Clifton Pine is one of South Africa’s very few self-sufficient timber treatment companies, offering the full value chain from its farm in Lothair, southern Mpumalanga.
At one end of that chain is the 600-hectare pine plantation, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Paul and Suzanne Bothma; at the other is a sawmill, value-add machine shop and – now, with some help from Dolphin Bay – a CCA treatment plant.
“I’m a forester, and we’ve had timber here since the 1960s,” said Paul, whose history with the farm goes back through the generations − he was born on the farm. “In 1996 I established a bush mill and expanded the operations from there.”
After a brief pause when demand dropped due to the 2008 global economic crisis, Paul started to rebuild Clifton Pine in 2014. In 2021 he established a timber sales warehouse in Stillbaai in the southern Cape, run by his son Charl.
“I am a forester, so I like to do things a certain way,” said Paul. “My focus is not only on construction, but also on gardens and fencing and so on – and I know that everything should be treated. In 2021 I started looking into establishing a treatment plant. That was the last piece of the puzzle.”
The treatment plant also reflects the kind of person Paul is, and the kind of business he runs at Clifton Pine. “I’m proud of my products,” he said. “Whatever I sell has my name is on it. If you buy timber from me, it’s not the SATAS certification that is important; it’s from me, with my name on it. There’s no hiding away.”
The treatment plant was supplied and installed by Specpipe, after Paul had been treating the wood through a third party. He wanted to capture more value by treating it himself, so he approached a couple of treatment companies for assistance but had little joy. “Clifton Pine is self-sufficient but small,” he said. “Some companies aren’t really interested in helping small, private businesses.”
“I’m proud of my products. Whatever I sell has my name on it. There’s no hiding away” – Paul Bothma
When he mentioned his frustrations to Specpipe, they pointed him towards Dolphin Bay. “I’ve never looked back,” he said. “I wanted a partner to help get the plant up and running, provide chemicals, and so on. Darren came in, took a look, designed it, we built it, and six or seven months later we were done.”
Dolphin Bay supported Clifton Pine with guidance for environmental compliance, and then with commissioning and training to get the new plant started up.
Darren describes Clifton Pine as one of his favourite customers, due to the kind of people they are and the values they live by. “They’re very hands-on,” he said. “They even treat the timber themselves. They are salt of the earth: trustworthy, authentic and honourable people. It’s an utter pleasure, and very rewarding, to work with them.”
As for Paul, he’s happy with the treatment plant – and very happy with Dolphin Bay. “They said they were going to do it right, and they came in, presented all the facts, and did it,” he said. “Dolphin Bay is a brilliant company.”