Our Board Chairman, Don Seehusen, sold 50.000 wooden railroad sleepers (ties) to America’s largest railroad, Union Pacific Corporation in 1998. These sleepers were treated by the Union Pacific with creosote, a mix of diesel oil and coal tar. Local oak materials were used because of their cheap price. The contract was successfully completed. Previously, the company, had been in other natural resource products including log home manufacturing dating back to 1985.
In 2000 Hendrik Nollen, a Dutch citizen, with extensive knowledge of tropical hardwoods helped form Superhardwoods SA. We used high quality tropical hardwoods from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) forest in Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil which were used to supply contracts around the world. Our network of foresters, some of whom are also farmers has continued to grow. The market has also grown, especially in the United States which uses 19 million wooden sleepers each year as replacements for creosoted oak ties, which until 2017 remained economically competitive.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a market changing pronouncement in 2017 now requires that all creosote treated (carcinogenic) ties be ground up after their service life of 15 years is over, transported and burned in special furnaces. The cost of a creosoted oak sleeper has increased by at least 30% and is no longer economically competitive with tropical hardwoods, which have natural tannins that protect the wood, and are so dense they do not allow rot causing water to enter the sleepers, and therefore do not require creosote. Oak is a lesser wood and only lasts 15 years when treated. 97% of all sleepers in the US are wood.
Our advantage over startup competitors is that we have established sources, we speak Spanish and Portuguese, and we know the culture of Latin America and also in the buying markets along with all the necessary languages. Europe, Canada and Japan already outlaw creosote treated wood. We are ready to supply high quality tropical hardwoods with a service life of 50+ years, at least 3 times the service life of oak, at a cheaper price and do not require remediation at the end.
While developing the tropical hardwood markets, we found that the Chaco Region, an area that covers Paraguay, Northern Argentina, Bolivia, and the southwest corner of Brazil, is one of the few remaining under-developed “breadbasket” agricultural areas on Earth.
We have done “due diligence” in this area and have been pleasantly surprised to become acquainted and work with some very experienced and astute farming groups which produce many different crops. They have fertile farmland, abundant water, and a 365 day growing season each year.
Consorcio Agroforestal SA
In 2017 we changed the name of the company from Superhardwoods SA to Consorcio Agroforestal SA to more accurately indicate our areas of expertise. We believe that working in this structure we can guarantee the returns that we have promised. We carefully evaluate each farming opportunity, and pick only those that meet our financial requirements.
We will continue the sourcing and selling of other farm commodities that are sold on a spot price (one shipload at a time) or on multiyear contracts. They include but are not limited to sugar, rice, wheat, barley, alfalfa hay, cocoa beans, quinoa, soya, beef, chicken and goats.