South Australian forest industry’s commitment to innovation.
Stephen Telford, Roundwood Solutions
Investment in wood processing is producing safer wood posts.
A low toxicity treated pine fence post that withstands bushfires is the latest example of the South Australian forest industry’s commitment to innovation.
The ‘Tana post®’ is the result of a $7 million investment by Mt Gambier based Roundwood Solutions.
Founder Stephen Telford describes his business as “a mum and dad company that started from humble roots more than 30 years ago.”
The company has now grown to become the biggest supplier in Australia of treated and untreated pine products, including timber posts used in agriculture, employing more than 100 full and part-time staff.
It was a strategic business decision that led to the development of Roundwood Solutions’ innovative new treated fence post, Tana post®.
Value adding leads to innovation
“Roundwood was always a first stage processor - we bought our timber from commercially grown pine forests, then we processed, graded and bundled, and on-sold to treatment plants,” explains Stephen.
“The market didn’t know who we were, because we sold our wood to treaters.
“To sustain our business in the long term we decided to value-add our timber by putting in our own treatment plant.”
However Roundwood Solutions decided to create a new point of difference in the market by partnering with a chemical company that had developed a new low toxicity treatment.
“They had done the R&D and tested it for some time, but needed someone to commercialise and market it,” Stephen said.
Recognising the impact the innovation would have on the post industry, Roundwood Solutions developed a $7 million treatment facility at the Tantanoola Enterprise Park, utilising state-of-the-art technology to produce the Tana post®.
Safer for people and the environment
“A lot of alternative post treatment products are deemed toxic, and they’re expensive to dispose of, so they end up piling up in communities around Australia, and become a problem for regulatory authorities” explains Stephen.
“But the chemical we use is far less toxic, and won’t leach into the soil, or bleed into a crop.
“It’s a treated post that is safer for people and the environment.”
The treatment facility is the first of its kind in the world, with the ability to convert residue - which is part of the process of making the post - into biochar, which is used as a soil amendment for farmers.
Roundwood Solutions is also the only company that can provide a ‘cradle to the grave’ scenario for their post product.
Once a Tana post® reaches the end of its life, the company will take the product back and burn it, using the energy generated to drive the boiler for steam that dries the timber in the first place, and create the biochar product.
Roundwood Solutions has now developed a further value add by adding a fire retardant to the treatment.
“If there happens to be a bushfire in a vineyard or farming property, once it has passed the post will not continue to burn and the fence will still be in place,” said Stephen.
“Given the last devastating bushfire season it’s another good reason to choose the Tanapost.”