It has been a successful and satisfying year. The timber treatment industry has continued with the rebound that began last year, and we are pleased to see that, overall, our customers have increased their production levels.
This was made possible by the consistent uptick in demand for CCA-treated timber in South Africa and many other African countries. Fortunately, the outlook for further growth looks good.
Dolphin Bay, too, has done well, expanding our customer base, and our business has gone through enormous changes this year.
We have completed several interesting new projects including the breakdown, rebuilding, and automation of our Mossel Bay factory. Excitingly, this included introducing the robots Oliver and Lydia to our factory floor. Oliver deals with the heavy lifting of materials and was installed in the first few months of this year. More recently, his wife Lydia arrived to operate the packing line. Their relationship seems made in heaven: together, they run our factory floor with pleasing speed and precision, substantially increasing our manufacturing capacity.
We now have an extremely neat and modern plant that exceeds safety standards even further than previously, and we can also be extremely confident of our product quality.
We are proud to present, below, a short film telling the story of the unique relationship between Dolphin Bay and our customers, also featuring our Mossel Bay plant. It has been a pleasure to work on these projects with outstanding service providers, who have become members of our extended team, and to share with them the enjoyment of a job well done.
A happy consequence of these projects is that our challenges have become more sophisticated and interesting: ones that we have been able to sink our teeth into. For example, instead of needing mechanics to come in to manipulate machinery, we have had programmers working on streamlining algorithms, and have learnt a lot ourselves in the process.
The rebuilding of our Mossel Bay manufacturing plant, and the installation of automated equipment, took most of the year. It came with many headaches: substantial troubleshooting and the need for our team to learn new systems, all while continuing our CCA production unabated. We managed the changes and overcame the technical problems, although some aspects took enormous determination.
Hats off to our team for their willingness to learn and upskill themselves!
Dolphin Bay has also worked with our customers on exciting new engineering and technical projects, including the remodelling, moving and recommissioning of a Merensky treatment plant, and has helped many other customers to upgrade their timber-treatment operations.
We now realise that hard times, and difficulties in doing business, are a constant. Things haven’t got easier – rather, the challenges have increased exponentially – yet so has our ability to address them. We are tackling obstacles together with our customers, while doing an enormous amount of work below the surface to smooth the waters for them. This has been possible thanks to the commitment of our team; none of it would have been possible without each person’s contribution.
The past year has confirmed that we were correct to take a positive stance and seek opportunity among the difficulties. At this stage, we have been through so many cycles that we have greater insight and are able to recognise the inevitable patterns of challenge, opportunity, and growth, continually repositioning our business in a better way.
Our robots Oliver and Lydia run our factory floor with pleasing speed and precision, substantially increasing our manufacturing capacity.
In humility, we acknowledge that many people and businesses are still having a very hard time. Our team continues to reflect on how we can best contribute to positivity and hope, in all the circles where we live and work. As human beings, we tend to believe that if we can simply control the next disaster on the horizon, we will experience utopia. Growing older, we at Dolphin Bay realise this is the wrong perspective. It simply makes us feel that we are facing a little monster who, the more we cope, keeps on shovelling more challenges at us.
Like other older people, we have seen that we can never control or vanquish circumstance; instead, we must accept and work with it. Living and doing business is less a battle and more akin to sailing; knowing how to read the wind, and which sails to use.
The important thing is whether we have become better people and stronger as a company, given the changes. I am confident that we have.
The future is uncertain; this is the one certainty we have. Often, we simply do not know the answers. We remember the poignant extract from the poem East Coker, by T.S. Eliot:
“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.”
What might we know next year that we do not know now? Radical changes are certain to take place. It is very important to us that we do not become hardened; rather, that we realise all is temporary, and that material success is not what builds our characters or inspires people.
The principles of our business – honesty, integrity, giving the best service and never taking anything for granted – must not be compromised.