WDE Maspell has been synonymous with vacuum wood drying since 1962 and with high-temperature thermal vacuum treatments since 2010. They are now in their third generation, and have organized their business to meet the challenges of the global market in the field of vacuum drying and heat treatment for wood modification.

In recent years, the company has embarked on a process of internationalization that allows them to have a network of agents, collaborators and licensees in many countries, on all continents.

Interview with Alessio Lucarelli, Commercial Director at WDE Maspell.

Easy Engineering: How was 2022 for your business, a short summary?

Alessio Lucarelli: 2022 has been a really exciting year for different reasons: first, we have signed the highest revenue contract in our history, for the supply of 3 units of TVS Square L 15000 in the USA: the TVS “Square” L 15000 is the largest thermal-modification system in our product range. 

Then, we attended Xylexpo 2022 Exhibition in Milan, the first “live” after the pandemic restrictions: it was nice to meet again our customers and our competitors in person, we missed it a lot. 

Finally, we greatly enhanced our exposure on the West Coast of the United States through a new partnership between SII Dry Kilns, our long-standing partner for the United States, and Heicor Enterprises based in Monmouth, OR (read more here ((4) SII Dry Kilns, WDE Maspell and Heicor Enterprises partner for Vacuum Heat Treatment Systems in the West Coast | LinkedIn).

E.E: What new products/services will be launched this year?

A.L: This year we will launch the new full-automatic door-opening and loading/unloading system, that will be suitable either for vacuum dryers and for vacuum thermal-modification units: this product will meet the specific requirements that we received from some markets, especially in the Nordics of EU, either in terms of loading/unloading speed (that is, productivity) and will be equipped with the most advanced safety systems. 

Likewise, we will launch also a new heat input system: this system will allow our customers to provide heat to the chamber of their vacuum dryers with a simple biomass boiler, which will ensure a strong reduction of energy consumption thus allowing also saving money. We are currently studying the possibility to extend this heating system to the thermal-modification plants, which is of course more difficult because of the higher operating temperatures.

E.E: How did the market change in the last year?

A.L: We noticed a rather marked difference between European and U.S. markets: the U.S., in particular, showed a still strong predisposition toward investment, while EU markets slowed down significantly from the post-pandemic positive trend. As a matter of fact, we noticed that, from EU, we have received a quite significant number of enquiries for second-hand dryers and for fixing existing dryers, which was not happening since quite a long time ago: moreover, EU companies seem now to be waiting more for public funds in order to finalize their investments. 

E.E: What were the best-selling products of 2022?

A.L: The high temperature thermal-modification systems, no doubt: this is also supposed to be the trend for the next years, aligned with the increasing demand of thermal modified timber, worldwide.

E.E: What sector of business do you think is expected to grow this year?

A.L: High-temperature thermally-modified wood is increasingly in demand all over the world: its characteristics, such as increased durability, greater stability, and color change, together with the many possibilities for its environmentally friendly use (replacing other non-eco-friendly materials such as steel and concrete, but also plastic), make it a real game changer, especially in construction, street furniture, window and door frames, interior design, finally furniture and many other sectors. Thus, as mentioned above, thermal-modification systems represent the sector in which our business is expected to grow the most: the inquiries we are receiving confirm this trend.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?

A.L: If we think in terms of business development, we have to say that the outcomes of most of our expectations in EU will still depend on the future geo-political situation: as everybody else, we hope that the situation will stabilize soon in the sign of peace. This will allow the return to a climate of confidence, an essential basis for encouraging investment and looking to the future with greater serenity, also here in Europe. In the meanwhile, since the beginning of 2022 we have started to look at other markets which show a higher stability and a growth of their economy: among these, again, North-America markets seem to be the most favorable ones for WDE Maspell in 2023.

E.E: A short message for collaborators for the beginning of the year.

A.L: We would mainly like to share with all our stakeholders, namely our subcontractors, suppliers, agents and distributors, as well as local institutions and financial partners, a message of hope and confidence for the future, which is essential for businesses to operate in the present with passion, dedication and the right amount of optimism.