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Famous guitar maker, Taylor Guitar, says buying a sawmill in Cameroon was a fantastic decision

In 1974 Bob Taylor started a new guitar making company, Taylor Guitar, in California, US. When he started the company, the guitar market was dominated by famous brands such as CF Martin and Gibson. He also decided to use Ebony as the chief material for the company’s guitar. Ebony wood, primarily comes from the Congo basin.

In 2011, Bob Taylor, the now famous guitar maker received a call from their business partner in Madrid, Spain, to buy a sawmill, Crelicam mill, in Cameroon. The acquisition will help the company to establish one of its first vertical integration and security of its primary input, Ebony.  Madinter investment presented the project to Bob Taylor as a business opportunity. Bob agreed to invest in the venture.

But “as new owners of the Crelicam mill, Bob Taylor and Vidal de Teresa [owner of Madinter] confronted many issues that needed urgent attention. The buildings and equipment at the mill were in disrepair, a fact that became even more apparent during Yaoundé’s seasonally frequent rainfalls” the company said.

Workers at Crelicam mill in Yaounde, photo credit Taylor Guitar

“Between faulty electricity, a lack of training, and poor sanitary conditions, it was nearly impossible for employees to properly process wood. As a result, there was considerable waste and compromised safety. Employees were not paid well. Most didn’t have lunch to eat, and there was no access to clean water” the company added as part of its Ebony Project.

The owners began the transformation of the mill by improving working conditions, skills and wages. Bob and Vidal de Teresa explained to the workers  “how the wood processing skills they were acquiring would make more from less. They shared plans to build a cantina to provide free lunch and drilled a well for fresh water — water that is also piped outside the walls of Crelicam, providing a source of free clean water to the community of Odza, where the factory is based”.

Speaking to Business Insider, seven years after buying the mill, Bob said the mill has helped the company to meet its growing demand. “In 2007, we made 100 guitars a day. But we make 750 now. With ebony, we’re at the heart of the heart of the heart of the matter. So we bought this business and decided to make it right with all the pain and suffering involved. It’s turned out to be fantastic.”

“Our investment is in the country,” Bob said. “We’re bringing more value-added processing to Cameroon.” Bob Turned 63 year, and he has made pro-environmental protection view the corner stone of his company’s policy in Cameroon.

“This wood brings jobs,” he said. “Rather than this wood is just extracted.”



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