The final analysis won’t be possible until contacts have been followed up and the number of enquiries that turn into orders has been tallied. But the gut feeling from visitors and exhibitors is that having a dedicated Timber Zone at the Interbuild exhibition this week was a smart move.

Time and again it’s been said that the UK timber industry is a big business that isn’t generally recognised as such in the wider market place. Well the Timber Zone, in the words of TRADA chief executive Andrew Abbott, was designed to help the timber trade punch its weight by really making its presence felt at the UK’s premier construction exhibition. It was flagged up in the NEC with a big banner above and logos stuck to the corridor floors – and it also got a prominent position in the catalogue.

The initiative, which was masterminded by the show organisers in collaboration with TRADA, was a sell-out, with around 40 stands booked, and exhibitors covered the gamut, from treatment and finishing suppliers, to cladding, engineered wood and timber frame manufacturers.

Adding to the Zone’s impact was the number of timber and associated industry stands clustered around the area through, it seems, a combination of exhibitors’ good fortune and judgement.

Another factor felt historically to have hindered the industry is poor technical knowledge of timber among specifiers and end users. The Zone focused here too, with TRADA running a heavily subscribed programme of seminars in the theatre behind its stand and wood. for good using the venue to launch its online timber training ‘Academy’ which can earn users, such as architects and engineers, continuing professional development points. The UK Timber Frame Association also focused on its training packages for timber frame erectors, manufacturers and contractors. Like wood. for good, it reported keen visitor interest.

It’s small wonder that Andrew Abbott believes the Timber Zone is an exercise which should become a fixture at Interbuild, which is reverting to its late-October slot next year. If it does, TTJ will be there!