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Study money builds a successful sawmill

Friday, November 27, 2020

Study money builds a successful sawmill

“I am blessed to have very wise parents, even more so to have an excellent mentor in my Dad,” says Pieter van der Linde, then 22-year old owner of Duva Timbers outside Polokwane in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.


“My parents saved for me to study after school. After school, my Dad, with my Mother’s blessing gave me a choice. Go study or start a business – you choose?


“My Dad, who had a sawmill as part of a successful career in business, suggested a sawmill. My mother, who had funds available to start me off agreed.


“With funds from my Dad also in my pocket, I had the green light,” Pieter smiles.


Wood-Mizer oils the gears

Meeting Pieter van der Linde for the first time, it is noticeable how young he is. That, and the respect that he commands, is seemingly first at odds with his age.

The LT70 transfers cut boards without labour to the edger. Feeding boards from both sides to the EG800 drives Duva’s inline layout success.

But when his early business success is compared with his school mates’’ emerging careers at the same age, it’s clear that his authority is earned.


Pieter has a crystal-clear vision of where his business is heading.


But that was not always the case when he started Duva Timbers in 2016.


“My Dad first told me about Wood-Mizer after I wasted time searching for sawmilling equipment,” Pieter says. “But with Wood-Mizer in my corner, it went fast.”


A first Wood-Mizer LT15 sawmill in 2016 allowed him to try his hand at pallet timber. But the low profits of pallet material and an initial hobby approach to the business did not bring much success.


A gap in the structural timber market drew Pieter’s attention. The change in focus brought immediate success with a Wood-Mizer EG300 Board Edger and a second LT15 in early 2017 proof of this.


But Pieter had his eye on a bigger prize.


Improved output and recovery targets saw Pieter trading in his first LT15 in July 2017 for a Wood-Mizer LT70 Remote.


The remote configuration of the LT70 allows the operator to control all the functions needed to process the logs into boards in an efficient, fast and automated manner.

The benefits it offered allowed Pieter to put a simple but highly productive in-line sawmill layout in place with which he could reach the targets that he had set himself.


The remote configuration of the LT70 allows the operator to control all the functions needed to process the 6 – 6.6 m log intake into boards with wane in an efficient, fast and automated manner. From log intake to the board exiting the unit, minimal labour is needed to move the board to the recently commissioned Wood-Mizer TITAN EG800 edger where final sizes are cut.


The fact that Pieter commissioned his first LT70 Remote scarcely one year after his first LT15 is testimony to Duva Timbers’ growth and his ambition to succeed.


A second LT70 Remote followed in 2019, the two units now combining to increase productivity even further.


Markets also duplicated, Duva Timbers currently selling air-dried structural timber in all the popular sizes to hardware’s across the Limpopo Province, to walk-in customers and custom orders delivered to clients by a fleet of trucks owned by Pieter’s father.

The EG800’s high throughput capacity and 120 mm throat height is ideal for producing popular structural timber sizes.

The same fleet also truck logs in from Komatiland Forests to Duva for an estimated monthly output of between 800 and 1000 cubic meters of sawn timber.


Setting the future with more growth

Key areas earmarked by Pieter van der Linde for future growth include improving recovery figures further. Planers and a finger-joint line form part of the strategy to turn offcuts into a saleable product.


Improving on the already successful inline sawmill layout is also on the cards.


The recently commissioned Wood-Mizer TITAN EG800 Edger that replaced the EG300 is the first step to achieve this. The EG800’s high throughput capacity can significantly expand production going forward. It’s 120 mm throat height is also ideal for producing popular structural timber sizes for overall profitability increases.


Pieter has also earmarked land for future commercial forests, the availability of logs providing for an integrated production cycle from forest to final form. “I have time on my side to grow forests,” Pieter smiles knowingly.

Duva Timbers’ simple but highly productive mill layout.

“My success to date has also been my team. Expanding on this strength going forward is important,” says Pieter. “Michael Ferreira, Duva Timbers’ Sales Manager, Alicia Zeelie who looks after HR and Sales and my Dad, have been instrumental in my success to date.


A final take

It is rare to encounter the energy and focus that Pieter van der Linde has – even more at such a young age.

Structural timber ready for shipment to customers.

Part of it is an instinctive sense to find partners to build his dream into reality.


“My partnership with Wood-Mizer has been and remains an extremely important part of the ingredients that have helped me grow to where I am now.”


Pieter van der Linde, Managing Director of Duva Timbers.

Give Pieter van der Linde another five years, but then again, the sky is the limit.



Welcome to the Newsroom for Wood-Mizer Africa! 

Here you will discover how Wood-Mizer sawmill owners worldwide are actively growing local economies by processing wood more sustainably and profitably. 

I invite you to contact myself to inquire more about Wood-Mizer or any of these articles. 

Etienne Nagel Wood-Mizer PR journalist Africa Asia
Content Specialist

Etienne Nagel
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