Innovative business harnesses Wood-Mizer for growth

By Etienne Nagel, Wood-Mizer Contributing Author


Zanchin Timbers directors Annatjie and Hennie Visser occupy a rare position in the South African timber industry.

Their experience over decades trading in the segment has afforded them elder statesman standing amongst peers, this giving the innovative business team the ability to steer Zanchin consistently towards the best opportunities.

Hennie’s early association with Mondi’s drymill activities built his experience and gave him an eye for gaps in the timber market that innovative small businesses could fill.

Annatjie’s can-do attitude, fast wit, and determination to succeed saw the director-pair launch Zanchin Timbers in 1993.


Innovating a business

The new company first focussed on profiled timber, ceilings and panelling, the profile components in part going to manufacturers producing storage and housing units called Wendy houses in South Africa.

But the alert-to-opportunity business pair knew that profits would expand if they sourced wet-off-saw timber that they could dry in-house instead of buying dry timber from outside suppliers.

A used kiln sourced from a sawmill near Piet Retief in one of South Africa’s key timber production areas, the Mpumalanga Highveld gave Zanchin the break it needed.

But the ever-restless business pair soon hunted for even larger margins – the potential that their kiln offered priming their interest?

Their decision to start a custom timber drying service available to manufacturers, sawmillers and timber retailers in South Africa and Africa that need timber dry without having to invest in dry capacity themselves, rewrote the rules for timber drying on the continent.

By using the service, producers now could increase margins and slash costs.

Instead of selling wet-off-saw timber at a loss, sawmillers could now dry their timber first before selling it on to customers at a premium. Customers could also use Zanchin’s burgeoning timber marketing division to find buyers for their dried timber.

Manufacturers now had a direct and flexible route to dried timber that cost less than the dried product from traditional suppliers.  

With Zanchin’s sawmilling operations also taking off Africa, timber merchants now also had a ready supply of exotic dried product that the market paid a premium for.

Even more important was that sawmillers in Africa with no access to drying could now use Zanchin’s expertise to dry product for them before selling it on to customers abroad at a premium.


Building with Wood-Mizer

With their drying service taking off, the fearless business pair next turned to even more business refinement.

Instead of relying on timber suppliers from Africa to supply Zanchin with hardwoods from Africa and South Africa, Hennie and Annatjie in 2017 started Zanchin’s sawmilling division.

Headed up Hennie Visser Junior, the division sawmills in Botswana and Zambia with Zanchin investing in Wood-Mizer sawmilling capacity to produce their own sawn timber. The extra cash and reduced overheads allowed for even further expansion.

A timber marketing division to ensure a ready market for sawn timber was the next step. So too the decision to deepen their value addition processes, the production of profiled flooring and decking boosting Zanchin’s income and allowing for yet a further stage of their expansion.

The addition of a Wood-Mizer MP260 four-sided planer moulder allowed Zanchin to flexibly produce a range of profiled products without the accompanying price tag of larger planer moulders.


Wood-Mizer MP260 – affordable industrial planing and profiling

“The decision to buy the MP260 was an easy one,” says Riaan Visser, Annatjie and Hennie’s son and co-director of Zanchin Timbers.  

“The unit gave us access to affordable planing and profiling capacity that cost far less than a heavy-duty moulder without compromising on quality and output,”Riaan continues. “With MP260’s ability to lane and mould in one pass, we also needed fewer machines to produced ready-to-sell profiled product. 

Manufactured by Wood-Mizer to exacting European standards, the MP260 four-sided planer moulder is a versatile, compact machine engineered to allow for cost-effective planing and moulding with a large 4-sided cutting capacity of 260 mm x 100 mm. 

An easy-to-use centralised control panel allows the operator to start/stop all four cutters and power feed motors separately. 

It can produce a variety of professionally finished products including flooring and decking, planed boards, profiled mouldings, cabinet trim, panelling, door and window frames, and furniture components.

The unit’s four cutter heads are all driven by 3 kW motors with five powered feed rollers (4 steel and one polyurethane) ensuring the smooth and precise movement of the workpiece through the unit.

Subscribe to Receive Email Updates
Be the first to hear about new products, promotions, customer projects, and more with our free Wood-Mizer Newsletter. Sign up today!