THE RISE OF SUNG TIMBER AND PRODUCTS

Linet Kathambi, CEO, Sung Timber and Products.
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Innovative , efficient  and employing  a game changing marketing  model,  leading  timber company  penetrates the local market in an unprecedented way

By Paul Kamau

Being a developing country, Kenya offers many business  opportunities to  those with a keen eye. Selling timber is one of them.   It has become  a   booming business  due to the increased demand for timber in the furniture and construction industries. The  demand for  timber is  high  as it’s used for  roofing and making furniture among  other  needs. The key to succeeding in this business is finding a reliable source of timber at an affordable price while at the same time ensuring that   it is of  high  quality. Although there is a ready market and a high demand for timber due to the vast growth of the construction industry, the level of competition in this business is very  high. It is therefore  crucial to develop strategies that will facilitate the growth of the business  among  the entrepreneurs  who are already  engaged in it.

Standing Out: Linet Kathambi displays a stenner 36 bandsaw, one of the machines at
Sung Timber and Products.

 It is against this background that even without a lot of capital ,  but armed with vast  skills and  experience, Linet Kathambi   ( popularly known in social  media  circles as Kathy Andrews ) established   Sung Timber and  Products in 2014 in Kinoo, Kiambu County. As fate would have it, Linet’s major  breakthrough came in 2018 when the Kenyan  government imposed a ban on timber production, creating a big shortage in the local market. Whereas this move adversely affected many entrepreneurs in the timber business, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Linet. As most of her colleagues waited for the ban to be lifted, Linet explored other markets in Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. It was apparent to her that the ban would take long. “We decided to start importing timber from other countries in order to meet the high demand in the market as the local saw millers were still waiting for the ban to be lifted,” she affirms.

 Fast forward to 2023 and the company has made major inroads  in the local timber business. Boasting of over three branches and supplying timber countrywide, Sung Timber and Products has stood the test of time and built a reputable brand that is trusted by  all  its clients. This is attributed to the fact that the company  stocks  major   timber species.  It  is   therefore   a one stop shop for both  indigenous  and  exotic    timber products.

Variety: We are a one stop shop for timber and related products.

Variety

Some of the most common timber  ( and related products)   that are  available at Sung Timber and  Products   include: cypress, mahogany, pine, podo, blue gum and mvule. Cypress  is the most popular product  because  most clients   prefer  it   for roofing  given   its  high quality. “Apart from roofing , cypress is   also very good for some finished products like door frames, quarter rounds  as well as  tongue and  groove ( T&G),”    affirms Linet. T&G flooring is a well-known flooring type. It provides a clean looking and modern feel to a house. Cypress wood is inherently water-resistant, decay-resistant and long-lasting.  Given  these characteristics, cypress  is a premium choice for usage in houses and heavy construction, and hence more expensive. However, Linet affirms that the prices are competitive in the market and therefore clients should not shy away from  placing  orders.

 Another species that is  available at Sung  Timber and  Products   is pine wood.  In order  to  enhance  its  shelf  life,  this species  should  not   be exposed to rain water . Linet advises that pine can be used for roofing as well as blundering. “It works perfectly on those areas   and its  length is  also  good,”  she  avers. Pine is a bit soft, making it easy to work with. Whether you are using hand tools or power tools, pine is easy to cut, nail or carve. It holds stains and other finishes easily.  Moreover, it   is  strong and durable, especially when used indoors. Pine tends to muffle or insulate sound better than most timbers. If you want timber that absorbs noise and makes it   softer, then it  is a perfect choice  for  you.

 Sung Timber and  Products   also stocks   blue gum. This  is  a   hard wood which is also commonly used in roofing. Blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus)  is  also known as Tasmanian blue. It is   an evergreen tree that grows to about 100-180 feet tall, 3-5 feet trunk diameter. Most people prefer using blue gum since it is readily available in the market  and much cheaper compared to mahogany. However,  one  has  to get the right species. Blue gum also works perfectly for low cost housing. For instance,  if you  require  size   4 by 2  Cyprus wood  and you are unable to get it, you can  use 3 by 2  blue gum,  which will also serve the same purpose and it is available   at a cheaper rate. “At  Sung  Timber and  Products, we insist on correct storage and   hence  we store blue gum as beams to avoid cracking, bending or warping,” says Linet.

