Seven months ago, Masahe Timber Treaters entered the treatment market as a newcomer with very little experience. Today, the business is a thriving supplier of Tanalith® C supplier pressure treated poles, thanks to the technical support from Lonza Wood Protection South Africa.

Treated poles by Masahe Timber Treaters.Photo by Mashe TT

Treated poles by Masahe Timber Treaters.Photo by Mashe TT

After starting out as a timber grower and supplier in the largest FSC certified Eucalyptus grandis plantation in Swaziland and Southern Africa, Masahe decided to diversify its product offering by expanding into the treatment market. However, they quickly realised they lacked the required technical expertise and were in over their heads.

“After working with various suppliers of CCA and months of unsuccessful SABS audits we were no closer to being certified and felt discouraged by a lack of support. We needed help from guys who knew the game,” says Marwick Sinlongonyane, director of Masahe Timber Treaters.

“When we met Lonza, I immediately felt relieved and re-assured by their high-level skills and commitment to training, which surprisingly came at absolutely no additional cost. Within weeks, we were SABS certified and have never failed another audit,” adds Sinlongonyane.

JJ du Plessis, business manager of Lonza Wood Protection SA, says that upon arrival at Masahe they saw that with a helping hand this company had the motivation, entrepreneurial spirit, and resources to succeed in the treatment market. “As a global leader, Lonza’s support extends beyond the supply of its products. Going the extra mile to help business start-ups find their feet demonstrates our commitment to long-term customer relationships and a sustainable treatment industry,” says du Plessis.

Lonza’s customer account manager, Gareth Wesselman, immediately contacted SABS to request that they review the situation at Masahe and allow an extension of the audit date so that Lonza could help prepare the plant.

“Gareth spent two solid weeks analysing and making recommendations to improve the entire plant process. He trained the operators and walked them through the steps in getting certified with SABS, designed a material flow to help streamline their treating process, set up the yard from timber stacking to all other requirements, and advised on the health and safety requirements of the plant. For a month thereafter, Gareth travelled back and forth to Swaziland to provide further support leading up to the day of the audit,” explains du Plessis.

According to Sinlongonyane, Masahe has since passed every SABS audit and there has been an uptick in product demand since Lonza came on board. “Lonza is the best when it comes to professional support and guidance to produce high quality pressure treated poles. The training was effectively done on our site and over enough days for us to grasp timber treating in detail,” says Sinlongonyane.

Themba Mavimbela, operations director of Masahe Timber Treaters, adds that scratching their heads over finding service parts is now a thing of the past. “Moisture meter pins and all other parts that have been difficult to get from local suppliers are now readily available with Lonza as our supplier,” says Mavimbela.

To keep the plant running optimally, Lonza introduced its Tan-Treat™ Quality Support System to help guide the plant operators on consumption cost savings, performance excellence and efficiency improvements.

“This programme is a masterpiece that every treater should have. We were maintaining six charges a day with unstable orders. But Tan-Treat™ Quality Support System keeps us on our toes by telling us whether we have over or under treated. The control over our stock reconciliation has improved and even our audits are easier through this programme as all our records are kept in the system,” states Mavimbela.

Du Plessis, says, “We don’t build customers for today or tomorrow. We build relationships with the idea of continually adding value to their business, which is why we thoroughly enjoy working with the team at Masahe. Their eagerness to learn and passion to supply the highest quality treated poles makes us proud to be associated with them as their Tanalith® C supplier”.

The value of Lonza’s customer service and support has not only cultivated the company’s long-term customer relationships but has also attracted new customers despite the recent challenges of operating under the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdown. Outpost Treated Timbers was also won over by Lonza’s ‘hands-on’ approach of going above and beyond product sales.

Murray Hibbs of Outpost Treated Timbers, affirms, “Lonza has been superb in their support and genuine interest in the running of our plant. Gareth has been helpful with us getting established as a new Lonza client and is always quick and thorough in answering any questions. It is great to know that the backup is there.”

Sinlongonyane concludes, “Since day one, Lonza has shown us a high standard of customer service and we are grateful to be working with a global brand that sets an example for quality in the industry.”