Philip Underwood, the departing president of the Timber Trade Federation, is a keen horseman and spends his spare time galloping – or at least cantering – over the fields and hedges of East Anglia. But when he climbed into the saddle at the TTF two years ago, nothing can have prepared him for the challenging ride ahead. It’s been one of the most dramatic periods of change in the Federation’s history and, as you’d expect of any long-established, traditional organisation, it did its fair share of bucking and rearing as new hands on the reins tried to steer it in a different direction.

But after two years of Philip Underwood’s presidency, backed, he fully acknowledges, by the dynamic leadership of TTF director-general Paul Martin, the enthusiastic input of his team and support of members, a more modern, marketing-oriented, politically and public relations-aware organisation has emerged.

The TTF is now in regular contact with government, defending the industry’s corner and promoting its interests. It was instrumental in the development of the wood. for good campaign and is more ‘user-friendly’ as far as the media is concerned (including TTJ!). And the final feather in the cap of Philip Underwood’s presidency was the TTF Code of Conduct, which makes it a positive marketing advantage to be a Federation member.

Now Geoff Rhodes, marketing and sales director of Weyerhaeuser Europe, is picking up where Philip Underwood left off. Every bit as much an enthusiastic advocate for timber, he has already laid out some of his plans and is setting the TTF and the industry some ambitious goals. He wants to work with other trade bodies to strengthen timber’s voice with government and to make the TTF even more marketing and media savvy, with the creation of a major timber products photo library for starters. Perhaps most significantly, he wants the TTF and its members to step up their efforts to attract talented new blood into the industry. It all sounds like good stuff.

So in the edition we run a joint interview with these presidents past and present, TTJ would like to congratulate the former on the past two years, and wish the best of luck to the latter for the next two!