Saving Nundle’s sawmill pays off for farmer Wayne 

WHEN Wayne Simmons decided to rescue the historic Nundle sawmill from the grasps of closure earlier this year, he was quietly confident his ambitious gamble would pay off.

And he was right.

Six months after handing the Happy Valley Rd business a lifeline, investment in the timber mill is booming.

“I’ve got some really good customers on board with me now,” Mr Simmons said.

“Baiada is slowly coming on board (for the supply of bedding) and I’ve just picked up another three farms in the general Tamworth area.”

Plans to expand into renewable fuels – using wood pulp in lieu of coal – is also looking bright.

“I’ve been approached by a power company in the region for the supply of 20,000 tonnes of bio-fuel a year, which I’ve quoted on,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with at least half of that ... and if everything goes well with the product, I’d imagine they’ll want me to take it over.”

The Tintinhull farmer said he was pleased “almost everything” he had predicted “has come to fruition”.

“It’s taken a lot of hours, but we’ve turned it from the red into the black. I definitely assessed it and knew what I was capable of and I drove it to go that way,” he said.

One of the reasons Mr Simmons said he chose to salvage the mill was because of the negative impact its closure would have on Nundle’s close-knit community.

He saved seven of the timber mill’s 14 employees when he purchased the languishing facility back in May, but since then staffing levels have skyrocketed.

“We’ve gone from seven, who were already with the place, and we are now up to 20 people,” Mr Simmons said.

“A couple that lost their jobs were reinstated, but we’ve got a lot of new blood, too.”

For now, however, the most pressing issue on his radar is investigating further capital investments, to keep up with the heady growth of the business.

“Although I did get a new wood-shaving machine (from the US), I will need to get a bigger one to cope with the demand,” he said.

“We are coping at the moment, but I can see that blowing out very quickly.”

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