Here we are, speeding along into another year, with an improving economy and a range of opportunities for timber to increase its share of the market. At long last there are some genuine signs of solid, steady trading.

So, what we need is to be able to get on with it, working to expand our areas of operation and improving quality, specification and service, thereby reducing our competitors’ chances to take what timber can rightly win, through innovation and experience.

Willmott Dixon’s cross-laminated (CLT) project is a perfect example of how timber can be a winning. Interestingly, they also added one key benefit from using CLT – the site was so quiet compared to a traditional concrete or steel operation, which went down very well with their neighbours.

Yet we somehow manage to become embroiled in issues that hold us back. Instead of running, as finely honed athletes, we are bombarded with needless bureaucracy. Before you see this as the whinge of some dodgy dealer who just wants a quick buck in a strong market, I would like to brag a little and say that through the efforts of our team, we’ve already submitted our RPP returns for 2013 and are nearing our final audits for ISO 9001/14001. We have eight people undergoing their NVQ2 Timber Merchanting (an industry specific qualification).

What remains as a strong irritant are all the things that pile up from petty box ticking. The looming Online Claims Platform from FSC; being handed a non-conformance (we call them ASBOs) because we didn’t use the exact terminology. The embarrassment of then having to ask a highly reputable supplier to add the word "compliant" so that we don’t receive another ASBO, even though they say "no other customers across Europe ask for this".

There seem to be so many things hanging off us, clanking and jangling as we try to sprint down the track. Have you ever tried to explain to a builder that one brand of certified material is actually another, or that 60% means full chain of custody? We do, regularly and know we leave them usually feeling bemused or suspicious.

We make life very hard for ourselves in areas that are incredibly insignificant, thereby allowing competing materials to run past, as we try to untangle another piece of silly paperwork, or look behind in case another ASBO sneaks up on us!

Competing building materials probably suffer from many similar problems, but we’re at an advantage; we are still fairly fresh and able to build our physique into the right shape; we need to stop things from getting in our way.

You can see that we are becoming a force because we’re attracting comments. The TTJ is slowly and steadily hunting down the owner of a website that just focuses on any fires where timber frame is involved. We can make a shrewd guess at who is behind this and it shows that the timber industry is getting in their way. Long may it continue.

By the way, if this piece was written for our website, I’d have had to submit it for clearance first, to gain approval or face another ASBO. There is some sense in that, but often the amendments that we are told to make are numbingly obscure. Surely we have better things to do?

I hope 2014 continues to be kind to all of us and that we all keep on sprinting down the track.