“If I didn’t start my own business by the time I got to 40, I felt as if I never would,” said David West. Having set himself this deadline, he launched Donington-based Select Timber Products in January 1990 to supply high quality small beads and bespoke timber mouldings. And taking the plunge paid dividends. In the past 15 years the company has grown rapidly, invested heavily and now provides a range of specialist mouldings services to a wide variety of customers.

“We mainly supply within a 100-mile radius of Spalding, but we will go wherever,” said Mr West. “The strength of Select Timber is our flexibility: we can mould what we do into the customers’ requirements.”

This knowledge – backed by a £750,000 spend in the past 12 months – has seen the company branch out from its traditional softwood timber roots into specialist MDF mouldings production.

“We have gone through the years supplying timber and builders’ merchants almost exclusively,” explained Mr West, “as well providing some of our specialist skills to larger manufacturers who want to outsource skills they perceive to be their weaknesses, such as non-standard machining and small bead production.”

This modus operandi has provided Select Timber with its own customers and market place, as well as being a contract machiner and supplier of specialist mouldings to some of the larger competition.

“But,” said Mr West, “we realised that, with the way the market was changing, our timber merchant base was being eroded by the competition buying up the small independent groups. We needed to find another niche we could hack into.”

Two-stage investment

The company had been looking at the MDF mouldings market for 10 years, but had held back because of “one or two” production issues. “We can now do certain elements of the production in a much more efficient way. This is why we have taken the leap and invested the money in MDF.”

The investment has taken place in two stages. Late last year, the company spent £250,000 on a new Homag beam saw, a Weinig Powermat moulder and ancillary equipment to kick-start its MDF mouldings production.

It then installed a burner for the waste, a decision that Mr West says was fuelled by rising energy costs. “We realised we could generate the heat for the drying line from the burning of the waste product.”

The most recent investment of £400,000 has included a combined drying and spraying line, taking the total spend in the past 12 months to around £750,000.

Mr West believes MDF mouldings are a rising market. “Softwood skirtings and architraves are certainly still in the market place but MDF is moving into that sector and eroding some of softwood’s share.”


Not that Select Timber will be forgetting its roots: the two mouldings markets are expected to work in tandem. “The softwood market is forever developing,” said Mr West. “With certain mills shutting down, this creates opportunities for us to pick up some of the slack in that particular market.

“We look at MDF as complementing the market. One development has been a requirement to supply complete packages and MDF is becoming more evident in that – if you can’t supply it, then you are in danger of not picking up the softwood element of that sale as well.”

Mr West said that there are still not too many companies offering non-standard mouldings in both MDF and softwood and Select aims to capitalise. “It gives us a strong position, and we want to let people know there’s a new player in the market.”

With its strong track record of investment and growth, Select Timber will not be resting on its laurels. “It’s all very well being on the right track, but if you stand still, you get run over. It’s a growing business and we have to drive it forward,” said Mr West.

“There is a requirement out there for a business that does what we do. Major builders are requiring national deals, and we will be looking to complement that parcel in supplying the products that suppliers of these national deals are failing to produce themselves.”

For a business that, by its own admission, has been modest about its success, it has a lot to shout about. “If we have a weakness, it’s that people don’t know about us,” added Mr West. “Now is the time to be telling our story.”