The TABMA 2019 National Awards rewarded the best and brightest in the industry.

On a warm spring night, timber industry leaders and their loved ones came together at Doltone House near Sydney’s Hyde Park for the TABMA 2019 National Awards. In the glam Art Deco surrounds, attendees looked splendid in their black tie.

Andrew Daddo took on hosting duties, bringing a mix of humour and warmth to the role that – along with pre-dinner drinks and the talented band – set a relaxed tone that pervaded the evening.

TABMA CEO David Little opened the official proceedings with thanks for everyone taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. He acknowledged that it’s been a difficult trading year and talked about the work he and Alicia Oelkers (general manager Qld, SA and WA) have been doing listening to members around the country.

Despite the problems – mostly factors outside the industry – there was a lot to celebrate, especially the quality list of students, trainees and apprentices who had been nominated for awards. They were invited to stand as a group for a round of applause and acknowledgement of their importance to the industry’s future.

Other association attendees were also welcomed, including Bronwyn Foord from WADIC, Kersten Gentle from FTMA and Brian Beecroft from TTIA.

The first award was Student of the Year, which is a new category for TABMA Training. Raymond Seres from HQ Plantations, Qld, was the inaugural winner and gave a lovely thank you speech for all the assistance he has received within the industry.

Kim-Louise Hodge from Petries Mitre 10, NSW, won Trainee/Apprentice of the Year, thanking all the team she works with always being happy to answer her questions.

Best Host Employer went to JH Williams Qld. Lyndon Poirrier accepted with a speech that focused on the importance of family-owned businesses and training. Langs Qld won Most Innovative Operation, with David Wuiske saying they were pleased to see the acclaim for their RoadPod system – “A great product that came from a sketch on a bit of paper that Bob Lang did.”

Michael Branton from ITI, Qld, was a popular winner of Best Timber Wholesale Representative. He joked that he had only just arrived in time due to being booked on Jetstar before thanking his customers.

There were multiple favourites in the shortlist for Best Timber Manufacturing Operation with winning Parkside Timber’s Ross Laiken saying with honesty and pride “Ten years ago we were known as Darkside, but we’ve turned that business around.”

Best Timber Frame and Truss Operation was won by Footers Structural Timber, SA. “We’ve invested heavily in culture and found it had just as many benefits as investing in technology,” said Nicole Footer.

Best Building Materials Centre went to NHS NSW, and was accepted by Matt Crocker and Evelyn Thomas who both spoke of the benefits of the family business ethos for both staff and customers. Best Timber Merchant was won by North Shore Timber & Hardware, NSW and gratefully accepted by Joe Zito, while the final company award for the night, Best Timber Wholesale Operation, was won by Meyer Timber NSW.  Kent Powell accepted the award, giving thanks to all the company’s support workers.

The high points of the evening were the last two awards. The Andrew Bone TABMA Member of the Year Award went to Heyden Frame & Truss, NSW. Roy Edwards accepted the honour, saying “Andrew was a great director, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time with him. To win this is a great honour.” Georgia Bone, who presented the award, spoke of Andrew’s absence, but also the accomplishment of family business Bone Timber reaching a century this year.

The last order of business was celebrating the 50-year career of Brenton Christopher, who is retiring. Glasses were raised by all and a toast drunk to a man who has given so much to the industry.

And then, back to the dancing and celebrating another year’s good work!

Image: Georgia Bone awards the Andrew Bone TABMA Member of the Year Award to Heyden Frame & Truss, accepted by Roy Edwards.