Timberlife (Pty) Ltd – A Company Overview
Founded in 1993, Timberlife started with literally nothing but a vision to become the market leader in the supply of a complete range of timber treatment products in South Africa and neighboring countries. After many years of hard work and dedication, Timberlife has emerged as one of the leading companies that manufactures and supplies a vast range of timber treatment chemicals, many of which not only are unique in the local market, but also internationally.
What is different about Timberlife?
All our main line products are “Proudly and uniquely Timberlife”. This means that all the formulations have been developed in-house and cover a product range of well over 50 different timber treatment chemicals that have been successfully commercialized.
Timberlife is the only local company, and one of only a very few companies in the world that manufactures and supplies a comprehensive range of wood preserving, wood protection and wood finishing products. In this particular market segment of the timber industry, Timberlife therefore services the entire pipeline. Broadly speaking, this includes the timber processors (saw millers, pole treaters, etc.), timber product manufacturers, (e.g. window and door manufacturers, joinery and furniture manufacturers.) as well as timber end-users (deck builders, log home builders, thatchers, DIY-ears, etc.)
Why has Timberlife been successful?
Sustained product innovation and development, motivated by constant customer needs identification and analysis, was and still is the key to Timberlife’s successful introduction of such a broad spectrum of timber treatment products into the Southern African market. For example, many wood protection products have been specifically developed for industrial applications and use by manufacturers of windows and doors, up market outdoor wooden furniture as well as for developers and contactors.
It is our belief that the very basic requirements for the successful development of wood protection products is a sound knowledge of wood itself as well as the behavior of wood when used under different conditions of exposure. A clear understanding of wood deterioration and the prevention thereof is essential when deciding on the most appropriate wood protection system to be formulated. During the initial stages of research and development, important questions that we address and keep in mind throughout the process, are:
What is the desired functionality of the particular product;
Other important criteria also taken into consideration are the life expectancy of the product, the application process or method required, frequency and ease of maintenance, health, safety and environmental aspects and obviously the cost effectiveness of the desired product.
However, at the end of the day it is the customer that dictates what he wants and it is therefore necessary to satisfy his needs. Our philosophy has always been to listen to the customer and whenever, work with him rather than against him. We therefore believe that “feed-back is the food of kings” and develop and/or improve our products accordingly.
What significant achievements have Timberlife accomplished?
Some unique technologies that have been developed and commercialized by Timberlife over the years and that still are the only locally formulated and manufactured products of its kind available for timber treatment and protection in Southern Africa, can be summarized as follows:
To date, it is still the most cost effective wood preservative available in Southern Africa. Also, from a health and safety point of view, it has always been and still is the preferred wood preservative available.
A highly effective and cost competitive formulation that provides wide-spectrum protection again blue stain and mould growth problems commonly experienced with wet pine timbers.
These are the only two registered products that have been approved for use on Eskom wooden utility poles to protect the critical external ground-line area against fungal decay and termite attack.
These are the only two registered products of its kind for DIY as well as industrial use in South Africa. The VIKA ROD has also been approved for use on Eskom wooden utility poles to protect of the critical internal ground-line area against fungal decay.
Not only was Timberlife the first South African company to develop and manufacture these borate-based rods, but is also one of only six companies in the world that have developed this type of technology.
FLAMBOR has been patented and accepted internationally. For example, it has been tested and approved by Disney World engineers for fire protection treatment of Eucalyptus poles used in the construction of the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge. Subsequently, FLAMBOR-treated Eucalyptus poles have also been tested in accordance with ASTM E-84 – “Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials” and have successfully passed the minimum requirements for a Class A rating.
It is a first in the world for permanent protection of thatching grass and reed. Has been patented and accepted internationally. For example, it has been tested and approved for fire protection treatment of thatching grass used in large public projects in Hawaii. The only product to pass the stringent permanency and fire retardant tests of the ASTM D 2898-94, “Accelerated Weathering of Fire-Retardant Treated Wood Products for Fire Testing”, showing that THATCHBOR does not leach from vacuum/pressure treated thatching grass after exposure to extensive rain and heat.
Other significant product technologies, to name a few, that have also been developed and commercialized by Timberlife, include the following:
How does Timberlife service its customer base?
Apart from its own KwaZulu Natal branch in Pinetown, Timberlife has also appointed the following distributors for marketing and distribution of its DIY wood care product range: Brits Pale (North West Province), JT Distributors (Eastern Mpumalanga and Mozambique), AIP Chemicals (Eastern Cape), Northern Building Supplies (Northern Botswana), Hemco Distributors (Namibia) and Micon Coatings (Zambia).
Timberlife has a well trained sales team and technical representatives servicing customers from our head office in Pretoria. We take pride in the fact that we provide a comprehensive technical backup service to all our customers, helping them to select the right product for the desired job and to ensure that the product is correctly applied and maintained. Technical Information Sheets, Product Data Sheets and Material Safety Data Sheets are also available to further assist our customers in making the right product choice.
What about the future?
Timberlife has certainly focused and lived up to its vision. Our focus and determination to reach certain set goals have been rewarded with many successes and make us proud of what we have achieved.
One of our remaining focus areas is to become more visible to the home owner and expand further into the DIY market with our wood care products through retail outlets. We believe that we now have the right product range for this market segment. All we need to do is to establish a good strategic marketing and promotional approach. For example, a more user friendly product selection chart has been designed for our DIY wood finishes range which will be complemented with a colour chart of all our different stain additives.
Furthermore, the need for the development of more acceptable, newer generation chemical products for timber treatment is growing at an ever increasing rate. This creates new challenges and consequently opportunities for formulators and manufacturers of timber treatment chemicals that have never been experienced before. Therefore, as far as the future of Timberlife is concerned, we firmly believe that the sky is the limit.