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Peterson Portable Sawmills

Peterson create their own Portable Sawmill Demonstration Days


Junior Peterson Sanding a Slab
The Junior Peterson Sawmill sanding a slab with its optional Sanding Kit

In the more than 30 years that Peterson Portable Sawmills has been making and exporting portable sawmills worldwide, we’ve never experienced a year like 2020. As with many other businesses, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been tough to overcome. While New Zealand was in a strict lockdown (from the end of March until mid May) we were unable to manufacture new sawmills, or train existing customers, two vital components of our operation.

Although New Zealand managed to eradicate the Corona virus within its borders for over 100 days, various large trade and farm shows were pre-emptively cancelled. Because we know that the best way to learn about our sawmills is in person, we decided to open our Rotorua headquarters to the public and invite people to live demonstrations of the different mills and slabbers, and to enable them to get to know the Peterson team.

Demonstrations included cutting weatherboards/cladding on the Junior Peterson, one-person milling on the All Terrain Sawmill and the Automated Swingblade Mill, slabbing with a Peterson, using the electric winch on the Winch Production Frame, double-cutting and blade sharpening.

farm shows 2020

Peterson Sales Consultant Greg Sheehan was on-site during the demonstration days, educating visitors on the design features of the Peterson range. “I was pleased to meet new people that had been invited to come along to our Factory Demo Days”, said Greg. “A very cool aspect was how some of our existing sawmill owners mingled with these visitors, speaking to them and passing on their Peterson experiences.”

saw mill demonstrations

With five sawmills and slabbers set up in Peterson’s yard, the company welcomed dozens of visitors over two consecutive days. While visitor numbers were low compared to normal tradeshows, Greg said the interest of visitors was very high and resulted in six new sawmills being sold in just a few hours.

The most popular model of the day was the Junior Peterson sawmill, being operated here by our CEO, Kerris. With its ability to cut up to 6″ x 6″ or 12″ x 4″ (double cut), it ticked all the boxes for many of our visitors. The optional clip-on slabber, planer blade and sanding disc make for the perfect portable milling package.

Peterson Sales Manager Aaron Kalan was very pleased with the result of the demonstration days. “After the lockdown, while we had COVID-19 at bay, we were finally able to meet in person with people again. It was great to catch up with quite a few existing mill owners as well, and introducing them to our new inquiries led to a lot of sharing of good ideas.”

For our global audience we organised a Digital Sawmill Demonstration Day where we showcased each of the models over five hours. While the opening of the digital demonstration was affected by technical difficulties, Marketing Manager Layla Robinson was happy with the end result and is already planning the next one.

Watch our sawmill specialist Chris Browne as he cuts two slabs from the same log in a time trial, using two different mills

“We used Facebook’s live streaming service to demonstrate our range of sawmills in operation, as well as several swingblade tips and tricks. Sawmill Specialist Chris Browne was our demonstrator and has a great way of explaining the products to a varied audience. Chris has been with the company for 30 years so knows how to get the best out of our mills, and the logs!”

Because these demonstration days proved to be such a success, we’ll be repeating them in November this year, with an exclusive focus on the WPF and the JP. If you can’t wait until then, there are many Peterson owners all around the world who are keen to demonstrate their mill to interested parties.

If you’re researching a sawmill purchase, the best people to speak to are those who operate the machines on a regular basis. The millers in our ‘Owner’s Network’ have made themselves available to you to ask questions by phone or email, and some of them even offer private demos and open days at their milling sites.

portable mill trade show

Todd Tokar from Arkansas used this service to get in touch with Peterson owner Russell Wilkins. Here’s his feedback: “I just wanted to let you know what a good job Russell is doing representing Peterson. I e-mailed him with some questions about Peterson mills on Sunday and this Monday evening he called me to answer my questions. We talked for about an hour, and I had all my questions throughly answered. I did not expect to receive this kind of personal service, so needless to say I was very pleased. This is the kind of help that keeps customers happy and coming back for more business.”

You can watch all videos shot on the day on our Facebook page.

In the 30 years Rotorua sawmill manufacturers Peterson Portable Sawmills have been exporting their products worldwide, they’ve never experienced a year like this one. As with many businesses, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 Coronavirus have been tough to overcome. Being a manufacturing business, Peterson were unable to build new sawmills, or train existing customers, two vital components of their operation. The company were also affected by the cancellation of the largest agricultural show in the country, Fieldays. Having exhibited at Fieldays in 2019, Peterson were looking forward to another successful event. Last year they made a record number of New Zealand sales, largely thanks to their presence at the show. While the New Zealand National Fieldays Society created a ‘back-up plan’, Fieldays Online, Petersons know that the best way to learn about their products, is in person. In response, this week Petersons opened their headquarters on Hyland Street and are inviting members of the public to view live demonstrations of their products. With five sawmills and slabbers set up in Peterson’s yard, the company welcomed over 50 visitors on their first day from as far as Oamaru. While this number is substantially low compared to Fieldays’ attendee numbers, the interest of visitors was very high and resulted in six new sawmills sold in just a few hours. Visitors were particularly impressed with the speed and ease-of-use of Peterson’s range which cut logs into valuable timber, beams and even slabs. The most popular model of the day was the Junior Peterson sawmill, which can also be fit with a planer blade and sanding disc. Peterson’s demonstrations continue on Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm.
Peterson's Dedicated Wide Slabber being operated on the same tracks as the Winch Production Frame Sawmill

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2 comments shared

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    • Maurice van Liempd says:

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