Since 2001, Pasquale Felice and Pierina D’Amico have represented Wood-Mizer sawmills in Central Italy, providing the full range of sales and service for customers throughout the country from North to South. But their experience with woodworking and sawmilling goes back much earlier than that.
Pasquale’s father operated a business manufacturing windows and doors, so Pasquale grew up with the business and eventually ran the business. Pasquale was educated as a mechanical engineer and spent many years building aircraft parts for Lockheed.
Pierina was born in Italy, but raised in British Columbia, Canada. Her training was in law offices, where she became quite experienced with administration. They married in Canada and lived there for several years. Pasquale continued with his wood business, and always was on the lookout for new equipment that he could get that would expand the business.
One day, he saw an advertisement for a used mobile Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill. He liked the idea of being able to produce his own timber from raw logs, instead of buying it already cut. At first, Pierina was unsure of the idea, but Pasquale insisted that the Wood-Mizer was a good investment.
Pierina began helping Pasquale with the sawmilling on the weekends, and really enjoyed the opportunity to work outside in nature while making such beautiful products.
They took the sawmill with them when they moved back to Italy to continue their woodworking business. At that time, Wood-Mizer was still growing in Europe, and so by 2001, they became Wood-Mizer’s representatives in Italy. Their experience with the international wood industry, as well as running their own business with a Wood-Mizer sawmill made them a natural fit for the job.
Located near Campobasso in Central Italy, Wood-Mizer Italia offers full sales and service support to their customers. Pasquale travels all throughout the year, demonstrating sawmills at industry tradeshows and making service calls. They do 8-10 shows a year in order so that people can see and touch the sawmills for themselves. For wood producers interested in a sawmill, Wood-Mizer Italia can provide advice on the best products and options for realising the customer’s goals. Wood-Mizer has a growing range of sawmills, resaws, edgers and more with many options available for every budget and production expectation.
90% of Wood-Mizer owners in Italy are small to medium-sized pallet producing businesses. Many of the pallet producers also produce and sell custom wood beams and high quality timber for local woodworkers. High quality cherry and chestnut for furniture makers and woodworkers is very popular.
"I find it really rewarding when the customer calls you after their sawmill is installed and running and says, ‘Wow, this is even better than we thought!’" Pierina says.
According to Pasquale, Wood-Mizer is an excellent solution for Italian wood producers because of their good return on investment and low operating costs. Their unique design enables them to cost less, yet also be very productive and capable of producing many different products in a small business. In Italy and around the world, wood producers are able to make their businesses stronger by using Wood-Mizer equipment to develop new products and diversify the products their company offers, thereby spreading their risks.
Another significant advantage of Wood-Mizer equipment is that they are designed to require minimal power. With the high costs of electricity in Italy, the low power consumption can make a big difference in the net profits. Wood-Mizer’s thin-kerf blades are also inexpensive, easy to sharpen, and the thin cut they make results in more boards from every log and less waste. Pasquale is very excited about the new Wood-Mizer MaxFlex blade released in 2014 – a premium blade with longer flex life. He believes the blade will be quite popular in Italy, due to the good price and improved performance.
Providing technical support for their customers is very important to both Pasquale and Pierina. "I think Pasquale has every mill memorised," says Pierina. "He has every part and nut size memorised and on the phone he can walk customers through troubleshooting as if he is there with them." While in the shop or on the road, he is always available on his mobile for questions and customer service calls. They encourage their customers to call with any questions, and if for some reason the problem cannot be solved over the phone, Pasquale can do on-site service.
When Pasquale is in the office, he is kept busy with their ReSharp centre, where he personally sharpens customer blades. They use Wood-Mizer’s own professional blade sharpening and setting equipment to ensure the highest quality sharpening results.
Their passion to work for their customer’s success is demonstrated well in the story of their original sawmill that started it all. When they began to sell Wood-Mizer sawmills in Italy, eventually they decided to sell their old, manually-operated LT40 sawmill. Normally once you sell something, you do not often see it again, but not with this sawmill!
Their first customer in 2001 started with a new LT15. Later, the customer wanted to upgrade to a mobile sawmill and bought their old LT40. But after some time, the customer decided he wanted to upgrade to a fully hydraulic LT70. He sold the LT40 back to Wood-Mizer Italia and purchased the new LT70. This same story happened again - not twice, not three times, but four times! The next owner of the old sawmill exchanged it back for an LT40 hydraulic. The third customer exchanged it in order to buy an LT70 Electric. The fourth and final customer also exchanged the old mill for a new LT40 Hydraulic.
"Then when the fourth customer brought it back to us," Pierina recalls laughing, "We said ‘Stop! That is enough! We’re going to keep this sawmill, we’re not going to sell it again, just in case they don’t sell it back to us!’" Including Pasquale and the original owner he bought it from in Canada, the old LT40 has had six owners, and is still in regular use. They still lend out the sawmill to the neighbours, and use it themselves from time to time. However, they are definitely not going to sell it again!
Due to the economy slowly recovering from the crisis, they have seen an increase in orders in 2014, and are optimistic about the future. But even if orders were slower than normal during the crisis, blade sales and the ReSharp service was always quite busy, which means that their customers were staying busy with work.