Keeping the promise: Press doors being loaded ready for delivery.

Known for its straight grain and characteristic red brown colour, Mahogany wood polishes and oils very well and can be buffed to a very high shine. An exceptionally durable hardwood, it is the ideal choice for furniture and fittings around the home. Mahogany does very well with finished products like door frames, solid doors, T & G  (for both floors and ceilings)  and quarter rounds. In the same breath, Mvule yields a strong and durable hardwood timber that is   resistant to termites. It  is   used for construction, furniture, joinery, paneling and floors.  It is  mainly bought   by the high end clientele since it’s quite expensive. However,  one can also use Podo for finishes . Podo is a standard building timber. It   is extensively used for floors and roofing though not suitable for external joinery and doorframes.  It  is  a  light wood of high quality  widely used for furniture, paneling, shelving, drawer linings and shop counters.

Fencing posts are also  available  at Sung Timber and  Products. Currently, the company is the biggest supplier of fencing posts in the country. Posts are the backbone of any fencing job.  They   can also be used for wall cladding. The standard sizes are seven , eight and nine feet. “At Sung Timber and  Products, most of our posts are pressure treated.  This  is a preservative process that enhances the timber’s protection,” Linet says. The process includes placing the timber in a vacuum chamber, which removes all the air from  its  cells. Once this has been completed, the vacuum will force chemical preservatives deep into the wood. Pressure treated fencing posts can last up to fifteen years.

 Sung  Timber  and  Products  has heavily invested in machinery in order to enhance efficiency. For instance,  if you want  to place an order  for   doors, all you need to do so   is  to  send the measurements to  the  company.   Your  order   will then   be promptly processed and delivered at your convenience.

Efficiency: Delivering special orders from customers countrywide.

Standing Out

One of the major  things that  the leading   company   has managed to do is installing state  of  the art   machines. “The reason why we did that is to simplify our work and in the process , ensure    that we are doing massive production .”  Sung  Timber  and  Products   has  a big    capacity of producing more products other than just selling timber. The company has invested in a splitting machine which is very powerful when it comes to splitting blocks. They have also invested in a stenner 36 bandsaw straining machine which is one of the most powerful machines .  It  is  used where you want to avoid a lot of wastage. At the same time, they have also invested in a six cutter machine that is used in products such as fisher boards, T & G (Both V-shape and center groove) and gives a very smooth and fine finishing. Additionally, Sung Timber and Products has also invested in a four cutter machine which is perfect for products such as door frames for both cypress and mahogany.  

New stock alert: Place an order of any quantity with Sung Timber and Products.

The company   is also renowned   for very high quality doors. This is after Linet realized that there was a huge gap in the  market  in  respect to  quality doors. She therefore decided  to venture into mass production of doors.  In that respect, she has invested in a hot press machine that is used to press doors into the final product. The company has over one hundred designs that you can choose from depending on your needs –  for  instance   panel doors and solid flash doors. “  If you have special orders, Sung  Timber and Products will customize them to suit your needs,” says Linet. 

 One attribute  that has  made   Sung Timber and  Products   outstanding in the market is  their efficiency which is attributed to  investment in state of  the art   machinery.  Once you place an order, payment is upon delivery and confirmation that the products you ordered for are indeed the same as the ones delivered. In addition, they also deliver countrywide and offer free transport. In a business  that is  characterized   by  cut  throat   competition,  Sung Timber and Products stands out as the go to hardware for all your building materials owing to the heavy investments in terms of machinery, efficiency in delivery,  an innovative  marketing  model  that is  mainly driven through the social media  as well as  a very fulfilling  customer experience . Indeed, Linet Kathambi is slowly changing the narrative in the construction industry by meeting  the  needs of  her  discerning    clients   all under one roof.

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