If you ask longtime Merritt logger Roy Brown, adaptation in his industry is essential.

Brown has spent the past 50 years in Merritt logging for Tolko Industries with his company ML Brown Lumber Ltd.

In that time, the 89-year-old has seen his industry change completely.

“The logging industry’s altogether different than it was 30 years ago,” Brown said.

“You just blend in with the changes as they come.”

About 10 years before logging for Tolko, Brown was logging in the Merritt area with just a single piece of machinery.

“When I got my CAT [bulldozer], I started logging for a fellow who had a portable sawmill, and he liked the way I did things, so he sold me the portable sawmill. And away we went for eight years,” Brown said.

He said the portable sawmill soon became out of style.

“The mills got bigger and took over. A lot of the big mills now, they were just small mills,” he said.

It was at that point Brown had to adapt to changes in the industry, and he soon started his own company and began logging for Tolko.

“It’s always been about adapting,” he said.

Born in California, Brown was raised in Canada. At age nine, his family moved to Homestead, Alta. He spent almost four years in the Canadian Navy as a stoker first class during peak the wartime years of 1942 to 1945 before he was discharged.

He even lied about his age to get into the navy, saying he was 18 even though he was two months shy of his seventeenth birthday.

Brown first started logging with his dad out at Adams Lake just after the Second World War.

This was during a time when the job was done by hand, using horses to haul the logs out of the brush, as opposed to the machinery that dominates the industry now.

“Everything was done by hand – everything. No power saws,” Brown said, recalling a time when two men would hold each end of a manual saw, moving back and forth to chop down trees.

“Now it’s done with a great, big machine.”

Although the industry is now fully mechanized, Brown said change didn’t just happen overnight.

“It don’t just change all of a sudden,” he said of the transition from the old horse logging days to today’s machine-driven industry.

“One blended into the other, just like anything else. New trucks, new cars; they’re all different, but you don’t know what you’re going to get until you get it.”

He said adapting to changes in the industry for him has been automatic.

When it comes to the logging business, it’s a family affair for Brown. He has worked side-by side with his son Donald for decades. Brown had three sons of which Donald is the only surviving one. He works as the supervisor of the company.

Brown even has four grandsons who work for the company.

He said there are pros and cons to having a family business. The pro?

“You’re glad you got a family that can stay with you all these years,” he said. “The bad part is … you couldn’t fire one if you wanted to,” Brown joked.

“Not that I want to.”

Brown said his wife Anne has played a large part in the business over the years.

When asked why he hasn’t retired yet, Brown said retirement has nothing to offer him.

“I don’t see nothing to enjoy in retirement,” he said.

“I’m not a golfer. Never had time to learn,” he said.

“I’m lucky I can be alive and doing what I’m doing.”