A VISIT to the Newark showroom and demonstration area of International Woodworking Machinery (IWM) by local MP Robert Jenrick could open up new markets for the company, according to managing director Ian Brown.
The company sells machines used by manufacturers of wooden windows, doors and even panels to build houses, but Mr Brown was particularly keen to get Mr Jenrick’s reaction to a machine that turns waste wood shavings and sawdust into briquettes that supply a clean, renewable fuel:
“The government’s Clean Air Strategy means that owners of wood-burning stoves can’t use wood with a moisture content of more than 20%, because burning wet wood increases the polluting emissions,” said Mr Brown. “We import machines that convert wood waste into renewable energy, producing briquettes that are dry and give out three times more heat than coal.
“A lot of our clients have a wood waste problem because it costs them money to send the waste to landfill. With these machines, they can use the fuel to heat their factory or they can sell the fuel to customers with wood-working stoves, turning a cost into a revenue stream. We’re all trying to save the planet, and this process converts waste into renewable energy.” Business is on the up and up at the moment but Mr Brown, who lives in Farndon, hoped that the MP would be able to help the company form a strategy that could open up new markets.
The visit has had an immediate impact: “He was very enthusiastic and very impressed. He said he would help us to get in touch with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, because they make furniture in prisons, and he would help us talk to Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to see if we can get some of the briquettes made in these machines tested for emissions, so we will see what develops.” Mr Brown said the visit revealed an unexpected link with Mr Jenrick’s family background: “His family is in woodworking – I think they make fire surrounds, so we had a common denominator there.”
After the visit Mr Jenrick commented: “It was a pleasure to meet the owners and staff of IWM and to see in action machines which turn off-products from the joinery and farming sectors, MP finds out more about top companyjust to name a couple, into briquettes.
“With the increased awareness of air quality, these machines allow businesses, farmers and members of the public to recycle waste otherwise destined for landfill, turning it into carbon neutral fuel. It’s great to see another Newark business prospering.” IWM, which also has branches in Bicester and Leeds, was founded by Mr Brown 10 years ago. Originally from the North East, he settled in Farndon after working in Singapore and subsequently working for an Italian company and a German company before he returned to the UK and set up his own company. The business now employs around 20 people and is growing: “We’ve sold nearly 300 of these machines in the UK already and we are getting more enquiries every day. Brexit has not affected us – our customers are in the UK, and the house building industry is busy, so that’s good news for us.”
The briquette machines cost from £6,000 to £15,000. The company also sells more conventional woodworking machinery including band saws and lathes, but the briquette machines are generating much interest: “We’ve even been approached by a large manufacturer of toilet rolls, because making toilet rolls produces a dust that goes to landfill. They wanted us to see if we could use the dust to make briquettes, and the test was successful.”