THE truly international nature of Forestry Expo Scotland 2019 was in evidence upon stepping into the hospitality tent of Finnish forest machine manufacturer Ponsse.

Three well-established South African forestry contractors explained, as they enjoyed a little refreshment, that seeing Sitka spruce being harvested was a strange but very impressive sight to them.

At home they worked in plantations, too, but harvesting eucalyptus. They never cut sawlogs and the Ponsse cut-to-length machines were proving an extremely efficient system for ensuring a steady stream of timber trucks arrived at the pulpmill.

Forestry Expo promised to be a very impressive and powerful demonstration of timber harvesting and Ponsse had no hesitation in bringing in their personnel from across the globe. Its South American partners – Uruguay is one of Ponsse’s most rapidly expanding markets – had a really long-haul journey to get to the harvesting site at Little Clyde.

Travel was easier for Clément Puybaret of Ponssé SAS, France, and Patrick Murphy of Ponsse Machines Ireland. Nevertheless, the event provided the opportunity for all those involved in the manufacture, sales and maintenance of Ponsse machines to compare notes and expand their knowledge in a productive environment.

Gary Glendinning shares the sales of Ponsse machines in Eastern Europe with Tarmo Saks. Tarmo is assigned to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. All these nations not only have a very strong forestry culture but also decades of experience of mechanised timber harvesting. Tarmo was present at Forestry Expo and admitted his are fairly mature markets and he deals with contractors and businesses who already have a good grounding in mechanised harvesting systems.

Gary’s area of operations includes Hungary, Romania and the Balkan states, where more traditional timber harvesting systems still prevail.

“My countries in Eastern Europe are really new markets for mechanised harvesting machinery,” he said. “We can start the process from the beginning, taking across the Ponsse principles and applying the Ponsse training from the outset. The first thing to emphasise is the company’s focus on the customer. For example, we have recently delivered a couple of harvesters to Serbia.”

It was a direct move from chainsaw felling for the forwarder to fully mechanised harvesting, Gary explained, and Ponsse needed to ensure that a huge effort went in to support the sale during the transition period. The internet was proving to be a very useful learning tool for customers and operators in countries assigned to Gary.

Searching out the experiences of other harvester owners and operators through the web, they could ask the questions and the Ponsse team would provide the solutions.
Ponsse Ireland was set up in the Republic in January 2017 and Patrick Murphy took over as managing director in May 2019.

“We are looking to expand our premises and workforce in the near future as sales are on the rise,” said Patrick.

“The competition from other manufacturers is still very strong but we are making steady progress. Contractors who have bought the new generation of Ponsse machines are reporting back in very favourable terms – with the reliability of the units being one of the main plus points.”

Patrick added that the Scorpion King was turning out to be the company’s best seller. The enhanced visibility from the cabin was particularly welcomed by operators harvesting in the Republic’s Sitka spruce plantations. There are now over 30 Ponsse harvesting machines working in the Republic of Ireland.

Dean Robson, managing director of Ponsse UK, has been with the Finnish manufacturer for 15 years. He said: “We feel we have the edge in the cut-to-length timber harvesting market as we are a strong, family-orientated company. We have a fantastic product range to satisfy every need in the specialised sector in which we operate. Continuous research and development and state-of-the-art technological upgrades maintain our position.”

Ponsse’s sales and marketing director, Jarmo Vidgrén, was one of the team who had travelled to the south of Scotland from the company headquarters in Vieremä, Finland.

“Every day we are concentrating on how we can develop our products,” he said.

“Customer feedback researched through events such as Forestry Expo is very important for us and is always taken very seriously. Liaising with the contractors and operators has been the basis of the business for almost 50 years. As we intend to be around for at least another 50, the customer is still everything for us.”