A rocky ride
Dolphin Bay continued on its growth trajectory this year, gaining several new customers and increasing our sales volumes.
We attribute this growth to diversifying into different markets and our unquestionable honesty with our customers. When we make promises, we ensure that we keep them. Our customers understand that we are committed to building relationships of trust over the long haul.
Nonetheless, this year brought huge challenges to our business and industry. Inflation rose dramatically across the world, sparing none of us, and many timber treatment companies came under severe cost pressure. It has been heartbreaking to see good companies and hardworking people struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
The year began with high hopes, with expected growth in demand for treated timber. As economies began to slow down, demand tapered − uncharacteristically, as volumes usually increase during this period – marking the start of a difficult trading environment for us all.
It seems that the level of uncertainty our industry faces, and the threat this poses, grows every year. Timber treaters in South Africa are well aware of the newly introduced GHS classification system, which threatens to phase out the use of chemicals, including CCA, boron, and creosote, that fall into the 1A and 1B CRM categories. Dolphin Bay has done a tremendous amount of work with the industry to provide a solid footing for the continued use of CCA, as we explained in the article linked above, and we are confident that our application to the authorities will succeed.
Whichever decision the authorities make, we continue to plan for the future. Dolphin Bay is currently the only manufacturer offering registered alternatives to CCA, which will give comfort to our team and customers should an industry shift be necessary.
“It has been heartbreaking to see good companies and hardworking people struggling to keep their businesses afloat.”
Timber treatment – a history of resilience
As the world heads to a potential recession next year, we feel encouraged by the knowledge that we have all survived hard times in recent years. We believe that our business, and those of our customers, are well positioned to weather the storm that may come. If there is anything we have learnt in recent years, especially from the pandemic, it is that our industry is resilient. Conversations with our customers have led us to realise they have similar aims and intentions, giving us hope that the industry will return to profitability soon.
Unfortunately, we have seen a disturbing trend emerging in some markets, where corruption – blatant and shameless – is starting to increase. This has resulted in Dolphin Bay electing to stop supplying CCA to some businesses. We will continue to move against any such activities, as they fly in the face of our values and damage our entire industry.
Corrupt people can only succeed when others comply. We are proud of our customers who are holding their ground and refusing such complicity.
The past few years have taught us that change is inevitable and continuous in every business cycle. Next year will be a big one for us. We look forward to it with excitement, harbouring no illusions that it will be easy. Nevertheless, we are up for the challenge.
Dolphin Bay is modernising our Sabie factory, which will be fully automated in March next year. This will be the fulfilment of our aim to have world-class manufacturing facilities at both our factories, the best of their kind on the continent − and dare we say, the world − and to give our team a clean and safe working environment. We know that this will be a net positive for our business overall.
We look forward to translating the skills we have learnt, through automating our processes to the industry in 2023 and have already started doing so.
“I would like to thank each one of our customers for the continued support and trust they have placed in us. We will continue to work to earn this trust and be of service.”
We are grateful for the positivity of our team in navigating the challenging trading environment this year. It seems that the harder you press them, the clearer and more resolute they become. They are truly our diamonds. We sincerely value their contribution.
I am very pleased that our focus has not changed over the years; rather, it has become more entrenched in our business culture. Our aim is to add value, and for each one of our team members to know they have the power to make a difference.
This is something we live by.
Our sincere thanks to each one of our customers. We will continue to work to earn and keep your trust.