WPA announces 2020 Award winners in online show

22 October 2020


The winners of the 2020 WPA Awards for wood protection excellence have been announced in a live online event held on October 15. Now in their sixth year, the Wood Protection Association Awards are a showcase for the UK wood protection industry and the vital role preservative pre-treatments, modified wood and flame retardants play in making the most of wood as a sustainable construction material.

Covid-19 meant that the original 2020 Awards event in April had to be postponed and rescheduled for October. However, ongoing pandemic restrictions put paid to that too. Moving the event online meant that over 60 WPA members and guests could still gather together safely to see WPA chief executive Gordon Ewbank host a review of the finalists in each of the five Awards categories and announce the winners.  

The 2020 Award Categories and winners are:

Wood Protection Project of the Year: Woodsafe Fire Protection for the Wood Hotel, Brumundall, Norway
Treated Wood Trader of the Year: James Jones and Sons

Innovation Award: BSW for IRO wood
Treatment Quality Award: W J Treatments, Rochester, Kent

Outstanding Contribution Award: Willie Clason

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges comprising Ed Suttie, head of sustainability at BRE; Sally Spencer, deputy editor, TTJ magazine and WPA CEO Gordon Ewbank.

From the call for nominations to the after-event promotion the whole WPA awards process is funded by sponsorship and Gordon Ewbank emphasised how important this had been in ensuring the 2020 Awards could be staged at all.

“As all businesses continue to grapple with the challenges and uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic WPA would like to thank all of the sponsors whose continued support of the WPA Awards through this roller coaster year has been invaluable,” he said.

The main sponsors of the 2020 WPA Awards are all major manufacturers of industrial wood preservatives – Impra, Lonza, Koppers and Wolman. Accsys Technologies provided support as sponsor of the Innovation Award category.

The actual awards presented to the winners have been created from Abodo, a modified wood with a rich brown hue from New Zealand kindly produced for the WPA by Glenalmond Timber the UK distributor of Abodo.

Wood Protection Project of the Year Award – category sponsor: Wolman

This 2020 project of the year was awarded to Woodsafe Timber Protection for the Wood Hotel in the Norwegian town of Brumunddal.

Thought to be the world’s tallest wooden building at the moment, the exterior of the hotels tower is clad with 150m3 of thermally treated pine. The client wanted an uncoated finish and specified that the flame-retardant treatment must provide a long service life without the need for surface coating maintenance. ‘Thermowood D’ treated with Koppers ‘Exterior Fire X ‘was the solution chosen.

Gordon Ewbank said the judges were impressed with how confidence in flame retardant treated timber cladding remained strong outside the UK timber saying: “The Wood Hotel is a fantastic advertisement and endorsement for wood as a viable and sustainable construction material.”

The project of the year award category was the most hotly contested category with a total of 14 nominations.

Treated Wood Trader of the Year – category sponsor: Impra

The treated wood trader of the year Award is all about customer service best practice in the production, distribution and marketing of products made from modified wood, preservative or flame-retardant pre-treated wood or wood-based panel products.

In deciding who should win, the judges focused on how each trader nominated in this category differentiated their business from other suppliers to retain and build customer loyalty.

The winner was James Jones & Sons – a family business founded in the 1830s that has developed into one of the largest timber processors in Europe with 21 sites spread across the UK. This is a business that has always put quality at the heart of its preservative treated wood commercial strategy.

The judges were struck by how hard the company works at maintaining this reputation by developing strong relationships with its suppliers, its customers and through the loyalty of its employees.

Wood Protection Innovation Award – category sponsor: Accsys Technologies

This Award is a showcase for new ideas, new products and more effective ways of doing things that add value from a wood protection customer’s perspective. The winner is IRO Timber, a new type of durable architectural cladding and decking.

Developed by BSW, the production of IRO is based on ‘Yakisugi’ the traditional Japanese method of charring wood with heat to enhance durability performance. Yaki means to heat with fire, and sugi refers to the wood. Iro decking and cladding is further enhanced by a surface colouration technique and is available in a range of 15 UV resistant colours.

WPA Benchmark Quality Excellence Award – category sponsor Lonza

The quality excellence award is exclusive to those treaters who produce preservative or flame-retardant treated wood under the WPA Benchmark or FR Build third-party quality assurance schemes.

“When it comes to quality treated wood, this category represents the best of the best,” said Mr Ewbank.

The 2020 Award was won by WJ Treatments, Rochester for its FR Build operations. WJ Treatments is a business dedicated to the service treatment of the timber and finished wood products of its customers. When the timber frame industry introduced FR Build measures to prevent fires during construction, WJ Treatments recognised an opportunity to provide component manufacturers with a flame-retardant treatment service compliant with Structural Timber Association FR Build scheme requirements. That meant becoming certificated under the FR Build quality scheme operated by WPA.

The independent quality assurance of treated wood is now widely seen as a key factor in growing demand for enhanced performance wood products. This belief lay behind the launch of the WPA Benchmark quality schemes for preservative a flame retardant treated wood in 2012.

More recently the Timber Trades Federation has started to put its weight behind a drive, in partnership with the WPA, to raise standards and make verification of preservative treatment standard supply chain practice.

“Any treater interested in finding out how the treated products they produce can be WPA quality assured can find out more on our website or by calling our office on 01977 558274,” said Mr Ewbank.

Outstanding Contribution – category sponsor: WPA

It is often said that people are the most important asset of any business. After all it is people who determine the customer experience. If the customer experience is good a business will prosper, if it's poor the business will struggle. It really is that simple.

The WPA Outstanding Contribution Award recognises the important role that individual people play in the success of a business operating in the wood protection industry or the industry itself.

This year the award went to Willie Clason for the key role he has played over many years influencing the development of the wood preservation sector on both a national and EU level.

Mr Clason has enjoyed a progressive career in the UK wood treating industry. He joined James Jones, Larbert in 1987 and became a senior manager before joining Metsa Group in 1998 to become managing director of wood preservation specialists Burt Boulton & Haywood. In 2015 he left BBH and established a consultancy business specialising in technical and management services for the European wood preservation industry. 

Mr Clason served as a director of The WPA Ltd from its incorporation in 2006 to 2019 and the board of the British Wood Preserving & Damp-proofing Association board before that. He is a member and past president of WEI, the European association for wood treaters, where his role in recent years was to represent the wood preservation  industry on the best practice guide being developed by the EU to regulate the Industrial Emissions Directive which affects many UK treaters.

“Wille has been a calm hand helping to defend and shape the opportunities for our industry,” said Mr Ewbank. “He is a worthy winner and will forever be remembered for his slogan ‘ Creosote Lives’ which ended every report he gave to the WPA board about EU moves to restrict its use.”

The 2021 WPA Awards will be launched later this year.

The WPA Award trophy
The Wood Hotel, winner of the Wood Protection Project of the Year
James Jones, winner of the Treated Wood Trader of the Year
BSW’s IRO timber won the Innovation Award
WJ Treatments won the Treatment Quality Award
The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Willie Clason