Dale Digs In

When you meet Loggabull’s Dale Rutgers, you quickly appreciate her down to earth nature and ‘get on with it’ attitude.

It’s easy to see why she and husband Brian have been successfully running their logging business Loggabull in the Taupo / Tokoroa area for the past eight years.

The couple has been together for the past 22 years, meeting at a party as teenagers in 2002. Dale was 17, while Brian was 19 and working for his uncle Ron Thomassen at Thomassen Logging at the time. 

“When I met Brian, I was a cadet at the Taupo District Council, working in the property and land department,” says Dale.

“It was like an apprenticeship where you do all sorts of jobs like titles, connecting services to properties, GIS mapping and aerial photography and the Council puts you through Polytech courses to upskill while you work.”

“I worked my way up in the Council and moved into the admin team, working on Resource Management and liquor licencing requests and other council services.”

At the same time, Brian continued to work with his uncle Ron. He and Dale built up some equity and went into partnership with Ron in 2007, setting up a ground base crew (BR Logging).

Dale continued with her job in the Council, developing her admin skills, before coming over to work in the Thomassen Logging office in 2015.

“I worked with Ron’s wife Nicola in their office for a couple of years and that was really invaluable in terms of learning about forestry and building up my knowledge of things like payroll and accounts payable. I’d have had no idea otherwise,” she laughs.

The contrast with Council was immediately obvious. 

“Coming from Council it was quite a change, particularly dealing with bush people instead of corporate people. I really enjoyed the change and loved how relaxed people were generally.” 

“Also, working in corporate you see so many things that could be fixed but you can’t change them. When you work for yourself, you can usually do something about it.”

Eight years ago in 2016, Brian and Dale were ready to take the next leap in their business. Ron agreed to buy them out of their partnership and the couple set up Loggabull with 100% ownership of a ground base crew.

Daughter Chloe came along in 2018, making things even more busy but way more wonderful too.

“In the early days, Brian was running a Harvester, falling and processing with the same machine,” says Dale.

“We gradually grew from there and now have two crews (one ground base and one hauler), employing 21 staff.”  

“There have definitely been ups and downs, but we’ve been pretty lucky with ManuLife.  We really feel for some of the other contractors in other regions who have had it tougher,” says Dale.

Dale has attended a couple of Women in Forestry events recently and has enjoyed having the opportunity to see what others are doing.

“It is good to have a place to go and see how other people are doing things. So often you’re just on your own and you don’t really know if what you’re doing is the right way or the wrong way. Getting to know some of the other ladies and share ideas has been great,” says Dale.

“You realise you often have the same challenges as each other when you get talking.”

Dale says she and Brian have a good working relationship and they rely on each other a lot.

“He has the expertise on so many things and I pick his brain if I don’t understand something. He does it to me too – it goes both ways. I guess we keep tabs on each other,” she says.

“It helps that we have different offices too,” she laughs. 

“Plus, one rule we have at home is if he wants me to do something, he has to txt me rather than just tell me and I’ll deal with it the next morning. It’s like the shopping list, you have to write it down!”

When asked what she’d tell others she says it’s all about “making hay while the sun shines”.

“Don’t overcommit and you’ll do alright.”


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