Middle Eastern GULF TIMBER COMPANY Reaps Success With Sales In American Hardwoods
By Michael Buckley
Gulf Timber Company’s (GTC) Operations Manager Marius Van Der Berg with American Ash inventory. GTC is located in Sharjah, UAE.
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE)–Gulf Timber Company, GTC as it is known, is based here but its reach goes wider. According to its South African-born Operations Manager Marius Van Der Berg, the company is now working across the Middle East as a specialist hardwood supplier to the region. Italian partner Florian Legnami Group has a rich history in sawmilling and provides GTC with consistent supplies of mainly American and European hardwoods.
The South African partners have been trading hardwoods globally for over a decade bringing their marketing expertise to the venture. Initially distribution was established by GTC at a bulk warehouse in Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah for the purpose of importing and distributing high quality timber and related products into the UAE. GTC concentrates on bulk sales and the smaller bundle trade business. With sales developing in other countries the company has now established a warehousing facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in order to further service that important market within the region and is in the process of opening a warehouse and logistics distribution centre in Doha, Qatar.
Pictured is kiln-dried American White Oak wrapped for delivery from GTC. Forty percent of GTC’s sales are comprised of American hardwood species.
GTC was recently a front line exhibitor at the Dubai Woodshow with both its partners and local staff meeting customers, many of which were from markets such as Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The company draws its customers from general manufacturing as well as construction industries and regional contractors and the show is an important conduit to the regional timber traders who regard Dubai as a timber trading hub.
At the show Van Der Berg commented that there had not been too many UAE visitors but that was well compensated for by the number of regional visitors who had attended. “Overall the show has drawn many people from the industry that we were happy to meet and we were particularly pleased to notice that the visitors’ profile has improved a lot in this last edition,” he said.
The company already has a long standing and extensive network of clients and supplies timber and timber products to a wide range of sectors in the region in addition to the construction industry. The off-shore and on-shore oil and gas companies, marine construction enterprises and ship builders all need timber products. The shipbuilding throughout the Greater Middle East, as GTC refers to it, and the construction industry particularly need hardwood materials for joinery. The furniture industry is also an important sector to the company’s growth. This takes knowledgeable sales staff to service their requirements with an in-depth understanding of timber products and all their applications, which GTC offers. Experienced logistics partners are also an essential element to the mix to ensure on time deliveries and shipping information.
Sourcing of timber and wood products is at the heart of the joint venture. Florian Legnami Group currently owns and operates one of the largest saw milling and timber trading operations throughout Europe from where it exports to 45 countries. It cuts most of the American species from high quality imported logs – Red and White Oak, Hard Maple, Black Cherry and Walnut in its sawmill in Venice. Six sawmills produce European hardwoods – Beech, Sycamore, Maple, Oak and Ash. From Malaysia the company’s trading partner supplies large volumes of Red and Yellow Meranti lumber, both air-dried and kiln-dried. West African hardwoods are imported with the main species on offer being Sapele, Mahogany, Iroko, Wawa, Dadema and Afromosia all of which are well-accepted throughout the GCC and Middle East.
This is part of GTC’s tropical hardwood inventory, which includes Sapele, Mahogany, Iroko, Wawa, Dadema and Afromosia.
Marius Van Der Berg is not willing to be pinned down about species trends or timber fashions in the region. “It entirely depends on the projects in hand” he says, a common response in the Middle East. “We are dependent on specifiers and their current tastes and the project architects which change all the time,” he adds. But he estimates that 40% of the company’s sales are in American hardwoods, 40% in European and the balance split between Africa and Malaysia. However GTC’s partner in Italy boasts a vast range from all over the temperate and tropical timber producing world.
GTC is now also very strong in the supply of veneers, sheet materials and laminated lumber. GTC stocks FSC certified as well as uncertified veneer in its Sharjah warehouse. “Premium Timber Solutions for the Global Market” is its strap-line, but “The World’s Timber for Middle East Solutions” might be just as appropriate.