Bulkan’s Shingle Manufacturing- Taking Value adding to Another Level

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As Government continues to encourage companies to create more jobs by establishing more processing facilities,
at least one entity is heeding the call in a big way.
Bulkan Timber Works at Yarrowkabra, Soesdyke/Linden Highway, has been involved in wood processing for so long that it has mastered the art of wasting nothing.
From kiln drying, molding, doors and pre­ fabricated wooden homes, the facilities at the former glass factory compound is an interesting model of what can happen in Guyana.
Directors George Bulkan and Justin Bulkan are cousins and the second generation in a family that has honed their skills in the wood business for a number of decades.
The business, which has a sister company involved in making shingle roofing from Wallaba wood, has been buying wood from small loggers for years now. The wood arrives at theYarrowkabra location on trucks that belong to private operators. Because of its beauty in construction finishes, wooden shingles, ideal for walls and roof’S, have been growing in demand in especially Europe and Asia.
The regional market has also been growing for Bulkan’s kiln-dried lumber.
The company has invested in several drying facilities called kilns. These ovens are being powered by wood waste which is fed into a boiler. Literally, nothing is thrown away in the factory.
During a recent tour of the factory, the Bulkans made it clear that it is a fact that the majority of Guyanese are purchasing woods that have not been processed or dried properly. It was explained that the majority of wood being sold at lumber yards and sawmills are raw and not treated for termites or dried to ensure that movements after installation are limited. Of course, they agreed, there is need for more consumers to be aware or educated about the importance of using lumber that is
properly stored and treated.
While it costs a little more for kiln-dried woods, the long term benefits are tremendous. “So you have a wall that has been made of woods that are not treated. No homeowner wants to see a wood wall that has creases.

Instead of the wall lasting 1oyears, it should be around for at least 30 to 40 years. That is what proper processing and proper handling does to woods. It makes them la5tlonger,” says George Bulkan.
The company has been able to take the Wallaba wood, manipulate its moisture content by baking them in the kilns and offer them as wall-boards and flooring. It is by no means an easy task as Wallaba has long been used for power poles and are ideal in fence building. However, it has never really been used internally on walls or on floors because of a sap that is always present.
The Bulkans have found a way to extract the sap using its kilns.
The factory has also been able to introduce technology that makes what is called end­ matching lumber. This simply means all sides of a piece of wood come with the “groove and tongue” feature which allows it to be fitted together.
“What this means is that you can literally fit an entire flooring without the use of nails on top, allowing for a beautiful finish/ Justin explained. The end-match wood is becoming increasingly popular.
The company is now preparing for a major overseas wood show in which it is showcasing its shingles, Wallaba decking and wallboard.
Bulkan’s processed I umber, including its Purpleheart, has remained a big seller on the overseas market.
The Yarrowkabra factory has established a number of showrooms built with not only Guyana’s exotic woods, but with what is called the lesser used species. Everything that the Bulkans are offering, from doors to mouldings to windows, are on display.
But perhaps the biggest attraction that the factory is banking on is its pre-fab homes which have quietly been growing at a rapid pace. The wooden homes are way cooler for Guyana’s tropical climate compared to concrete homes.
Instead of ordering a 12-foot by 15-footwall, the Bulkans, because of the end-matching service, says that customers can order by the square foot.


“What you would not see is excess wood being left back because we will be supplying you with an entire wall..all pieces being fitted neatly together. This ultimately saves the
customers money too/ George explained. There were crates upon crates of the value­
added wood products stacked and ready to be packed for export.
But if that section of the factory was anything to talk about, it was a visit to the shingle-making section that would attract the most interest, as far as value-added activities are concerned.
Wood shingles for roofing has always been

“Very soon, we  will be introducing services
in which our experts will sit with customers,
and based of the measurements given, we  will be able to advise them and offer tips that will save them money.”

around, but Wallaba shingles are relatively new. The operation involved sawing the logs into pieces before a piece of equipment splits it in half. This is then moved to another section which slices the wood into shingles. This is then checked to ensure uniformity in quality before the shingles are packed into crates.
The ends travel on a long conveyor belt to the outside of the compound where scores of residents from nearby communities have been benefitting …for free. Several men using makeshift rakes separate the pieces of wood from the waste. These are then picked up by both men and women who have coal pits in the area.
Yes, the waste woods are a big business for the Yarrowkabra residents, many of them single parents. They would burn the woods into coals. Some are exported while buyers are even trekking to the area to pick up the bags.
The wood waste is also given free to chicken farms in the area.
The company is getting ready to move, in a big way, to produce doors, increase interest in the lesser used species of wood and a host of other services.
“Very soon, we will be introducing services in which our experts will sit with customers, and based of the measurements given, we will be able to advise them and offer tips that will save them money.”
Directly and indirectly, almost 500 persons depend on the Yarrowkabra operations for a living.

The Bulkan facilities and the family’s approach to ensuring consumers are protected in accessing the highest possibility service and products are in keeping with the worldwide movement by companies to meet international standards.
With almost nothing being wasted, it serves as a classic example of how companies can co­ exist with communities to the mutual benefits of all.

Article Categories:
Ecotourism · Issue 14 · Publication

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