Joris Roell: Linii Tasmania
Joris is carving a successful career from Tasmania’s ancient Huon Pine
Joris Roell and his family relocated to Tasmania in 2009 after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires and the increased cost of living in Victoria.
“We chose to settle in Penguin, north west Tasmania, by the beach,” says Joris. “We loved the small school and found a property to rent straight away before buying a house.”
After a career as a chef and many years in civil construction, Joris was searching for a niche business that had export potential. Whilst knee deep in mud laying plumbing pipes, he would describe to his friend his desire for a family friendly business without a shopfront or the requirement to work every day; one that was not easily replicated or part of an established market. He researched everything from mushroom and truffle farming to sea urchin cultivation, until his friend mentioned Huon Pine and its excellent flea repellent properties.
The Huon Pine conifer is endemic to Tasmania and grows only in the wet temperate rainforest of the State’s west and south-west, with some living to reach an age of 3 000 years. It is Australia’s oldest living tree and is one of the oldest living organisms on earth.
After some research, Joris found that Huon Pine has been used as a silverfish, moth and flea repellent in the past. There is a naturally occurring ingredient in the timber giving it preservative and repellent qualities along with its unique smell. It does not kill insects, but instead discourages them from nesting in an area, similar to the way a camphor moth ball works.
“I read some really old articles from the late 1800s where Huon Pine was tested for its medical benefits. It was even used to heal human ulcers and cankerous sores,” explains Joris.
Joris went in search of commercial quantities of Huon Pine and found nearly a tonne to experiment with. After much research and development, he took Huon Pine’s preservative qualities and delivered them in various product forms. The more he learned, the more he was wooed by this natural Tasmanian resource. And so Linii Tasmania was born. The name is drawn from the last five letters of the pine’s botanical name – Lagarostrobos Franklinii.
“My vision from the very beginning was to create value and desire for a product that is currently underappreciated and undervalued,” explains Joris. “This wasn’t about launching a new product but reviving an existing resource and presenting it in a modern form, showcasing its natural beauty.”
In 2016, Joris’ start-up took out the BOFA Innovative Tasmania Awards Environment Award. There are now nine products in the Linii Tasmania range, from soaps to carpet freshener to Huon Pine mist, all 100 per cent chemical free, Australian made, Brand Tasmania and chain of custody certified. New products are on the way including an odour absorbing and flea repellent dog bed.
With more than 50 stockists across Tasmania, 70 across the rest of Australia and a distributor based in Malaysia, Linii Tasmania is expanding at pace with enthusiastic customers as far afield as Singapore, the United States, Japan and beyond.
“When I began, my wife and I gave it just four months to gain traction or I’d return to full time work. This went on for 18 months, but today we are excited to say we have a thriving business.”
“What’s exciting is there is still so much potential here,” adds Joris. “We are trialling Huon Pine products with the bee keeping industry to repel the wax moth pest, and our first dog bed prototypes filled with Huon Pine wood wool arrive shortly. Judging by pre-sales of the product and the response from testers, indicators are that these will fly out the door.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.