Congratulations to TimberTrader News on your 30th anniversary. The hard work and passion of the founding publisher, Greg King, has provided a valuable and professional forum for industry news and views, which I am pleased to see continues to survive this ‘internet age’.
We work in an industry which is changing rapidly, and will continue to do so. In many segments of the industry landscape, we are witnessing ongoing consolidation of companies in the hands of large, corporate players. In addition, the strength of large buying groups has placed considerable pressure on industry margins and profitability. A lack of pricing discipline in many parts of the industry has also contributed to low returns to many shareholders, even when housing starts are at record highs.
Increased imports, despite the recent fall in the Australian dollar, continue to challenge the efficiency of local producers. Despite all of these challenges, I am confident that the Australian timber industry will prosper and grow, but to do so will require creative and strategic leadership.
For example, emerging markets such as the high-rise commercial and apartment segment provide hope for new and exciting opportunities.
To ensure long-term success, the industry also needs to give priority to collaboration, particularly in areas of research, market development, and promotion.
The Forest and Wood Products Association and other industry bodies currently have the infrastructure for this to happen. I am concerned that over the life of TimberTrader News, the research capacity in Australia has significantly diminished, and will continue to do so, as researchers with key skills retire and are not replaced.
In a carbon-constrained world, timber is the ideal product. As this message filters through to the designers, specifiers and general community, our industry should yield the benefits.
In light of this, I look forward to reading about these benefits in TimberTrader News for many years to come.