Working in the timber industry runs in the Lucas family; Denvin Lucas’ father and grandfather were both carpenters, as fate would have it, he would soon follow in their footsteps.

By Dineo Phoshoko

As managing director of Timbercraft, Denvin Lucas has many responsibilities which include seeing to the day-to-day operations of the business, dealing with procurements and liaising with clients. Before getting into the industry, Lucas pursued a brick building business, however he realised that it was not exciting enough for him.

That’s when he decided to do a course in timber frame building in 2008 and attending that course turned out to be the best decision he made as that’s where he met Jim Bunyan and, through him, Lucas’ career in the timber industry took off. Lucas says carpentry has always been something that he wanted to do, and his uncles told him that from an early age he could always found with a hammer and nail in hand.

Although Lucas has been in the industry for close on three decades, is hasn’t always been easy as he encountered many obstacles which include lack of money, lack of exposure and lack of industry knowledge. “God puts people on your path that just walk alongside you, one of them being Jim Bunyan,” he explains. Bunyan used to own Timbercraft and now Lucas and Theo Jurgens are partners in the business.

When he is not busy with work, Lucas enjoys spending his free time doing handyman work at home. When he is not running or gardening, he also enjoys spending quality time with his wife and children. “This industry is one of a kind,” explains Lucas. Even if
that is the case, he still believes that most South Africans have yet to latch onto a building style which uses timber.

“We have aligned ourselves with respectable industry professionals who promote us well and my partners and I offer a personalised sales package to our clients, with great after sales support,” he says. He also mentions that there is a stereotype in the industry about timber being inferior to conventional building.

Although people may still have their reservations about timber as a building material, their perceptions are slowly changing.

“More and more we are finding people open to alternative building methodology – timber,” he says. Even though this is the case, Lucas still finds it particularly challenging to convince people about the benefits of building with timber. “We need to work very hard to market and sell ourselves – all timber builders.” He believes that increased public awareness and local municipalities approving plans faster for all building systems, can help improve the image and perception within the timber industry.

Looking ahead, Lucas would like to collaborate with other like-minded individuals to pioneer an entire multi-storey timber building in South Africa. A building of this kind would be a first for the country.

“We are seeing an open mindset change [to alternative building] of the general public. Project numbers are growing and anyone who can join and contribute positively to the industry would just be a win-win for all,” he adds.

The future looks promising for timber construction and, according to Lucas, through timber society needs to play a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability.

“Timber construction worldwide has been identified as a major role player in the fight against global warming, that’s our contribution,” he concludes.