Letters to members
As we reach the halfway point of the year, we thought we would write with an update on TTF activity.
It’s certainly been a busy year. First off, internally, we have been focused on re-organising the TTF structure as you can see from the schematic included with this letter. This has meant limiting the number of meetings of the “big four” committees of NSD, NPPD, NHD and Forests Forever, in order to set up market facing working groups.
Each of these have been identified as areas which either have problems to address, or are large commercial sectors – e.g. flooring, engineered wood products – which simply weren’t on the TTF radar previously. In each case, we aim to bring clarity for members and the market in terms of product description, sale and specification, as well as promotion of the products and the members that sell them.
We have also taken these subjects out of the main four committees as, in many cases, they transcend the boundaries between softwood, hardwoods and panels. Cladding, for example, is a big market for all three, as are engineered wood products.
The theme of fire of course covers all product categories and every point of the supply chain. As a result, TTF has been leading projects with all supply chain partners – TRADA, WPA, BWF and STA, with support from Swedish Wood and others – to develop an online guide for specifiers wanting information on timber construction and fire performance. This is due to go live later this year and will be free and open to all.
Fire has been a key theme of our lobbying work, particularly regarding cladding and timber construction and will remain a key theme in the working groups. We’ve been proud to form a solid partnership with the WPA here, drawing on their technical expertise, and will continue to work together to ensure we present a united front on this most important of subjects.
The ongoing Brexit saga has occupied far too much of our time this year and last, and shows no sign of reaching any conclusion yet. As many of you know, we have worked tirelessly to ensure the views and concerns of our sector are known, and that we can carry on conducting our business with as little disruption as possible.
I’m pleased to say we have at least put timber on the map in Whitehall, even if we can’t say we have any positive outcome for Brexit itself. It’s claimed the scalps of 38 ministers and two Prime Ministers already. I don’t want to go the same way!
For this reason, we have now switched focus in our All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). While Brexit bubbles along, other issues are being ignored, notably housing. This will only rise up the agenda again, whoever assumes power in a few weeks’ time. So, along with STA and others, we are working with politicians and industry in a series of focus groups and evidence sessions across England, Scotland and Wales to produce a report highlighting the role that timber construction can play in helping solve the housing crisis. This will be launched at a Parliamentary Reception toward the end of the year, to which you will all be invited.
Thankfully, market regulation and political lobbying are not the only things taking up our time.
This year, as you’ll see from the brochure in this envelope, we have launched a new training course: The Essential Foundations of Sales Management, in conjunction with Reed Consultants and Cortexa. This is a 12 month programme, accredited by the Institute of Sales Management, aimed at building sales skills and developing talent in your business.
We launched the course aiming to get 12 delegates through in the first year. I’m pleased to say that 30 have taken this up, in three separate cohorts, and we hope it proves popular and enduring for years to come.
The training theme will be further enhanced with our online TTF Training Academy due to be launched at the AGM this month. This will provide all members with access to a mix of wood product training, the Level 3 Award in Timber Merchanting, along with training modules in other key aspects of business. We hope to be running introductory sessions with all regional associations throughout the coming year.
Finally, we have been putting a lot of effort into ensuring all our members get the promotion they deserve in front of their key customer audiences.
We are now producing two publications for the merchant sector: Trusted Timber, which is distributed with Builders Merchant Journal across the UK; and Timber Forum News, which is distributed by the Builders Merchant Federation twice per year. You can find all the merchant news here.
Working with other “customer based” trade bodies and publications has always been a key part of our strategy. We are also producing content for distribution to Federation of Master Builders, Professional Builder magazine, and other outlets to promote timber to the end user.
This will be enhanced further when we launch Timberworks our online news and case studies service for architects, designers and other specifiers.
Influencing them in their decisions, as well as helping train them through our series of online RIBA CPD modules on Wood Campus, is a key part of our strategy to help grow the market.
Of course, there is always more to do. The political landscape doesn’t stop moving, the market has bombarded us all with consolidation, major price and currency fluctuations, over-supply, under-demand and many other pressures besides.
Throughout it all we will continue to provide a strong voice for the sector, to work with members to iron out problems and issues we encounter from preservative treatment to sustainability and supply chain management, to ensure we have appropriate training in place for your staff and your customers, and to keep promoting our members and their products as #TimberYouCanTrust to all of your key buying audiences. We may even find time to get together for a drink and a bite to eat along the way.
With this in mind, I would like to thank you for your continued support of the TTF, and invite you to join us at our AGM and Summer Drinks Reception, aboard the Tattershall Castle on 26th Junefrom 3pm.