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Articles & Stories

Zimbabwean sawmiller shows way to sawmilling success.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Zimbabwean sawmiller shows way to sawmilling success.

When Richard Saziya started his sawmilling business in 2001, he never imagined where this road would lead him.

His introduction to Wood-Mizer happened when his employer, Cembee Furniture asked him to find sawmilling equipment that could cut sawn timber for the factory to save money and that wasted less timber than circular swing-blade type sawmills.

He found a used Wood-Mizer sawmill in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands and when Cembee bought it, the Wood-Mizer reliably produced accurately sawn timber with very low wastage for the factory.

Richard’s success with the Cembee sawmill project was enough reason for him to leave the company and think about his own sawmilling business.

Panpri and Tsanga Timbers

He bought a used Wood-Mizer LT40 portable petrol sawmill that could move around to where the trees were. This advantage made the money flow in and Richard could start PanPri Timbers in 2001.

He added three more Wood-Mizer LT15 Petrol sawmills to the LT40 to produce more sawn timber and grow sales.

Richard Saziya receiving one of his Wood-Mizer LT15’s from Dean Goldstone, a representative from Wood-Mizer’s Authorised Dealer in Zimbabwe, Cutting Edge.


A contract with Zimbabwe’s Forest Commission also allowed PanPri to cut trees that were not native to the protected areas.

With the growth in timber sales, a new timber depot in Harare, and more timber supply contracts in Bulawayo as well as Gweru and Maronberg adding more profits, Richard Sayiza now wanted to grow his business further.

He knew he could use the good quality B-grade timber that was left over from the A-grade logs at Panpri better. This was the answer for more growth!

Richard started Tsanga Timbers in 2010 to use B-grade offcuts and logs to produce pallets, skirting and ceiling boards and doors for the local building and construction market.

Nyanga-based Tsanga Timber recently also opened a new depot in Harare to grow the fast-growing business group’s profits further.

The sawmill fits easily onto a trailer or pickup to transport to where it is needed.


The company also runs a network of qualified carpenters in Mutare, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Harare to assist with the fitment of products bought through them.

Growing trees and using timber wisely

Richard gives his business partner and co-director of Tsanga Timber, John Saunders, the credit for using timber better.

“John really opened my eyes to the potential money that value-added timber has,” Richard says.

“Logs only provide a small part of the value. Only once you cut the timber and produce products from it, do you unlock the real value of timber,” he continues.

As part of the drive to use timber sustainably, Richard and John also use a unique way to grow their own timber.

“Our own timber costs us less, it bypasses the difficulties of Zimbabwe’s land battles and ensures a stable timber supply and that will add a sustainable basis for our timber business, Richard says.

The PanPri and Tsanga Timber team supply landowners with seeds and seedlings that are grown on private properties. Once the trees are mature, the company gets first option to buy the logs.

This methods bypass Zimbabwe’s land battles and give endless access to ready land for planting.

Sawmilling with Wood-Mizer

When Richard first started his business, he had one team that moved around to find trees to cut.

One of Richard’s teams cutting infield.


The three-man team used one sawmill and chainsaw operator to cut and mill the timber and one tractor driver to drag the logs to the Wood-Mizer mills.

Since then, Panpri’s team has expanded to 30 employees and three tractors.

Tsanga Timbers’ team has also expanded and now consist of 35 workers and three that are for timber milling and road construction and repairs. Communities now have a reliable partner to ensure safe and good quality roads that have contributed to improved lives for the everyone.

Tsanga Timbers’ factory employs a further 12 workers for a total workforce of close to 80 workers with Richard’s businesses in total slashing unemployment in Zimbabwe.

Richard recommends using a blocking method to produce timber for the Wood-Mizer sawmills.

Cutting high up in the Nyanga mountains in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands.


“Don’t try and transport logs but rather work in-field and cut blocks that are easier and cheaper to transport,” Richard says.

“I also use petrol Wood-Mizer sawmills because they can move to where the trees are. The thin kerf blades that Wood-Mizer sawmills use also waste less, which all save costs and give more profits,” Richards continues.

Challenges, changed lives and the future

Learning to steer around the challenges that sawmillers face in Zimbabwe face, has also ensured Richard’s success.

Zimbabwe’s land battles, the access to and the pricing of timber owned by large timber companies in the country, the influx of sawmilling companies from China and the lack of foreign currency are just some of them.

Despite these issues, Richard’s business has flourished, the successes from it allowing him to build schools, start farming enterprises, build roads, uplift communities, reforest land and ensure education abroad for his children.

Rebuilding roads with timber milled on a Wood-Mizer.


About the future, Richard prays for Zimbabwe. “We face many challenges and my wish is that we as Zimbabweans build a future that everyone can be proud of,” Richard says.

“We’re also ploughing more funds into the private school to improve the facilities and accommodate more than the 200 children that already attend the school,” Richard fondly adds.

“We’re also very proud of our relationship with the Zimbabwean National Parks with a recent purchase of more chainsaws allowing the company to clear out invasive species to make way for timber that will be planted,” Richard says.

A Wood-Mizer perspective

Wood-Mizer’s sawmilling equipment allow sawmillers to remain competitive in a fast-changing timber processing landscape.

In Zimbabwe timber is becoming scarcer and competition for the resource is increasing. To start a timber processing business is also expensive.

Wood-Mizer’s portable sawmilling equipment makes it easy for sawmillers in the country to stay ahead of the competition by cutting close to the resource, reduce costs and make a bigger profit.

Richard with cap in hand with his team.


The use of thin-kerf narrow bandsaw technology also wastes less with more timber available to sell.

Wood-Mizer’s affordably priced sawmills also reduce the entry costs associated with starting a sawmill. Freely available sawn timber makes manufacturing easy and creates downstream jobs.

Sawmillers, their families and the community benefit as a result.

Wood-Mizer – From Forest to Final Form.

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