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Accounting for the trees

With over 80% of its client base involved in forestry, Blackburne Group are well placed to provide financial advice specific to the needs of operators.

Blackburne Group is a chartered accountancy practice based in Taupo specialising in providing New Zealand’s diverse forestry industry with comprehensive financial services right across the supply chain.

So ingrained in the industry is the Blackburne Group, more than 80% of the company’s clients are involved in the forestry industry, whether through harvesting, silviculture, roading or transport, says Director Sonya Elmiger.

“Because we've got such a large database of forestry contractors, we've effectively got an in-house benchmarking resource to monitor how our clients are tracking with industry averages and what we'd expect their KPIs to be,” Sonya says.

Creating partnerships

Since its foundation by Mark Blackburne in 1985, Blackburne Group has always believed that creating partnerships with clients is the best way to understand client goals and what’s important to them.

Part of that relationship is ensuring that all the bases are covered, including finance, insurance, a network of trustworthy suppliers, and being across ACC commitments and the latest employment regulations.

“It's about ensuring our clients have what they need to support efficient and effective operations so they can focus on doing what they do well,” says Sonya.

When it comes to looking after their clients, Blackburne Group ‘walk the walk’ too. The business has been a proud sponsor and supporter of the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) since it was established in 2002, which provides contractors with a voice to improve the industry. Sonya has also been on the board since 2010.

Sonja Blackburne group

“The better we get to know our clients, the better job we can do. It’s about ensuring that they have what they need to support efficient and effective operations so they can focus on doing what they do well.”

 Sonya Elmiger, Blackburne Group

Likeminded goals

Accountants and insurance brokers often have the same goals in mind for their clients. It proved a natural fit for Blackburne Group to build a close working relationship with Crombie Lockwood Taupo Branch Manager, Andy Jensen, and Regional Development Manager, Matt Jensen.

“We like to work closely with those we know we can trustto refer our clients to,” Sonya continues.

“The Blackburne team know they can send clients to Andy, Matt and Crombie Lockwood Taupo because not only do they thoroughly understand the inner workings of the multi-faceted forestry industry, but they also have the same personalised approach to helping businesses in the industry – they’re knowledgeable problem solvers.”

Risks in forestry

But obtaining insurance cover for the forestry industry comes with its challenges. Andy says few insurers accept forestry risks, and those that do are often at capacity.

“This is due to the industry being over-represented in workplace accidents, although that is improving. You also have to factor in the very expensive equipment being used in risky locations,” Andy explains of machinery worth anywhere between $500,000 and $2 million.

Additionally, not all forestry operators run the same types of operation. Andy’s team is seeing a shift from the ‘many people and chainsaws’ type of operation to fewer people in the field relying upon more technologically advanced, specialised machinery.

Andy and his team go above and beyond to gain a thorough working knowledge of clients’ operations. This allows them to recommend covers that meets each business’ unique circumstances, ranging from financial protection, wet and dry hire, recovery costs, hydraulic lifting equipment and various liability covers. 

With a relationship that spans 20 years, the two companies work closely together to for the mutual benefit of their clients, which is critical to present the most favourable submission to the insurance market. 

Published November 2022