The Croft family has been involved in the timber industry for almost 100 years. It was started by the present owner’s grandfather, Fred Croft, who was born in 1892 and started in the industry when he was a teenager. After spending some years working in the bush logging native trees, he and his brother-in-law, Jim Bisset, started the sawmill on the old site Northeast of Hikurangi, in Northland, New Zealand.
The operation has continued to this day.
Croft Timber Co Ltd first started producing wooden poles in 1971, when the first treatment plant was installed. Wooden poles were seasoned by using the sun to dry poles in preparation for pressure treating. As demand increased, the need for steam conditioning intensified, so the first steam plant was commissioned in 1985, followed by a new and larger treatment plant the following year, increasing the capacity to about 1400m3 per month. At the same time, a new debarker was installed.
Demand continued to grow and a second processing facility was purchased at Awanui, some 180km to the North. Over the next few years, Croft Timber became synonymous with wooden poles, supplying almost all poles used in the upper part of the North Island.
Today & the Future
In 1999, Croft Timber relocated both its sites at Hikurangi and Awanui to one larger site just North of Whangarei. The new site covers 30 acres on the main state highway and has rail facilities adjacent. The new plant has a capacity to process over 2500m3 per month.
Croft Timber Co Ltd is solely owned by Darrell Croft who also has a wholesale/retail outlet in Henderson, Auckland and supply most timber merchants in the northern areas. The outlet in Auckland has been operating for over fifteen years and it was felt to give the company a higher profile in the pole market to begin operating under the name, Croft Pole Distributors Ltd.
To further improve the product range, it was decided to purchase a Bezner rounding machine from Germany. This machine produces a perfectly parallel pole with a consistent diameter end to end and is called a LazerLog™. This has proved to be very popular for retaining walls, pony jumps, play equipment etc.
The Whangarei site continues to expand with the addition of such equipment as a small-log sawmill line, Foggarty kiln, machining division and machine stress grader. Croft Poles has the ability to produce and process large numbers of poles (up to 27.0 metres) to the highest standard from vast forestry reserves throughout Northland.
Market trends toward the use of more pinus radiata products in engineered applications, the ‘additions and alterations’ business, hardwood substitution and direct sales to offshore merchants, all signal excellent future potential for The Croft Timber Company.