CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Historic day for the voice of timber industries

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

It was definitely one of those historic moments. On 15 October CTI Chairman Peter Hindle MBE welcomed the new directors to the first CTI Board meeting. In his opening remarks Peter referred to timber being an important part of his personal background and the history of the Saint Gobain Group. Although he recognised that there were a number of issues in terms of sustainability and skills which had to be addressed he firmly believed timber industries had a great future and potential to grow. To this end, improving industry advocacy to the end user market would be critical.

It was a great Board meeting in so many ways. The Board members spoke passionately from their business experience. All are senior executives who represent their companies or trade association members from across the whole Timber Supply Chain, from saw mills, wood panel production and timber importers to furniture makers, paper manufacturers, builders merchants and housing construction and repairs and maintenance in interiors.

The Board is also fully behind the vision to speak as a single voice for the whole of the Timber Industry Supply Chain. They will not waver from the CTI’s mission to improve the business landscape to grow the use of timber and develop vibrant and increasingly prosperous timber industries.

And most importantly, the Board agreed a three year strategic plan. Key objectives will be to

Develop new economic measures to grow the whole timber industries supply chain

Promote timber as the most sustainable and sustainable building material and an integral part of the low carbon society

Address skills shortages in the supply chain and persuade more young people to choose a career path in the timber industries

We will be publishing the strategic plan soon and developing these policy areas in more detail at member working group meetings in November. Watch this space for more details. In other words, more history will be made.

CTI Blog - “A Day in the Woods”, an inspiring event

This blog post is by Benedetto Antuono, CTI Communications Coordinator

Some stories are really worth telling. And James Latham Ltd is one of these. Established in 1757, member of the TTF, it is one of the leading importers and distributors of softwood and hardwood in the UK, and last week was named TTJ Timber Trader of the Year for the 6th year in a row.

I met Chris Sutton, James Latham Managing Director, during the TTJ awards on 24 September in London Visibly excited, he received the Award from Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive, and few hours later he drove back to Leicester to tie up some loose ends for the company suppliers’ event, significantly named “A day in the woods”.

The day after, I met Chris again in Nanpantan, Leicestershire. The elegant businessman seen at the Landmark Hotel now wore a Rugby sweatshirt, blue jeans and boots. Standing in the information point in the National Forest, he was explaining to his guests the meaning of “A day in the woods”.

“We are happy to be here again”, said Chris. “Our partnership with the National Forest goes back to 2007 when we planted 250 trees to mark our 250th anniversary. In 2012, we planted other 60 trees for the Jubilee and we will renew the agreement again”.

“As you know, this event celebrates the relationship between James Latham and the National Forest, one of the greatest regeneration projects in the UK with over 8 million trees planted, but today we are also here to practise some good “team building” in the open air. You won’t regret it”!

As on Thursday, the audience was made of influential representatives of the UK Timber Industry but, this time, all of them, a group of 16 ladies and gentlemen, wore frayed pants, lumberjack shirts and old shoes.

20 minutes later I discovered why.

We went to a sustainably managed wood nearby, and quickly we started to clean the area from infesting bushes and small trees. Equipped with pruners and hacksaws, we worked for nearly 2 hours under the sunshine in teams of three labourers. It was great to see Directors, Managers and CEOs from all across the Timber Supply Chain, sometimes competitors sometimes allies, collaborating and sweating side by side, to achieve the same objective.

Around lunch time, the area already looked much more orderly with the new-planted birches and spruces in row. We could even catch a glimpse of the end of the wood in the distance.

Suddenly I stopped and wondered. “That’s a great metaphor”, I realised. “Apparently in a well-managed forest, you can see both the trees and the wood at the same time! If we just exported this model to our Industry, working in the same direction and combining different interests, expertise and opinions, we could really achieve big targets”!

Exactly what the CTI is doing.

“Thanks Chris, that’s an inspiring day”, I said. And I smiled.

View the Images Gallery here.

CTI Blog - Developing a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous timber supply chain

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Tomorrow CTI supporters will gather at our latest event to take the new confederation to the next level. The CTI will start working with 45 supporters across the timber supply chain to improve the business landscape and develop a vibrant, sustainable and increasingly prosperous industry. Together with our new partners we will be mapping and developing policy in such areas as Value & Growth, Sustainability and Standards and Skills and Education. This will enable the sector to develop a clear engagement strategy going forward.

For example, the CTI will tomorrow facilitate a session at our supporters’ network event which will start scoping the value and prospects of the timber supply chain. Understanding the growth opportunities and competitive pressures in each link of the supply chain is critical. This is where CTI supporters representing these sub-sectors will provide valuable input into the process of producing a credible economic impact assessment.

