UFP’s Entrepreneur of the Year award

June 26, 2012

United Forest Products (UFP) is a small timber marketing company with a big future. It was launched in mid-2010 to market timber for independent growers in the region.UFP has made quite an impact in the industry in a short space of time with a small staff of just three people, under the energetic leadership of CEO Joey Lascelles.

Joey Lascelles Joey Lascelles receiving UFP's Entrepreneur of the Year award.

UFP has 10 committed shareholder members plus a number of growers, traders and service providers who are ordinary members. The company is currently selling between 17 000 and 18 000 tons of timber a month on their behalf.
"Our aim is to make it as cheap as possible for members to market their timber," said Joey.

Run on co-operative lines

Although it's a private company with 10 shareholders (all timber growers in the region) who share in the profits, UFP is run along the lines of a co-operative. Its primary function is to identify the best markets with the best prices for members' timber, whether it be poles, mining timber, pulp, sawtimber, biomass or charcoal, and to facilitate the sale of that timber in return for a commission. The company is supplying markets in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, Swaziland and Mozambique. They are looking to add Botswana and Namibia to their marketing network in the near future.

Company profits are distributed annually to the shareholder members based on their patronage and committed supply.

In reality, the range of services performed by UFP is growing organically. UFP is now also assisting small black growers with finding competent harvesting contractors, arranging transport and accessing the best markets. It seeks to add value by guaranteeing payment for timber sold through accredited markets, providing early payment to small suppliers where possible and paying transporters and contractors weekly.

The company has recently been asked to manage timber farms in the Sudwala area, and has employed a forester to start providing extension services to members and suppliers.

Thus, UFP plays a key role as a facilitator of timber marketing which brings benefits to all the stakeholders in the supply chain network, including members, services and equipment suppliers, timber traders, markets and processors.

Joey says that business has been good and the company has been growing nicely, despite the fact that the markets have been up and down. She said the market for mining timber has been tight following the strikes and work stoppages, and this has resulted in an oversupply situation in the pulp markets. However, she is expecting these markets to improve significantly from May onwards.

Meanwhile, she reports that the markets for building, fencing and transmission poles and charcoal have been good, while demand from pallet mills for the small diameter sawlogs is constant.

The company earned recognition from the local business community in 2011, winning the Entrepreneur of the Year award presented by the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism. Joey is also playing an increasingly influential role in the industry, and is an active committee member of the Mpumalanga Lowveld Timber Theft Forum.

UFP is a dynamic company that has found a niche within the timber industry, and is already making a difference.

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  • Gradely Farms
  • Moyamanzi Farm
  • Pull Scar Estates
  • Bloemac Farm
  • Graskop Pale
  • Paharpur Natural Resources
  • Swaziland Plantations – Swaziland
  • Peter's Rest
  • Bedrock MS. 

Published in April 2012

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