Richard Vivers, chief operating officer outlines
From modest 2010 recovery to guiding our new year into exciting world pastures
Speaking in his new role as chief operating officer for Wood-Mizer’s worldwide business, Richard Vivers reports that 2010 turned out surprisingly well.
True, some areas are struggling but he sees progress in them and in any case the overall picture is good. This reflects the world economy. Global trade has risen 5% above its trend and quicker than was forecast twelve months ago.
Although Wood-Mizer is active in pretty well all regions Richard Vivers sees future growth coming mostly from the euro zone, the United States and, particularly, emerging markets.
The euro zone’s troubles have been real and affected Wood-Mizer’s trading. However, the zone grew at a decent rate for an ageing continent due to some ‘oomph’ from Germany, the quickest growing big rich economy in 2010.
Many people think this year will follow the growth of the previous one and Richard Vivers comments:
"We think 2011 will bring Wood-Mizer greater growth by virtue of our entering (re-entering in some cases) emerging markets.
"Our expansion into Asia and the Far East already delivers results and indications are that this will continue and could multiply.
"South American sales will re-establish themselves despite an inflation scare in the biggest economy, that of Brazil.
"Our growth in the euro zone could be sluggish but based on high turnover. However, most people and certainly Wood-Mizer feel that talk of the demise of the euro is foolish; its benefits far outweigh its temporary problems. It has been a boon to international trade in ‘euroland’, in the extended European Union and far beyond in non-EU countries.
Overall, our European sales grew 17% last year and we predict improvements in 2011.
"United States sales grew 20% in 2010 and as it moves away from austerity so will our sales increase there.
"I believe that one of the reasons we did well in the USA last year and reasonably well in Europe is because the two continents worked together and shared similar economic philosophies. Long may it continue!"
The new appointment of Luis Parrales to handle all South American sales will bring Wood-Mizer back into these expanding areas – not least into Brazil, one of the so-called bric countries, currently growing more than 8% per year.
Additionally, the appointment of James Wong in early 2010 as regional manager for Asia and the Far East has already reaped welcome sales in new and hitherto not so active parts of the world. From Wood-Mizer’s wholly-owned branch in Singapore, James Wong has supported a new distributorship in Bhutan, where he arranged a meeting between Richard Vivers and team with the deputy prime minister. The deputy pm indicated that Wood-Mizer’s technology fitted well with the country’s ‘gross national happiness’ policy which embraces a desire to conserve their natural forest resource.
James Wong is also actively supporting a distributorship in India (growing at over 8% p.a.) and has recently appointed Bobbie Ruban Joseph, based in Kerala, as sales manager for India to work closely with the distributor. Already several ‘orange’ sawmills and two slp lines operate in the sub-continent and now their numbers are set to increase.
Recent Wood-Mizer sawmilling equipment sales have been achieved by James Wong in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Richard Vivers adds:
"We have high hopes in Asia and the East."
Wood-Mizer’s wholly owned branches bring advantages that reinforce the concept of a general policy of active, directed presence in major markets. Local operators and potential customers respond particularly to a supplier’s dedicated presence, where there is a well equipped office, and readily available stocks, individual training and maintenance and a manager who is sensitive to local needs.
There are fourteen worldwide.
The Moscow branch’s success recently led to relocation to a dedicated facility three kilometres from Moscow’s outer ring road. Here, 500 square metres are equipped to latest business requirements. A heated warehouse stores quantities of blade stock, sharpeners, setters and several sawmills.
In France our successful distributorship under Emmanuel Poulain in the north of the Pas-de-Calais has converted to a branch a few kilometres south, run by Mme Laurence Serrurier. Emmanuel Poulain now concentrates on spreading the Wood-Mizer word in Africa. The new branch may further expand into a Franco-Iberian sales function.
Singapore shows significant successes, Romania is doing relatively well in view of that country’s economy, the UK is improving (40% up on 2009) although the banking crisis remains a burden. Nordik (Norway/Sweden) has consolidated its position and returned to modest growth and Germany’s sales (at 2006 levels, regarded as a very successful year then) are static but of high volume.
Sharpening blades sales
Last year also saw dramatic sales of Wood-Mizer’s band saw blades to both our own mill owners and increasingly to operators of other band saw brands.
Now, seventeen blades lines operate in Kolo and twelve in Indiana where four more are currently being installed to meet demand. The Russian branch sold more than one million metres of blades in 2010!
The sharpening of blades sales was partly stimulated by launch of the RazorTip blade aimed at processors of abrasive, extra hard, wood species.
Extending product lines
"We widened our product ranges in response to certain wood processing opportunities identified last year", says Richard Vivers.
He cites the MP100 moulder/planer attachment as attracting surprising sales levels. Originally aimed at northern Europe where for example log cabins are common it is also being bought in America and in Asia.
He also harbours high hopes for just-launched HR115 and HR110 simple resaws. These economical resaw systems are based on LT15 and LT10 sawing heads.
A single blade edger dubbed the EG50 has been developed for unveiling at Ligna. Richard Vivers’ new role enabled him to ‘cross fertilise’ American designs with European norms to create a simply entry edger that is hoped to create much interest in Hannover at the end of May.
An industrial scale band sawmill, the WM3500 (evolved from the formerly-named LT300 mills) offers faster and more efficient log sawing, makes better use of the head, has better materials handling and is suitable for multiple shifts.
A new mill, the WM1000, designed to handle logs up to 1.7m in diameter, is also being released to production and will be officially launched at Ligna 2011.
Finally, offering segmented beds for mills has moved on from the widely successful LT20B. Now an LT40B and an LT70B join the line. All three can be used in static processing set-ups and be remotely controlled.
Richard Vivers is now president of Wood-Mizer’s corporate sawmills division, representing 95% of the corporation.
Worldwide Wood-Mizer sales, marketing, R&D, and manufacturing are his responsibilities. Jeff Laskowski remains chief executive officer and Mark Thompson, chief financial officer. Richard Vivers explains:
"This all follows a reorganisation by the board, reflecting its desire to maximise its ability to serve worldwide markets with our novel products and become a leaner, perhaps ‘meaner’ and more competitive supplier to wood processing.
"Our two strong manufacturing centres on either side of the world have been presented with a rare opportunity to rationalise their functions even more.
"We recognise the macro-economic cycle in which we operate. It is not over optimistic to expect its curve to improve!
"However, there is a new reality in world commerce where the high sales levels of 2007-8 are now viewed as unreal…dizzy, perhaps!
"We now compare our growth to our 2006 sales levels and we are doing well – and know we’ll be doing even better", concludes Richard Vivers.
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