Dolphin Bay and The New Forests Company (NFC) have built a relationship of trust over many years.
This relationship has been built on our adding value to the NFC business and recently led to the renewal of our supply agreement with them, which is of benefit to both companies.
NFC is entering an exciting new phase in which the first rotations of the plantations they planted many years ago are ready for harvesting, enabling them to treat their own timber rather than buy from other suppliers, and in this way to expand their operations.
“We are very happy for NFC that they have reached this major milestone,” said Bertus. “It’s not easy doing business in Africa. It requires tenacity and resilience, and the NFC team has clearly shown these qualities.”
NFC planted its first tree in Mubende, central Uganda, in 2004, with the ambition to supply the pole market across East Africa. The business now has a land bank of over 50 000 hectares, including 30 000 hectares of plantations across Uganda and Tanzania. This places them in a position to expand even further into East Africa.
“NFC has developed a culture of business consistency. They take a long-term, longer-route approach to ensure their sustainability, and these are exciting times for the business: harvesting from their own plantations will place them in a very strong position for growth,” observed Bertus.
“To us, this is one of the highest levels of relationship: a trust built over time and a partnership, not just a customer-supplier relationship.”
NFC employs over 900 people in East Africa and has demonstrated a strong track record, with revenues of tens of millions of US dollars. The company’s CEO Darren Lapp ascribes this success to a holistic approach and a strong vision.
“We have a unique focus on integrated management − on developing capacity and opportunities within both the communities and individuals that work on or near our operations,” he said.
“We have over 6 000 hectares of ‘out-grower’ farmers whom we have supported by providing seedlings, technical support, extension services, and mapping services, and we are now buying their wood products. We are creating something beyond ourselves.”
Dolphin Bay’s relationship with NFC goes back many years, and the service goes beyond just product and shipping support to include technical services and product optimisations, said Darren. “Further, we have had to weather some very challenging times in the markets and Dolphin Bay has always been willing to work with us in a constructive fashion: a true long-term partnership.”
This includes a history of ongoing, customer-specific assistance including technical advice, modifications to the NFC Uganda plant, marketing information, and lobbying the Tanzanian industry for the benefit of NFC and other local timber treaters.
“We have a great relationship with Dolphin Bay, and we see each other as partners on this journey,” said Darren. “Bertus and the team communicate proactively, are always open not only to discuss terms but also to bounce around improvement ideas, and their provision of service has always been good. When we have had an occasional delivery wobble due to shipping factors out of either party’s control, Dolphin Bay has always worked with us to develop contingency plans. Product pricing and quality control are important, but communication and trust are every bit as important in a long-term supplier.
“We’re grateful for the relationship.”
“We have assisted NFC on multiple levels and have built a level of trust that is characterised by open and honest discussions, based on a clear understanding of each other’s expectations,” said Bertus.
“We don’t always agree on everything, but we do understand and value each other’s point of view. To us, that is one of the highest levels of relationship: it’s a trust built over time and a real partnership, not just a customer/supplier relationship.”