For the past three years, the South African company, Matriarch Equipment, has developed a reputation as a leader in the design and manufacture of timber handling grapples in the industry.
The company was established by brothers Justin and Ashley Bell during 2009, when a gap was identified in the market place for high quality, locally produced niche handling equipment for both the sugar cane and timber industries.
The brothers set out with a vision of developing loading and extraction machinery, but decided that timber grapples were a good product on which to 'cut their teeth' in the manufacturing game. "We started from scratch and needed to establish certain systems and processes within the business in order to lay the foundation for the development, manufacture and support of our products going forward," says Ashley.
The initial plan was only to develop two sizes; a 0.35m2 and 0.41m2, as these are commonly used in the timber industry on tri-wheel loggers and trailer- or truckmounted cranes.
The MT360 and MT420 grapples were accepted extremely well by the market and soon after the launch of these first two entry models in February 2010, requests for larger capacity grapples came pouring in from the market. "Grapples are high wearing components within a timber harvesting operation and should be viewed as such," says Justin. "There comes a time when repairing an old grapple, versus replacing it with a new one, is not financially viable in the short to medium term."
Matriarch Equipment now produces nine different models of timber grapples, from the MT360 (0.35m2) to the much larger MT1800 (1.8m2). The company supplies grapples mostly to the Southern African market, but has, in the past, also supplied to markets abroad, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and South America. "We hope to grow our export market as we grow our business, in order to spread our risk across the different markets around the world," says Ashley.
Today, timber grapples are not the only product line on which the company focuses. Since 2010, the Matriarch team has been working on the development of complete loading tools. The brothers decided that a low risk approach to this development was to adapt and optimize a well proven excavator for loading both timber and sugar cane. This was achieved in late 2010 when Matriarch Equipment manufactured a prototype sugar cane loader, using the upper structure of a 13 ton excavator, coupled with a custom built chassis, incorporating four-wheel drive, high floatation wheels and excellent ground clearance; suited for harsh and undulating underfoot conditions.To date the company has manufactured five of these units, a mix of timber and sugar cane loading machines.
Research and development plays a major role in day-today operations at Matriarch Equipment. "Without R&D we're at risk of falling behind the curve, and the company stagnating, so a great deal of emphasis is placed on this area of the business," says Justin. The Bell brothers view innovation as key to the survival of the business in the long term. "We're working on some very exciting projects currently," says Ashley.
In addition to the development and manufacture of products, Matriarch Equipment is also an importer and distributor of Indexator Rotators from Sweden. Various heavy duty rotator models are offered by the company at competitive pricing. Matriarch also holds a comprehensive stock of Indexator spare parts to ensure adequate support of the product in field. "Indexator is viewed as the industry leader in rotator systems globally and we can think of no better strategic partner to compliment our grapple offering," says Ashley.
More information on Matriarch Equipment can be viewed on the website: www.matriarchequipment.com.