Part of the attraction for me was to re-visit all 340 odd back issues and try and remember the highlights we have covered over these three decades. That has been very easy, and a heap of fun. I hope these pages bring back memories for our long-term readers and give those new to our mag an idea of where our sector of the industry has come from over the last 30 years.

To start this process I thought I’d touch a little on my background. That will give you an idea of how I came to this spot of being only a few months short of celebrating my personal half century in the printing and publishing industry.

On January 10, 1966, I commenced a printing apprenticeship as a hand and machine compositor with the now defunct Daily Commercial News & Shipping List. By mid 1969, I’d transferred my indentures to Broadglen Publishing, a company with four suburban newspapers on the northern outskirts of Melbourne.

One of the founding directors of Broadglen (early 1950s) was the late Bob Grant, a journalist with an entrepreneurial flair. We struck up a friendship, even though he was 20 years older and the Managing Director of the company. This was easily explained, as we were both passionate Carlton supporters and quickly started meeting on a Saturday afternoon at the footy.

I left Broadglen in 1978 and after a few corporate mis-adventures joined Bob in another business called Montpara Publications. This was a side business for Bob, still being a director of Broadglen and having started a hobby publication called Footwear News in 1980. I was Bob’s hands-on manager while he supplied the off-site financial support. Quickly it became a formalised partnership with a company structure and an equal shareholding between the two of us.

During 1985, Bob was offered a national newspaper called Timber News (TN) that had only been printed for six months with a far-flung circulation of 12,000 copies. TN was losing massive amounts of money. Bob brought it to me and I said we’d take it on only if we scaled it back and rebranded. From a national focus it became Victoria only and renamed Timber Trader & Building Materials News. Within 12 months it was TimberTrader News, a tabloid format newspaper circulating throughout the southern part of Australia.

By 1992, Bob and I had amicably parted, and together with my wife, Paula, I purchased the complete shareholding of TimberTrader News. It was tough. The July 1992 edition cost $14,000 to produce against revenues of just over $9,000. Time to get on the skates and get things happening.

We invested almost everything we had and turned the magazine into a national publication, travelled extensively, employed a full time writer, out-sourced our production and risked everything on the dream of a national monthly publication covering my three Ms of focus in the timber industry – merchandising, marketing, and manufacturing.

Like every business, we had our ups and downs, our highs
and lows, our great ideas and our disasters, and our tragedies and celebrations.

The following pages are my recollections of a very small part of those events. Each year is presented as a snapshot. The events and functions, ground breaking news, openings and closures and most importantly, my mantra of people, people, people!

So, as my career winds down, I’m confident my creation is in good hands. GSP have some fabulous plans for our future. We’ve already seen a great digital offering being developed, a cleaner and more open production, new people with a fresh editorial style without losing the emphasis of the people of the industry. All the ingredients for a great future.

And me? I’ll be around, looking after some clients, writing about some of my conversations with industry identities and generally offering paternal guidance (when asked) to an engaging new team primed to take TimberTrader News up to its 50th birthday in October, 2035.

Thanks for being with me on the first part of this journey, hang on, and enjoy the ride.