Roger Lejeune, a spo­kes­per­son for the cut-to-length met­hod

Cor­rect quan­ti­ties and costs under cont­rol 

Roger Lejeune from Bel­gium knows that the calcu­la­tor plays an impor­tant role in har­ves­ting. Howe­ver, he does not need one because he can do the maths in his head, just like his fat­her could. Lejeune ending up wor­king in the forest industry is anot­her part of his father’s legacy. 

“Ever since I lear­ned how to walk, I went to the woods with my fat­her. He star­ted wor­king as a buyer at a local saw­mill, from where he moved on to a paper mill,” Lejeune says.  

“We spoke Ger­man at home, and my fat­her spoke fluent French, but wri­ting the paper mill’s reports in French was a bit tric­kier. So, I spent my wee­kends as a uni­ver­sity stu­dent chec­king the gram­mar in my father’s French reports. This hel­ped me learn much about the industry. I knew eve­ryt­hing he did.” 

Lejeune stu­died busi­ness mana­ge­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Liège. He recei­ved a six-month scho­lars­hip from the Mini­stry of Foreign Affairs to study in the Uni­ted Sta­tes and con­duct a mar­ket sur­vey for the Bel­gian fur­ni­ture industry. This trip taught him many use­ful things for his future.   

After the study period in the US and mili­tary ser­vice, his father’s emplo­yer, the paper mill, also wan­ted to hire the youn­ger Lejeune at its wood procu­re­ment depart­ment. The job was to purc­hase pulpwood and build supply chains for it from Ger­many to Bel­gium.  

“When I was young, I had one hobby: dri­ving lor­ries. I drove inter­na­tio­nal cargo for almost a year before my mili­tary ser­vice and the period in the US. This expe­rience pro­ved very use­ful later when set­ting up the paper mill’s logis­tics.”  

Lejeune was in charge of wood procu­re­ment and logis­tics at the mill, and he also had to focus on road, port and rail trans­port. During the peak year of 1981, he deli­ve­red 300,000 m3 of pulpwood to the mill impor­ted from Ger­many.  

In 1986, Lejeune thought that he should use his ideas and skills for his own bene­fit. He left the paper mill to start his own com­pany: CCBOIS SA. 

He had exten­sive expe­rience in the forest industry in Europe: wood procu­re­ment, har­ves­ting, trans­port, sales and use. Anot­her sig­ni­ficant fac­tor was his know­ledge of dif­fe­rences in wood trade and mea­su­re­ment in dif­fe­rent count­ries.  

“Trees were mea­su­red dif­fe­rently in each country. If you don’t know this, it may cost you as you don’t know what the coun­ter­party is tal­king about.”  

A storm brought mac­hi­nes into the woods  

At the end of 1989, a storm rava­ged forests in the ope­ra­ting area of Lejeune’s com­pany. His address book soon became use­ful, and he rec­rui­ted Fin­nish and Swe­dish com­pa­nies to har­vest windth­rows. Fin­nish and Swe­dish ope­ra­tors and har­ves­ters made a big impres­sion. 

When they left, Lejeune bought his first har­ves­ter from a Swe­dish com­pany. Now he had a mac­hine but no ope­ra­tor. Roger Lejeune points out that, while you can buy mac­hi­nes, you also need to get them moving. Posi­tive results can­not be made wit­hout skil­led ope­ra­tors.   

Ope­ra­tors played their part in 1994 when Lejeune bought his first PONSSE. The deal also inclu­ded ope­ra­tors. 

“This bene­fi­ted both of us. Ponsse recei­ved feed­back on the per­for­mance of its mac­hi­nes and tech­no­lo­gies in Cent­ral Euro­pean con­di­tions for its R&D.”  

Lejeune was able to moder­nise his har­ves­ting ope­ra­tions, making it fol­low Scan­di­na­vian stan­dards one step at a time.  

The Einari Award win­ner Roger Lejeune.

A pio­neer leads the way 

The efficiency of the cut-to-length met­hod and mec­ha­ni­sed har­ves­ting impres­sed Lejeune. Still, he also had to con­vince local forest com­pa­nies. Doub­ters voiced nega­tive com­ments: mac­hi­nes were belie­ved to be too large, stumps would be too tall, and qua­lity would be poor.  

To prove the doub­ters wrong, Lejeune bought a piece of wood­land with his part­ner to host a demon­stra­tion. They showed that mac­hi­nes do not damage forests when a pro­fes­sio­nal ope­ra­tor is at the cont­rols.  

This is Lejeune’s way of doing things. If an idea feels good, he will put it to the test in his own forests, in his own com­pany and at his own expense. You learn by doing, and he says that the best way to learn is by inves­ting your own money.  

With this principle, he star­ted har­ves­ting ope­ra­tions in Rus­sia in 1996. 

When tra­vel­ling to Chile in 2007, he saw the need for mec­ha­ni­sed har­ves­ting and all the oppor­tu­ni­ties it had to offer. In 2009, he sent a forwar­der and two har­ves­ters to Chile to test the waters. Des­pite many efforts, the trial came to an end because cus­to­mers were not ready to pay the asking price for the ser­vices pro­vi­ded.  

“I was ten years early,” he says. 

Get­ting quan­ti­ties just right 

Relia­bi­lity is a word Lejeune men­tions frequently. In har­ves­ting and wood trade, cor­rect quan­ti­ties are key. This is why he is a strong sup­por­ter of har­ves­ter mea­su­re­ments.  

“While prices can be nego­tia­ted, quan­ti­ties have to be just right,” he says. 

Eco-friend­li­ness, high-qua­lity work, and accu­rate dimen­sions and quan­ti­ties have always been the strengths of Lejenue’s com­pany. Lejeune focuses on met­rics and data to keep a close eye on costs and quan­ti­ties. Ope­ra­tions have to be cost-efficient.