By Jacob Mooney
Not far from the famous Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Mr Ranasinghe’s sawmill buzzes with constant activity. He runs eight Wood-Mizer sawmills, including the new HR700 industrial multi-head resaw. But years ago, he started small with just one small LT15 sawmill.
“My father started this business in 1987 when I was 13,” Mr Ranasinghe says. “Our first Wood-Mizer sawmill was an LT15. Then in 2009 we purchased our first LT70 sawmill. We mostly cut Pine and Sabbukku wood into 2 x 4 rafters to build roofs. We cut and supply to the whole Sri Lankan market.”
Mr Ranasinghe’s current equipment list is impressive: Three LT70 sawmills, one HR700 multi-head resaw, one SVS Single Vertical Saw, one HR115 horizontal resaw, two LT15s, plus blade sharpeners and tooth setters for maintaining his blades. When asked why he chose Wood-Mizer’s thin-kerf technology, and how that decision has paid off for him, he eagerly replies, “The reason to buy Wood-Mizer sawmills in Sri Lanka is that they save wood and give me more profit. If you compare them with circular saws, Wood-Mizer saves a lot of wood!”
Mr Ranasinghe’s sawmill in Kandy, Sri Lanka, boasts Three LT70 sawmills, one HR700 multi-head resaw, one SVS Single Vertical Saw, one HR115 horizontal resaw, two LT15s, plus blade sharpeners and tooth setters for maintaining his blades.
“He is one of our favourite customers,” shares Upul Ekanayak, Wood-Mizer’s representative in Sri Lanka. “He started with a small circular saw machine with his father. Then later on, he saw our advertisement. He came to us and asked for a [Wood-Mizer] machine. So we supplied one machine to him – an LT15. He was using that one for nearly nine months, and he bought another one. And now he has eight machines in his sawmill.”
“If you have sawn wood you can sell any amount,” Mr Ranasinghe shares in regard to the current market conditions. Sri Lankan sawmillers are busy with orders, and their forests are well stocked with quality trees, but unlike many Asian countries, they are not exporting their timber. The timber is mostly for local use.
“In Sri Lanka, customers are still redeveloping their country after the war with the Tamil Tigers,” says James Wong, regional manager for Wood-Mizer Asia. “Therefore, most sawmills are producing timber for the domestic market.”
Temple of the Tooth, Kandy
“When you use Wood-Mizer sawmills, they save wood from being wasted, which is an advantage of these machines,” Mr. Ranasinghe insists. “They reduce how much sawdust is generated, which is just waste. If you invest in an LT70 sawmill, you can recover the investment amount within one and a half to two years.”