At this year’s Ligna show, a new union of German timber construction companies officially announced its presence on the international scene.

International Engineered Timber Construction (IETC) comprises six companies from northern Germany – Schmees & Lühn, Ing-Holzbau Cordes, Sieveke, Alfred Brockhaus, Holzbau Hunold and Fritz Kathe & Sohn.

The scope of the union is to enter the international market with its timber engineering construction capacities and participate in big projects – something the companies would not have managed on their own. Together, they form a workforce of more than 200 workers.

The UK is one of the markets where IETC is looking to raise its profile. It introduced itself to the UK construction industry at the last Interbuild and 100% Detail to showcase its capabilities.

“It was worthwhile being present in both these fairs,” said Josef Schmees, IETC managing partner. “All the contacts that we are maintaining today have originated there. We have proof that high-performance timber companies such as those united under IETC are in demand in England.”

He added that IETC had also held meetings with architectural practices in London.

Production capabilities

The production capabilities of IETC includes buildings of all sizes, bridges, roof supporting structures and specialised projects such as Scandinavia’s longest and highest wooden rollercoaster Balder in Sweden, or Hannover’s massive exposition roof – the defining feature of the city’s exhibition fairgrounds and always a head-turner during the Ligna exhibition.

The group’s servics include consulting, planning, consotruction, manufacturing, transport, installation and inspection.

A recent project includes a 100m-long Pylonbridge in wood and metal in Poland, while an exhibition hall in the shape of a gecko in Dülmen for a high-class sports cars manufacturer is being built.

Ing-Holzbau Cordes has completed some unusual jobs, including a wooden Trojan horse, while Schmees & Lühn’s projects have included jetties and pontoons, climate towers and suspended bridges, and Fritz Kathe & Sohn has completed Chinese-style pagoda structures, bridges and houses.

Sieveke’s capabilities extend to engineering projects using glulam, while Brockhaus is a timber house specialist and Holzbau Hunold offers a variety of timber engineering services.

“We are trying to get into the English market,” said André Brockhaus, director at Brockhaus. “I think the UK is the best market for IETC. We want to erect houses and engineered roofs.”

Mr Brockhaus said many smaller German companies had the technical knowledge to take on international work but not the organisational capability, hence the need for a union.

Organisational abilities

“Individually, we could do projects of around €1m but together we can do larger projects of around €7-8m. This scale is not possible by one company. Together we can compete with the bigger German construction companies,” he said.

The companies still complete their own individual projects, but under the IETC banner they operate a common quotation system for contracts based on the same computer server. Thus, simultaneous incoming orders which might exceed the maximum capacity of a single company can now be handled.