23, Feb 2024 -

Executive Director’s Report / November Newsletter 2023

Executive Director’s Report / November Newsletter 2023


Read the full November Newsletter HERE

So we have arrived on the doorstep of December 2023. I can’t believe we are looking at the end of yet another year.

While 2023 has not been as dramatic as some of the past years’ challenges of Covid 19 and devastating forest fires, it has certainly been one of the toughest years in terms of lower demand for our sawmill products.

Eish, we have never seen anything like it. I know that some of the older millers out there will be saying “You should have been around in the 80’s or early 90’s”. Be that as it may, I have been around for quite some time and I have certainly never experienced anything like 2023.

Opening up export channels
Thomas Craddock has been flying our flag at the Inter-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in Cairo, Egypt. He will soon be sharing his findings with regard to the African demand for softwood structural lumber. Thomas informs me that he met with a substantial timber trader in Cairo who uses a lot structural timber, sourced mainly from Scandinavia and Russia and is more than willing to talk to the South African suppliers about our offerings. We hope that the initiative of the Export Working Group will start to pay off in the new year.

In other news on the export front: we have been invited to attend the launch of the Top Exporters Network, a group that is being formed by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and will be dedicated to businesses and industry groups who are serious about export. SSA will certainly take part and play its role here.

Next webinar
Tuesday 12 December sees our final Talking Timber webinar for 2023. On the topic of structural design considerations and testing, we will have Dr Johann van der Merwe and Prof Brand Wessels sharing their insights. Register here.

Sad news for the sawmilling “family”
Many of you would have heard about the closure of Steven Lumber Mills (SLM), a family owned sawmilling business up in the Haenertsburg district of Limpopo. SLM was run by the founder Steven Schoeman’s daughter Monika who despite concerted efforts to save the mill had to eventually close up shop. The final nail in the coffin for this respected old family business was the auctioning off of the last of the plant and machinery this month. This is a sad day for South African sawmilling and we certainly hope not a sign for the future.

Wrapping up
Year end is always stressful as many of us tie up loose ends and close off the books. Let’s hope this will be offset by a refreshing summer break and time with your loved ones. 

Please have a special and blessed festive season and a wonderful and prosperous New Year and, from all of us here at SSA to sawmillers across the country, may 2024 hold better fortunes for you.

Just remember not to overdo the year-end partying and let’s adopt responsible behaviour. If you are travelling, please travel safely to and from your holiday destinations.

However don’t forget to keep cutting straight and drying flat and we will talk again next year.   
Until 2024.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

Read the full November Newsletter HERE

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