Two years of hard work and great achievements: Why I am optimistic about the future of our Industry
15th December 2017

Two years of hard work and great achievements: Why I am optimistic about the future of our Industry

In this blog post Keith Fryer takes stock of his two-year Presidency at the Timber Trade Federation

Sometimes you have to look backwards, to recognise whether you really have moved any noticeable distance; rather like a ship leaving the dockside and heading for the horizon, movement can be imperceptible, but I think that I can honestly say that while I have looked back from time to time over the last two years, past events have soon slipped out of sight, as the TTF moved rapidly onto the next phase. It has been one heck of a ride!

The TTF has now reached its 125th year and that in itself is a significant achievement. Looking into some of the history (I was kindly given a book that covered our first 100 years and, sadly, have been around in the industry since then!), the Federation has regularly undergone moments of deep crisis, mostly through times of conflict or severe economic disturbance.

However, in the last few years we have had to recognise that we needed to do far more for our members and show clear, strong direction. That’s very different from just saying yes, or caving in to various requests, or worse still kicking that wretched can down the road. Sometimes we need to say no, explain why and then maintain that clear direction.

I think that these last two years have shown that the Federation has given its members that direction, carefully and considerately, but also with speed and clarity. There have been many successes; far too many to mention, but a few spring to mind.

Firstly, the work that has gone on quietly and doggedly, to improve our RPP systems and to work with DFID, to gain significant funding and develop all manner of international projects. The TTF has become very well respected in this field and we can prove that membership is a serious matter, where the consequences of failure have real penalties. We have used our Code of Conduct and it has brought about real change.

Secondly, the Plywood Review. In my opinion this is the greatest piece of work that the Federation has produced in many, many years. It has been, quite literally, transformational and has shown that our structures, where the Regions and the Product Divisions work with the TTF team, are a massively effective force.

There were many who said we would never get these changes through, let alone in less than 18 months, but we did and we’re far stronger because of it. I cannot even begin to say just how grateful I am to the massive number of people who have worked together, to bring this about. We should be extremely proud of our achievement; it’s a game changer for plywood.

Now the focus has moved onto preservative treatment and a full investigation of FR treatments. The pace and positivity shown by the Plywood Review is a good example of how important it is to resolve these matters speedily, so that the Federation and its members can continue to show leadership in the industry.

That all leads to the third success: Timber You Can Trust. The campaign slogan is starting to have traction. Members are beginning to believe that they really are better than non-members, because they stand, shoulder to shoulder, with a clear message: use TTF members and you know what you’re getting. Buy elsewhere and ….. well, who knows?

All of this success has been brought about by the members; by their willingness to work together, to share information and act as a cohesive team. We should be incredibly proud of what we have done.

But all great teams need leadership and support. The TTF head office team, guided by a Governing Board that have worked diligently to steer the direction, has done a magnificent job. We owe our team at Store Street a massive vote of thanks for all that they do for us.

But the accolades and brickbats are reserved for the person who leads and in our case we have the great fortune to be under the care and guidance of Dave Hopkins. Dave has worked, tirelessly, for all of us. He has brought great vision and enormous energy to the role and I have been extremely fortunate to serve as President alongside Dave and his team. Without them, this would have been a very different Presidency.

Now Charles Hopping has taken over and once again we’re very fortunate. Charles knows and cares, deeply, about this industry. Please continue to support Charles, the TTF team, the Regions and the product Divisions as the TTF heads towards 2020, looking back occasionally, but going forwards with a continued strength of purpose.

I hope that everyone has a well deserved break over the Christmas Holiday  –  enjoy every moment and come back, ready to do this, all over again!