Timber is experiencing a surge in its popularity. Its aesthetic appeal combined with an ever increasing focus on sustainability, means architects are considering timber more than they have at any time during the last few decades. But there’s a problem: many architects are unfamiliar with timber and by their own admission, lack the necessary knowledge to specify it more frequently. Fifty-two per cent of respondents to Saint-Gobain’s own construction industry survey said they needed to be more informed about timber.

With our expertise, this knowledge gap presents the industry with an ideal opportunity to ensure timber is seen as the material of choice, but we continue to miss this chance. Put simply, too many companies are continuing to sell pieces of wood and not the expertise that makes its specification a reality.

Expert advice is the real benefit we bring to our customers and for architects it can make the difference between the specification of timber or an alternative building material. Yet in my opinion, our industry has failed to recognise this and, although some suppliers and external training bodies provide good training programmes, the amount of training the industry provides is disproportionately small in relation to its size.

In short, the industry has failed to invest in the comprehensive employee training programmes needed to ensure we can deliver the service specifiers desire. This means we are also failing to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the emergence of engineered timber products which require a technical sell.

We have a responsibility to help our customers make the most informed choices regarding timber specification and to help them make their projects a reality. If, as an industry, we continue to focus on selling wood instead of providing expertise and solutions we will lose out to competitor building materials and we will only have ourselves to blame.