An entrepreneurial farmer and son team has built a flourishing artisanal furniture and timber ware company with a Wood-Mizer LT40, ingenuity and artistic flair. Based in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, Bathurst is home to Twigg Furniture company.
The charming country village near Port Alfred on South Africa’s east coast was the early administrative centre for British Settlers in the 1820s. The Settlers’ culture remains today. Farmers in the area run successful cattle, game, and sheep farms, breed horses, and live close to the land. Bathurst is South Africa’s pineapple capital. South Africa’s temperate coastal climate and surrounding hills and valleys make it the world’s 29th largest pineapple producer.
The town’s beauty and charm attract retired academics, artists, and eccentrics, who open artisanal eateries, galleries, and craft businesses like Twigg Furniture Company.
Curt Herbst and his son Matthys Johannes or “MJ” for short, started Twigg Furniture on Myrtle’s Grove, a cattle farm outside Bathurst.
MJ’s interest in timber started in 2011 when he remodelled his mother Maria’s kitchen with sawn timber that Curt had cut on his Wood-Mizer LT40.
The kitchen that now cooks up a storm for Maria’s preserve company, Myrtle’s Grove Artisan Preserves, inspired MJ to work wider, while Curt’s contract cutting business on nearby farms also took off.
“The farmers in the area knew what my Wood-Mizer could do, so they used me to clear timber with a commercial value from the farms,” Curt says.
Curt’s Wood-Mizer produced pine, cedar, and yellowwood for furniture and log homes. The father-son team’s projects and commissions won praise.
Bespoke furniture and timberware
With Twigg Furniture taking off, the decision to move the business from the farm to Bathurst quickly paid dividends. The company’s new workshop at the Bathurst Showgrounds gave Twigg the room it needed to blossom. Custom furniture, exclusive timberware like cutting boards, serving trays, picture frames, and live-edge bowls filled the range.
Curt added to Twigg’s success with his Wood-Mizer
The sawmill’s ability to cut standard and outsized timber components for traditional and heavy dimensioned furniture items made it indispensable for the workshop’s success. Thick, live-edge slabbed timber and countertops with heavy beams that replace traditional concrete lintels and posts combine with elegantly styled furniture pieces to build Twigg’s range and popularity.
The workshop’s rustic look is perfect for wine and food tasting. Twigg’s charcuterie boards feature meats, cheeses, fruits, and preserves from Maria’s farm and nearby farms.
Covid-19 hurt us badly,” MJ states. “We went from a flourishing business to zero trading in a moment.”
The workshop shut down, and customers dried up. They had to evolve, and they did so fast. The digital arena is now Twigg’s new reality. The company’s ranges now sell online with Maria’s preserves and Curt’s custom sawmilling services.
But at the end of the pandemic, Twigg Furniture is standing firm. The recent Bathurst show, the first after the pandemic’s end, saw Twigg Furniture’s country workshop spilling over with people again.
Wine, good food, timber, and people were welcomed in a new beginning, free from the throes of the virus that kept everyone hostage for nearly two years.
A final take
Change and forging new frontiers are not new for this hardy farming community. They come from a tradition of building and creating a new life and new beginnings where none previously existed.
Bathurst and surrounds, including Twigg Furniture, will sprout again, and the deep soils of the area and the rich tradition of fortitude will build a new and exciting future.
For more information on the Wood-mizer product range, visit www.woodmizer.co.za.