Few companies can achieve a centennial milestone and this year, york celebrated its 100th birthday.

This could not have been achieved without the women and men who helped us accomplish this landmark through the past ten decades. Their pride and passion have stood the test of time. As we celebrate 100 years of growth and survival, we pay homage to the people of York. Below is a brief history of our Company to remind us of our 100-year journey and highlight it to our stakeholders.


Herman Katzenellenbogen was the founder of the Company, Katzenellenbogen Limited. He registered his general dealership business on 16 June 1916. Herman was a Russian immigrant and arrived in South Africa in 1895. He started up a small general dealership in partnership with a fellow immigrant, which became known as Schlosberg & Katzenellenbogen. It traded from premises in Church Street in Pretoria. Five years later, it had expanded to include outlets in Bloemfontein and Heilbron. The Company was known throughout the country as “K’s”. The business initially imported and sold groceries, hardware and agricultural implements. Later it manufactured its own range of products.


Danarm chainsaw, developed in 1939, used in harvesting operations.


The Company was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1946 under the chairmanship of the founder’s son-in-law, Maurice Balzam. The authorised and issued share capital consisted of 640 000 shares.


Max Tucker acquired a substantial interest in Katzenellenbogen Limited in 1960, which he merged with his property and extensive stone quarrying interests. Max was a Lithuanian immigrant who arrived in South Africa at the tender age of 17 and found work in the Cape Town docks. He was a coalminer, quarry man, hotelier, wholesaler, property dealer and sawmiller. Max’s interests in property and stone quarrying merged with the wholesale venture to form the Katzenellenbogen group of companies.


Katzenellenbogen actively expanded its timber interests to secure its raw material supply lines for its emergent lumber business, Katzenellenbogen acquired Nicholson & Mullin sawmill. It was also at the start of this decade that Katzenellenbogen divested its wholesale and retail activities and placed focus on its burgeoning timber operation. The focus was to expand its timber interests vertically in order to secure its raw material supply lines. The scarcity of timber resources led to the purchase of more sawmills. The Company systematically moved from trading to production and ultimately to marketing, which set it apart from its competitors for many years.


The business of ‘Katbogen’ had changed to such an extent that at the start of this decade, the Company name was changed to The York Timber Organisation Limited (Yorkcor).


To address the threat of diminishing timber resources, Yorkcor launched a strategy to boost the Group’s value-added pine products and formed a guild of cooperating, independent manufacturers of high quality pine-based products. The New York Pine (NYP) Guild was formed to harness synergy between entrepreneurs who operated their own factories effectively and who complied with exacting criteria to qualify for licences to manufacture high quality based NYP products designed, developed and marketed by NYP.


Furthering the Company’s strategy to establish a vertically integrated solid wood processor and securing raw material supply, the Company purchased Global Forest Products (GFP) in 2007. It was the same year the largest fi re ever experienced in the history of South Africa swept through the Sabie valley, nearly derailing the Company’s trajectory in the forestry industry.


At the start of this decade, York was returned to profitability, coupled with the successful refinancing of its debt. Implementation of the growth strategy, with a focus on profit generation followed in 2014.


York has restructured its business. It now enters a phase of diversification and investment. Continue this journey with us and we will show you why you need to: Branch out and invest in an asset class where money really does grow on trees.