Iam delighted to write the guest column in TTJ’s 140th anniversary edition and to congratulate the magazine on reaching this significant milestone.

All organisations have to adapt to the challenge of change or die. Businesses are either going forwards or backwards – there is no standing still!

TTJ is part of an industry with a great heritage dating back to William Caxton, who set up the first press in London in 1476. TTJ has had to adapt to change in production techniques, having to manage the transition from manually-set printing plates to journalist input and digital printing, and the reader has had to adapt to the move from the weekly magazine to the current digital age, with combined hard copy and digital versions.

The timber industry also has a great heritage, trading in one of mankind’s earliest building materials. Many companies, either directly or through component parts, trace their foundation to the 18th and 19th centuries. The trade has had to adapt significantly over the 140 years that TTJ has been in operation and the magazine has reported on, and promoted, many of these changes.

In June I will have been in the industry for 40 years and I have witnessed the changes in the structure of the trade, the loss through merger or bankruptcy of many of the old, often family, businesses, the breakdown of the traditional structures in the trade and the growth through aggressive acquisition of the timber and builders merchant chains.

One area championed by TTJ over the years has been promotion of timber as the material with the best environmental credentials. This is such an important strength now that climate change is at the top of both political and corporate agendas.

In one respect this campaign has been successful. The industry does accept the need to demonstrate that sources of timber harvest are legal and sustainable, so the excellent story about timber and timber products, the renewable crop, the carbon capture and the low embodied energy, can be told.

In another respect this has failed. While TTJ speaks for the whole industry, there are still a plethora of trade bodies speaking with slightly different voices. We also still struggle to adequately fund a campaign to promote the excellent timber story so as to be heard above the noise from our competitors – brick, steel and concrete.

Another area that has been extremely well supported by TTJ has been the training of young people. While there have been significant changes in how training and education are delivered – no longer block release away from work – the importance is as great now as at any time in the past.

As new timber-based products stretch ever wider the uses to which wood fibre can be put, it is important that we have young people with the technical knowledge of the products and the strengths and limitations of the raw material, to ensure that it is sold and used efficiently.

Where will TTJ be in another 140 years? Where, indeed, will the timber industry be? Perhaps this is a theme for another guest column.

I wish TTJ all the best for the next 140 years and every success in continuing to report on, and promote, the material, in all its many forms and uses, that we love so!