High levels of Wood-Mizer band blades sales in Turkey will result in an increase in the company's sawmills and ancillary kit there, predicts Erol Kanat, founder of ER-KA, distributor since 2007.
Twenty Wood-Mizer mills operate in Turkey but far more of the company's blades are used in the country than these mills need.
The explanation lies in Erol Kanat's strategy of selling 'tailored' Wood-Mizer blades to ten times more sawyers than to Wood-Mizer owners. This is achieved through ER-KA's twenty sub agents who sell the blades to operators of competitive band saws throughout Turkey. Almost a third of the country (21 million hectares) is ancient forest. Sixty per cent is dominated by coniferous species and broadleaved species account for the other 40 per cent. ER-KA customers mostly saw oak and pine (Calabrian and Crimean).
Rather than buying blades from Wood-Mizer in the normal finished form, ER-KA orders them as coils of blade strips - not welded together. This permits them to be conjoined subsequently in lengths which fit other band saws or Wood-Mizers. It also gets ER-KA close to non-Wood-Mizer owners through promotions and product development news.
This departure followed a conversation between Erol Kanat and Wood-Mizer's Italian dealer Pasquale Felice at Italy's Xylexpo
trade fair in Milan 2008. Signor Felice had been successfully dealing in blades to not only his Italian sawmill customers but to operators of competitive band saws too.
Similarly adding blade sales on a big scale to ER-KA's activities has galvanised its agents. Erol Kanat saw the opportunities of trading in Wood-Mizer blades in Turkey.
He had not investigated his customers' preference for blade sharpening or replacements at that stage. Furthermore, it transpired that some agents sharpened blades with dry grinders, regarded as unsuitable for Wood-Mizer blades.
Signor Felice revealed that he was earning as much if not more from Wood-Mizer's unfinished band blade coils than he
was from selling the mills themselves. Erol Kanat saw the light. He immediately began buying in unfinished coils in 100-metre boxes and welded them together at his Danana factory, in southern Turkey on the eastern Mediterranean.
He ceased stocking coils of finished blades of various lengths and began cutting and welding to individual customers' requirements, which obviously depended on the particular mill they used. Subsequently, analysis of feedback from these customers revealed that they had begun sawing for entire eight-hour shifts instead of replacing blades every two to four hours. Traditional Turkish sawmills rotate a blade on the wheels slower than Wood-Mizer mills. Normal Wood-Mizer blade speed is about 29 metres per second (the linear speed which a blade rotates, rather than cutting speed). Furthermore, a Wood-Mizer blade is designed for tough conditions. Slow rotation involves less dulling and enables users to delay sharpening for eight hours which can keep costs down.
They pronounced the new blades even stronger than the previous ones. Consumption of diesel oil for periodically cleaning blades was halved.
When necessary, ER-KA began grinding blades on a CBN-stone grinder. Enthusiastic customers began claiming that tailored blade life was now eight-to-ten times more than that of conventional blades. However, it emerged that competitors had wider ranges of blades, such as those of eight to ten centimetres.
But rather than discarding blades which had diminished through sharpening to four or five centimetres, Erol Kanat maintained - to no little scepticism - that coils of even five centimetres could cut well. After using four coils of that size customers were convinced.
Next, Erol Kanat discovered that although certain customers indeed liked the new coils he was unable to sell to them because of the limited range. He overcame this when, undeterred, he offered a three-inch (c75mm) coil similar to those already offered in competitive narrow band ranges.
His agents are naturally kept up-to-date about Wood-Mizer band sawmill developments and innovations and these 'blades agents' pass on such information to their own customers who in turn approach ER-KA.
Ultimately, he wants his agents to sell the mills in Turkey and maintain both mills and blades. As is normal with Wood-Mizer, blade coil sales grow exponentially. But ER-KA also sells coils now to non-Wood-Mizer band saw operators and furthermore encourages amongst them a healthy interest in Wood-Mizer band sawmill developments.
Erol Kanat reveals than he sells Wood-Mizer band saw coils to many hundreds of operators and through this is determined to increase Turkey's band sawmill population on the back of them, commenting:
"We shall achieve this: 'From micro to macro'.
"Certainly the Turkish timber processing market is ready for it", he adds.
The International Monetary Fund would agree, predicting: '…following the Turkish recession and a deep contraction in the first quarter of 2010 there has been a seven per cent rebound in the second quarter.
'If these figures are annualised, they would reach 25 per cent growth in Turkey this year', the I.M.F. report concludes.
It is reasonable to hope that Turkish wood processing will grow similarly.Above:
Erol Kanat proprietor of Er-Ka, Wood-Mizer's Turkish representative, left, talks to British branch manager David Biggs, with Howard Blackbourn, the Finnish dealer behind them at a meeting at the company's European headquarters in Poland.Below:
left, at the same occasion Signora Pierina D'amico from Wood-Mizer Italian dealers follows Erol Kanat to demonstrations.