It is worth remembering that when the major trade associations in the supply chain looked at these issues in the recent past the key areas for action were:

Growing our low-carbon economy (supporting carbon reduction targets)

Building more homes for Britain

Ensuring all building projects consider full carbon impact

Encouraging more planting

Based on recent economic surveys from within the supply chain, the key sub-sectors are appearing to show only very modest growth. In the light of recent Government announcements the CTI supporters will be reviewing the key areas for action and exploring where further research and/or activity is needed. This will culminate in the CTI’s report on value and growth which will identify the opportunities and threats to markets within the supply chain sectors.

Tomorrow marks the start of an exciting journey on numerous fronts. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CTI’s supporters’ network of major multi-national companies, trade associations, universities, training providers, awarding bodies, research institutes and other interested parties for their unwavering support. More network details can be found on our website.

CTI Blog - Timber industry: investing in young people for a brighter future

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Some time ago I was roaming around a village book fair when I stumbled upon the biography of Dr Carl Horst Hahn, chairman emeritus of Volkswagen Group. ‘From apprentice to CEO: Carl Hahn 40 years in Volkswagen’ was an inspiring, motivational example of what you can achieve with clear targets in mind and solid support from your employer.

Building a career like Carl Hahn did, step by step, is a huge challenge. Every year thousands of youngsters in the UK start their careers as apprentices looking for an opportunity to learn, earn and grow. And many businesses in the timber supply chain already offer apprenticeship places. According to the Skill Funding Agency report (December 2014), more than 850,000 people have been involved in an apprenticeship in a range of business sectors from 2013 to 2014. Their work contributed £34 billion to the UK economy in 2014.

We are talking about investing in the future. A concept which the companies working across the timber supply chain implement on a daily basis. Think about it for a few minutes and you will discover that the career opportunities are immense. From Forestry to Shipping; from Manufacturing to Distributing; from Printing to Energy Production, the Timber Industry is an endless source of possibilities.  Currently, timber related apprenticeships feature saw mills, wood machinists, boat buildings, carpentry and joinery, administration, sales, flooring, marketing, manufacturing and many more.

That’s why the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development needs to match these opportunities to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction.  On the 23th of September the CTI network will meet to set up a specific workgroup on this subject involving a range of organisations and companies across the Timber Industry. Firstly we need to answer some questions: where are the skills shortages? Where will the supply come from? What is needed in terms of funding and infrastructure? How do we get the next generation to want a career in the timber sector? How do we get specifiers, designers and contractors to increase demand for their skills?

Secondly, we must realise that educational programmes are win-win scenarios. For example, thanks to the apprenticeships scheme, young people now have more opportunities to learn as they earn, gaining a recognised qualification and growing their careers. On the other hand, employers also benefit from training their future managers, instilling company values and gaining their loyalty whilst strengthening mutually beneficial relationships with colleges and getting helpful grants.

Last but not least, we shouldn’t forget the current economic situation. In these uncertain times it pays to train and be open to creative solutions. Businesses that invest in their workforce are more likely to flourish again and survive in the long-term. As Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up said: “Investing in our young people is not just a matter of economic justice, it’s good business sense.”

CTI Blog - Newborn CTI takes first steps

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Welcome to the first CTI blog. Written at a point in time when we are opening up a new chapter in the illustrious history of timber in this country. The Confederation was born six weeks ago and it is without question a lively baby! Already we have had a lot of engagement with the industry and our new Supporters Network now includes 38 organisations coming from all parts of the UK Timber Supply Chain. Not even in our most optimistic scenarios did we envisage such an enthusiastic response in such a short space of time.

Having said that, this is only the beginning and we have no intention to rest on our laurels. Autumn 2015 will provide further evidence of CTI’s strategy bearing fruit. The next step will be the first Supporters Network meeting on the 23rd of September which brings back together all CTI’s supporters and interested parties in London. Open invitations will be sent out shortly. The event’s objective is clear cut:  discussing the future membership structure and activities of the Confederation. We will start the process of forming CTI working groups which will scope and commission reports in three key areas: Value and Growth; Sustainability and Quality of standards; Skills and Education. Knowing we will have so much imagination, expertise and passion in the room we can’t wait to get started!

With the same enthusiasm and energy the Confederation will also start to develop new relationships with Governments and Parliaments. This is definitely the right time for a change in mind set and a co-ordinated approach by the industry will ensure a strong voice will be heard on growing the low carbon economy. No wonder our agenda for the next few months includes party conferences, representations and a parliamentary event in November. And already our initial contacts are generating positive responses.

Finally, we mustn’t forget the most important and unifying theme behind the CTI’s mission: the beauty of timber. That’s why we are proud to promote excellence across the Timber Supply Chain. On 24 September we are supporting the award for Timber Trader of the Year at the TTJ Awards in London. Less than two weeks later we will be sponsoring the Product Innovation Award at the Structural Timber Awards (Timber Expo in Birmingham). Last but not least, we will be backing excellence in architecture and product design at the Wood Awards on 10 November.

There you have it in a nutshell. As a new chapter is written in the history of timber the building blocks are taking shape in the form of a strong network, effective stakeholder engagement and high profile promotion. Do join us and help guide the lively baby into becoming a focused toddler