When you ask Business Owner Lynette Davis how she’s spent more than 35 years running a successful business with her husband Ross, there’s one thing that she keeps coming back to – taking a strategic approach to running the business.
As a couple, Lynette says she and Ross had clearly defined roles in their business and worked to their strengths.
“Ross was in charge of our operations and the face of our company, while I was more behind the scenes, taking care of financial planning and the day to day running of the office,” she says.
“I would never tell Ross how to set up the logging crew – and he knew better than to tell me how to run the office.”
Ross is also dyslexic, which added another component to how the couple worked as a team.
“I would ensure all written communication came through me, and I would relay it all to Ross verbally,” she says.
Lynette says she’s a natural problem solver, which has helped her take a strategic approach to running their business.
“If there is a problem, I am usually determined to find an answer, sometimes by brainstorming with Ross and at other times by just giving myself time to think it through.”
“I always believed there is a remedy for every problem – even if the remedy is to cut your losses and move on, then that’s what you do.”
Lynette’s strategic thinking is evident throughout her business journey, from starting out in the early 1980’s to transitioning out of contracting in recent years.
Before meeting Ross, she worked in various offices.
“I suppose in hindsight I didn’t have a lot of direction, but each job I took was a step up the ladder, and in every job, I always looked at systems and ways of improving things,” she says.
She says it all prepared her for when she ran their own business.
After getting married the couple bought some machinery and built up their logging business, first in the Bay of Plenty and later in the Coromandel.
“I had seen so many different offices and used heaps of different systems, so I knew what I wanted to do when I ran my own office,” she says.
“I was always tweaking my own systems, to capture more information and become more efficient.”
They always followed the work too.
“We always put work first and went where the work was,” she says.
“We just knew we had to get the job done, and we both never wavered away from that. Even in the bad times, and there were a few, I would always be looking at the overall business, and trying to make the best financial decision.”
She says giving yourself time to consider the options is key.
“We’ve always tried to look at every option and worked out which one is the good one.”
“Sometimes people rush in with the first option available, but it doesn’t always end up being the best one. You’ve got to think smarter than just having a knee-jerk reaction to things.”
“We’ve had our share of bad decisions, but they certainly taught us what not to do.”
She adds that having a good accountant has helped them make profitable decisions overall.
“We have always surrounded ourselves with excellent advisors, who I refer to as my ‘top three!’ – great accountant, lawyer and bank/finance advisors,” she says.
“We’ve worked with the same people for over 25 years and believe that the loyalty and trust that develops over the years is immeasurable.”
“Yes, sometimes the costs are high, and sometimes we hear things we don’t like… but the upshot is that they are the professionals in their areas of expertise, and you have to respect their opinions and advice.”
“If anyone asks me for advice about running a business, my first comment is always to get your top three, and if you find your trifecta, stick with them!”
Diversifying into a lower-risk investment with rental property has also helped keep the financial stress at bay.
“Logging is high risk, and I always wanted a low risk investment working alongside our business,” she says.
“Our properties were always protected under our Trust, and with the ups and downs of logging, it was nice to keep them distanced from our logging business.”
A few years ago, the couple decided it was time to exit contracting.
“Running our logging business was often busy and stressful,” Lynette says.
“I started to think about exiting, and knew we had to plan for this as well. I always wanted to have the control to exit on our terms and on our timeline.”
So just like they’d always done, the couple strategised their exit.
They consulted their accountant and weighed up their options, making a comprehensive plan to exit logging while expanding their equipment leasing business.
“We had been developing partners in the contracting business so they could potentially buy us out of a share of it. It all came together at the right time,” she says.
“Three years on, RF Davis Logging Ltd stopped operating, and Log Lease carried on. I now have the time to focus on property and juggle all the grandchildren!”