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The Centre of European Timber Trade

Vandecasteele Houtimport is a family-run timber company founded in Belgium in 1883 and is today run by the fourth and fifth generations of the Vandecasteele family – they have the number one objective of trading 100% certified wood from 2025 onwards.

Vandecasteele Houtimport imports timber and timber products from over 45 countries worldwide. A modern and expanding business, it has a long-term commitment to service a wide variety of customers in the construction, joinery, cladding and furniture sectors, as well as the high-end marine industry.

Located right in the heart of Europe, with easy road access to customers in all European markets, Vandecasteele Houtimport has consistently developed its long-term strategy to become Europe’s number one timber stockist. Its facilities are located in Kortrijk, Aalbeke, Belgium, where the company specialises in the import, trading and export of tropical hardwood from Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. The company also provide Scandinavian and Russian softwood, Siberian Larch, North American soft and hardwood and European hardwood. The company has been passed down through the generations to its current owner Stefaan Vandecasteele. Stefaan took over the running of the company in 2000 and together with his son Louis, keeps the company’s family spirit alive.

Its impressive set up allows its storage facility – which is situated on 39.5 acres of land – to accommodate more than 150,000m³ of sawn timber products. The total covered space of the company’s main warehouse reaches 16 hectares, contained in a site of 60 hectares.

Timber coming from all over the world are centralised in one location. Working alongside timber importers, timber merchants and wholesalers, the company can deliver stock that is difficult to source within days using its own fleet of 18 vehicles. In a matter of days, Vandecasteele Houtimport has the resources and ability to adapt and bridge the gap between sources of supply in Africa, Far East, South America and North America to Europe. This makes the company the first choice with many importers and merchants.

Certified Timber
Its impressive and vast stockholding of hardwoods and softwoods is coupled with strong environmental credentials (FSC®, PEFC, OLB, LegalSource) and an efficient, accurate processing of customer orders. The company has set a challenging goal to trade in 100% certified timbers only from 2025. Experienced staff unload incoming lorries and prepare outgoing deliveries and all parcels have a quality file in which the quality of the parcel is registered, with quality control inspections of goods at the ports of Antwerp or Ghent or in Aalbeke.

In 2021, Vandecasteele Houtimport invested in 17 new Volvo trucks with Volvo Connect tracking system, five new side loaders of which one full electric and 10 new trailers. The racking system has also been extended which will now reach five miles. The company has launched a dedicated customer portal, which allows customers to order their timber online. In a world where consumers seek instant response to any ‘search,’ Vandecasteele Houtimport’s sales representatives have quick to real time information on all inventory moves from all over the world.

The company is also investing in new IT tools to track and trace the timber from source and ensure the provenance of the timber is EUTR-compliant. Currently, 100% of the softwoods the company stock are already certified and over 65% of the tropical hardwood. This number is continuously growing and makes Vandecasteele Houtimport the biggest stockholder of certified tropical timbers in Europe.

Vandecasteele Houtimport is passionate about timber being used for sustainable building and construction materials. Every step the company make boasts several ecological advantages showcasing the use of timber compared to traditional materials. With a low embodied energy and minimal carbon impact, timber really is the most sustainable material. It is ecological, recyclable and biodegradable, which is why Vandecasteele Houtimport is implementing a strict sustainability policy in all its future actions and activities.

Every step Vandecasteele Houtimport takes, shows the dedication and passion of the company and its future goals. As the company strive to be the European market leader in the trading of the richest assortment of certified timber, exclusively sourced from well-managed certified forests, it is not going to be an easy journey, but it will most certainly be rewarding. With the goal of maximising the social, economic and environmental value of timber, now and for future generations, Vandecasteele Houtimport is creating economical sustainable change in a world that needs it most.

The variety of stock from the company embellishes the company’s taglines of ‘Choose Life, Choose Wood’ and ‘Using timber is good, using certified timber is wonderful!’ Buying from a responsible supplier makes YOU a responsible buyer.

You can read the full feature in the Spring Timber Trader UK magazine

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