
“It came down to the fact that the chap we were working for decided he just didn’t want to run the business anymore and that we could take over,” Monica recalls.
“When Dad began the business in Oberon the timber industry was manually based, so the first 10-15 years of Mangan Logging were tough,” Michael said.
“It was basically people with chainsaws felling, pruning, and stacking the timber onto pallets that were winched onto Dad’s two army-style Blitz trucks and then delivered to the sawmills.”
Michael began joining Bert in the plantation forests by the time he was around seven years of age.
“I used to go out to the bush with my father and the big thing was weekends. He’d go and load the trucks up ready for Monday and things like that. I’d go out with him and give him a hand.” Michael joined his father in the business full time as soon as he could leave school.
As Michael’s responsibilities within the family business increased, he took the initiative to upgrade the company’s equipment. He introduced the first mechanised harvester and forwarder into the business, which took the timber workers off the bush floor and into the safety of a machine cab.
First changing of the guard
In 1984, Bert’s doctors strongly advised him to step down from the day-to-day running of the business. As Suzanne put it, “The doctor told him if he didn't get out, he wouldn't survive because his blood pressure was so high.” Bert and Monica retired back to the NSW Central Coast and Michael and Suzanne stepped up.
But it was challenging times. Government economic reforms during the 1980’s had a profound impact on the economy overall. Mangan Logging wasn’t spared as interest rates to borrow for the necessary upgrades to equipment hit 29 per cent.
“The machines we needed to land contracts were around the $400,000 to $500,000 mark which was huge back then,” Suzanne said. “We were lucky to secure a contract with CSR during that time. The banks finally understood that loans to get equipment meant we could actually do the work.”
Investment in safety and productivity
Mangan Logging & Haulage use a variety of machinery to optimise the productivity and quality of their services, including Harvesters, Feller Bunchers, Forwarders, Skidders, Loaders and B-Double Trucking Combinations. This allows their crews to work on different slopes and terrains, including the steep slopes of the Oberon region that require specialised extraction equipment.
Mangan was the first company in the Oberon region to introduce lower, safer loads by designing and building an extended log trailer for haulage. In 2002 the company introduced the first 19m B-double, in 2013 the first 23m B-Double and in 2018 the first 25meter B-Double. Mangan was also the first in the region to add stability control to its trucking units.
Generation three take the reigns
Mathew and Chris transitioned easily into the business, both completing their apprenticeships as diesel mechanics.
As his father recalls, “Mathew always loved the bush machines.” It seemed inevitable that Matt would be a natural fit for the business. He began his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, displaying an aptitude that would begin to position Mangan Logging ahead of the industry pack.
Chris embraced haulage as a specialist service. “When I first started my diesel mechanic apprenticeship, we had one truck and we had never really planned to get big into trucks,” Chris said.
“But I put my efforts into the haulage workshop, and it grew from there. We started off with a couple of trucks and then we had 10, then we had 12, and now we’ve got 25 and we’re a leader in the haulage industry.”
Lisa entered the administration side of the business, spending 15 years responsible for managing The Mangan Group head office before taking on the responsibility of Store Manager for the past six years. She has the future of their entire workforce front of mind.
“We all want Mangan Logging & Haulage to succeed. Aside from making Dad and all our families proud, we’re here for our employees and their jobs,” Lisa said.
With qualifications including a Bachelor of Business (Accounting/Finance) and a Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting, Michelle has been contributing to the financial side of the business for 14 years.
Michelle said the family credits Bert and Monica, and Michael and Suzanne, for the solid foundations they established for the family.
“They've given us the platforms and the infrastructure for success, and we have skillsets that just compliment the business.
“We've got Matt who's in the harvesting side, Chris is on the trucks, Lisa’s in the store, and me in finance.
“It's like a puzzle that just fits together, that just works.”
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