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The front runner of South Africa’s utility pole industry and the largest supplier of creosoted poles in the southern hemisphere Treated Timber Products has set the grain for its industry since its inception in 1939 when the company was founded by James Hunt Holley, President of the South African Forestry Association. With a legacy of professionalism being the piers of customer service, quality and competitive pricing we caught up with Financial Manager Gary Wessels regards to how these mandates are governing the company seven decades later.


Quality really does start at the roots. Focussed on the production of treated transmission poles, the company pioneered a move that improved the standards to ensure that quality treated poles can now be produced consistently and has recently moved into the production of building and fence poles as well as into guard rail and spacer blocks. To facilitate the regular and reliable source of timber they have also purchased and leased a number of timber farms.


ur core activity is the manufacture, treatment and supply of quality transmission poles for the local and export market,” Gary explains, “We

have six main facilities, Broadmoor farm, the Cramond operation and the Ashton facilities in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands and the Lows Creek Plant and Mkhuhlu in Mpumulanga.” The Mkhuhlu in Mpumulanga was a new plant that was built from scratch and after they received their environmental licence they commenced production on the 1st May 2014. “The location of these facilities is important as they are all situated within close proximity of South Africa’s largest port, Durban Harbour and the Maputo port for easy and cost efficient access to the export markets,” he tells us, “And as for distribution we have our own fleet of vehicles which enables us to meet all of our customer requirements within specified timelines.”

Dolphin Bay is a proud supplier of CCA timber preservatives Pole To Pole Gary says that the demand from the local market has been below to Treated Timber Products par for the past six months while in contrast the export market into Africa has been very buoyant, he explains, “Dealing in Africa always has its hurdles which we have learnt about over the past thirty odd years of being in the export market. Finance is the biggest obstacle as many of the customers do not have access to any significant funds to buy poles on a scale that will enable them to expand the electricity network however the export market outlook remains positive for the next twelve months.”

The quality of the wood, the new machinery that has been brought in to support the facilities and the exports markets would be all for nought if not for the 550 dedicated staff working at TTP, “Our employees are very important to us,” Gary says, “We value their loyalty. And appreciate their dedication to the highest of standards.” Staff are monitored on a daily basis, including production levels but more importantly quality. All goods are checked for quality during the entire manufacturing process so that any errors can be sorted before they become problems. Additionally, staff are regularly trained and sent on refresher courses to ensure that they retain the required skills to keep these standards at an optimum level. “As we promote from within, individual staff development is extremely important,” he says, “We believe in promoting from within the company and those who show aptitudes are encouraged to progress up the ladder.” Each of the poles is manufactured in terms of TTP’s SANS standard or to Eskom’s standard, they also comply and have implemented ISO 9001. “Every pole that is made is inspected to ensure that it meets these standards,” he says, “And customer questionnaires are sent out annually to invite complaints and feedback which are then followed up with regular contact.”

Seafreight - 20’s, 40’s, specialised equipment, breakbulk or project cargo • Container packing and crosshaul • Customs clearance • Shipping documentation • Inland haulage • Container sales and leasing

Cook Close, 6 St Mary’s Road, Kloof, 3610, South Africa Tel : (+27) 31 764 3169 Cell: (+27) 83 3878080 Fax:+27-86-6376987 Email: Web:

Southern Ocean Line has collaborated with Treated Timber Products since 2008 when they shipped a total of 108 x 40’ on 3 vessels within a week of each other. Now they arrange shipments as well as customs clearance, local transport at both ends and other documentary and logistical requirements to varying degrees. Their experience as well as good relationships with many carriers allows them to negotiate favourable rates and terms for all their clients.

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These questionnaires are very important to TTP because

“These developments that mean great changes for Treated

customers complaints are usually merely questions or suggestions

Timber Products,” Gary explains, “By injecting new fresh enthusiasm

and often provide the fastest routes to improvement and

into the company with new ideas it has allowed us to recover better

development, “After sales is extremely important,” Gary adds,

prices for timber, farming operations and spreading the overhead

“Naturally, the customer base forms one of the backbones of the

costs over a wider base which allow for higher profits and better

company and we do everything in our power to fulfil their needs.”


Competition in this field is naturally very high with new players

This is critical to the future operations of the company, Gary

entering the market all the time. Meaning that it is not enough to

goes on to tell us, approximately 1 200 hectares of prime timber

merely maintain a position but requires a constant development and

plantations has recently been secured through long terms leases to

progression, “It’s a team effort. Staff are required to make themselves

ensure a long term timber supply to the company, “These plantations

aware of all projects locally and internationally and to monitor the

are all strategically situated in close proximity to the plants to ensure

parties that have expressed an interest in these projects,” he tells

a reliable and effective timber supply.”

us, “Then, with each project they ensure that a strict quality control

Investing into staff, a separate team of individuals has been set

and enforcement is put in place, that they balance a fair price with

up to get the building and fence pole division going, “There was

a quality product and keep in regular contact with their clients. The

no major cash cost involved apart from approximately about a year

last one is particularly important because we have relationships

where they were looking to a new manager to lead this division, “We

we’ve built up over the last seven decades.”

are currently looking at an approximate R500 000 of investment to improve efficiencies in building sorting tables to speed up the

New Managing Director, New Place, New Faces 2014 has already proved to be a year of development and change, with the appointment of Lloyd Holley as the Managing Director, with the previous MD remaining on as Chairman of the Board of directors and the expansions into new markets, purchases of timber plantations and the establishment of the Mkhuhulu plant in Mpumulanga

process of cutting to size, sorting and applying quality control checks,” Gary adds, “The Mkhuhulu plant has taken approximately 15 months to get up and running with an estimated cost of R 12 million so we wanted to make sure that the division was ready and suited for the task.” With such a long history of success behind them Treated Timber Products will no doubt keep working along the grain and keeping to the straight and narrow road of success.

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