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News & Industry

16Jan

Sustainability remains priority for local hardwood flooring importer.

Local hardwood importer and flooring and decking specialist Bedson Timbers reports that it is further strengthening its position and increasing its footprint as a top supplier of sustainable hardwood flooring products.

Oscar Bupo the head of the Bupo Business Group, which includes Bedson Timbers, says the company is focused on offering a truly sustainable hardwood flooring product while still organically growing its business.

“We are committed to offering an environment friendly hardwood flooring product. This starts with the use of a sustainable natural resource that is well managed and of excellent quality. Securing and developing this renewable natural resource also places us in the position to improve our product quality and grow our business.”

In line with this vision, the company has aligned itself with Weyerhaeuser, one of the most reputable companies in the global forest product trade. Bedson Timbers entered into the partnership with Weyerhaeuser over a year ago. The agreement makes Bedson Timbers the sole local supplier of Weyerhaeuser Lyptus Eucalyptus hardwood flooring and Weyerhaeuser Eucalyptus and Pine Lumin Plywood.

The company initially only imported the plywood product, but its vision to offer more sustainable hardwood products has motivated it to supply the Lyptus hardwood flooring product as well. In an interview last year Bedson Timbers sales and marketing head Colin Sparkes explained that the company also offers American hardwood products as the industries in North and South America are well-regulated and where needed it can still source African hardwoods from reputable operations, but the company’s focus has definitely shifted to sustainable Eucalyptus products.

Eucalyptus as sustainable resource

Bupo, who is qualified as a forest engineer, personally visits the plantations and growers that Bedson Timbers buys from and engages with these companies to ensure that the appropriate forestry procedures are followed.

In addition to having access to Weyerhaeuser’s well-managed plantations in Brazil and Uruguay, Bedson Timbers has also acquired 2 000 ha of its own forests on prime land in Uruguay for the growing of Eucalyptus species.

The plantation, which comprises five Eucalyptus species, indigenous species and three Pine species will reach its rotation age from 2017. Not only does this plantation secure future demand for the South African and international markets, but it also ensures that highest quality end product can be achieved.

“We planted species that produce denser timber which is ideally suited for the production of hardwood floors. Some of the hybrids we chose included Eucalyptus Grandis x Camaldulensis.”

The investment forms part of a long-term sustainable project which follows strict Forest Stewardship Council procedures and guidelines.

Focusing on local presence first

Bedson Timbers has been operating in the local market for many years and has become a well-known brand. Bupo notes that successful product branding efforts have made the company a household name.

“We are well represented locally with our headquarters in Pretoria, regional offices and warehousing facilities in Cape Town and Durban. The foundation of our business in South Africa is strong and we have managed to bolster our brand through clear and effective packaging.”

Bedson Timbers’ hardwood flooring is shipped in distinctively branded boxes; this is not something that is usually done in the local hardwood flooring industry.

Continuous growth with increases in sales indicate that the demand for hardwood flooring products remain healthy and that the company’s marketing efforts are paying off.

Meanwhile, it is not only the company’s strong brand presence that is creating more interest in the flooring, but also the quality and convenience of the products that are pre-finished at the factory.

Building an export business

Further, Bupo has recently attended a business course in emerging markets at the renowned Harvard University and is channelling his new knowledge to expand Bedson Timbers.

“Even though our order books remain full, the depreciation of the rand over the last several years is putting pressure on product costs. This is an uncontrollable situation which is negatively impacting on many importing businesses and their clients. However, despite immense economic challenges we also realise that there are many opportunities to grow our business when combined with exports.”

Bupo explains that the company plans to enter the emerging markets by driving exports of its Lyptus hardwood products. “Our strategy is to first make our mark in emerging markets before taking on developed ones. We believe this is not only a sensible business move but also a way of offering sustainable products in growing markets where homeowners with increasing disposable income are driving the demand for hardwood flooring.”

Bupo’s daughter, Antonieta Bupo, will be helping the company to develop its exports division. Antonieta is proficient in several European languages.

The last word

Bedson Timbers plays an important role in conserving one of the most precious resources on earth. The company not only has a responsibility towards the environment but also towards customers and consumers.

“We are committed to offering a sustainable hardwood product that is of the highest quality. To achieve this, we align ourselves with growers who have the same vision, we invest in our own renewable resources and we ensure that the product coming out of our facilities is precision machined, perfectly sanded and custom finished,”

The company has been preparing for this development for some time and will use its commercial offices in Mozambique, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco as a springboard into these markets. Bedson Timbers has already had many successes exporting its products and has made significant inroads in the Middle-East and Egypt where large shipments of African hardwood flooring have been delivered last year.