Patel Timber Corner, a successful family sawmill group flies with the second branch in Polokwane opening its doors in 2020.
Speaking to Patel Timber Corner’s Saeed Patel, he’s first to admit that sawmilling is tough. “There’s a lot you need to know to run a successful sawmilling business. It takes time and effort, so don’t be impatient.”
Saeed has steely resolve in his eyes and the scars to prove it as he looks at the steady business that now enters Patel Timber Corner’s first sawmill near Ga-Moswedi, a suburb of Mankweng, 40 kilometres east of Polokwane.
Patel Timber Corner’s early beginnings lie in groceries and hardware, the traditional stomping ground of many of the Indian-owned businesses in or near Polokwane in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.
With a fierce entrepreneurial spirit and a flair for trading in goods and services in his DNA, Saeed stepped out of tradition with the decision to start a sawmilling business.
But this was no mistake – Saeed’s keen business sense told him that he could charge less and get more customers if he milled his own sawn timber.
Most of the sawn timber sold in Mankweng and Polokwane come from sawmills 70 kilometres away. By milling timber at his sawmill in Mankweng, the price of his timber would be lower than the timber from far away.
His first try to start his sawmill in 2016 failed. But fortune favours the brave. In 2019 Saeed tried again.
He sold his other businesses and partnered with his brother Yusuf and cousin Rizwan Patel to launch the sawmill. With cash in hand, they could add more Wood-Mizer’s to the LT15 that Saeed bought in 2016.
With Patel Timber Corner finally flying, its expansion was fast.
From 2019, the mill added four more Wood-Mizer LT15START’s to their sawmill line-up to keep up with demand. Speaking to Saeed Patel now, he says it’s good to see that his instincts were correct to start the sawmill.
“Hardware stores, construction companies, self-builders and walk-in customers now have high-quality and affordably priced sawn timber conveniently close to them.
“Plans are also in place to dry our timber. The cutting accuracy we’re getting from our Wood-Mizer’s matched to dried flat and square timber will allow us to compete directly with larger mills, and then the game is on!
“We’re also working on recovering more and wasting less with a finger-joint line to join material that we wasted. A four-head planer moulder is also in place to plane finger-jointed material into the popular timber sizes that we sell: 6 – 6,6 m lengths in 38 x 38, 38 x 70-76, 38 x 114 mm.”
The company’s second branch in Polokwane opened its doors to the public in 2020.
“By locating the site in Polokwane itself, we are taking sawn timber production even closer to the customer,” Saeed continues.
“We’re closer for more convenience and we can produce sawn timber cheaper but still make a profit with customers now buying sawn timber from us instead of larger sawmills.
“Wood-Mizer’s compact and affordable small-mill range also makes it possible for us to locate our sawmill in smaller premises. This has slashed our overheads when compared with our large industrial competitors. These saving we pass onto our customers with very competitive pricing,” Saeed explains.
An additional six Wood-Mizer LT15START’s are now cutting at the Polokwane branch, bringing the total to eleven Wood-Mizer’s working at the Patel Timber group.
The LT15START is a powerful, ultra-compact and affordable entry-level mill designed for sawmillers that dream of starting and running a successful sawmill.
It is available in electric and petrol power options and can cut logs up to 5.4 m long and 70 cm wide with additional bed sections extending the cutting length.
“We chose the LT15START because the operators like the sawmill,” Saeed says.
“The electric head makes it easy to adjust the head up or down to cut different sizes fast. With the 11-kW main motor, we can cut logs without any problems. It’s simple to use and operators need little training to cut with it.
“Wood-Mizer’s technical support is really good, and we now get all our spares and blades from Wood-Mizer’s new branch in Polokwane,” Saeed says.
With Wood-Mizer’s blade maintenance equipment sawmillers can also maintain their blades.
Patel Timber Corner use BMS200 blades sharpeners and BMT150 blade setters at their branches to resharpen their blades to cut costs and reduce their dependence on outside suppliers.
The Patel Timber Corner Group’s success is an amazing story of three young entrepreneurs that saw a gap, took it, and with the results showing that their business instincts were spot-on.
They represent a new breed of sawmiller that moves fast, eager to exploit the weaknesses of their competitors.
Give them another five years.
The LT15START is part of Wood-Mizer’s LT15 range & provides for several models and features to fit the needs of entry level to professional sawmilling operations. Offering affordability, practicality and featured-packed performance – The LT15 is the backbone of sawmilling in Africa.
Start small and build as you grow – Wood-Mizer makes affordable, easy-to use sawmilling technology available to entrepreneurs to start small and build a profitable sawmill over time that imrpoves lives, creates jobs, and help to develop local manufacturing – A better future for all.
Start working with Wood-Mizer – with more jobs as small sawmills grow, sawn timber sparking manufacturing, trade in timber taking off, economies, people and countries grow – for Timber, for People.
Sawmills unlock the value of timber. A resource with value is protected. Wood-Mizer sawmilling technology adds value to timber. With high-value sawn timber replacing logs sold at a discount, Africa’s timber riches will be protected and regrown to build economies, improve lives, A Better, Greener Future.
Source: Wood-Mizer Africa