Working on the Future of Wood

Article excerpt

JOHN Paterson is the wood purchasing manager for Egger UK and director of Egger Forestry Products, both of which form part of the Egger Group, Europe's leading wood-based panel manufacturer. After almost 25 years with the company John reveals the day to day challenges of working in wood and questions whether new biomass subsidies may be bad news for his industry. He is based in Hexham.

What does your role involve? I wear several hats, from wood purchasing manager to director of the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) and director of the UK Forest Products Association.

Day-to-day I'm responsible for our team which sources and purchases virgin timber from forests throughout Scotland and the North of England and wood chip material from local sawmills, which is used in our manufacturing processes at Hexham and Barony in Scotland. I ensure that where we obtain our raw materials from complies with Egger's sustainable wood sourcing policy. I also make sure that our systems and processes are working correctly to enable us to retain the accreditation of various 'eco standards' such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody and ISO 14001.

Egger takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously across the whole life-cycle of its products. It is continually seeking to improve its environmental performance and reduce its impact on the planet. Part of my role is to ensure we achieve that.

I also represent the company on various supply and demand and environmental matters to external organisations such as our suppliers, regulators, legislators and the government. There are many different pieces of UK and EU legislation which impact on our operations and I have to keep on top of them and interpret their impact on the business. Part of that involves meeting regularly with MPs from all party parliamentary groups in Westminster. Another key aspect of my role is gathering and analysing market intelligence. This involves budgeting, forecasting wood purchasing prices and compiling reports for the wider Egger group. Our UK manufacturing plants use 750,000 tonnes of wood per year, some of which is purchased and harvested by Egger Forestry. We also supply wood to construction timber saw mills, fencing and pallet mills and pulp mills.

What is a typical day like? There is no such thing as a typical day. Of course, there are the usual requirements to attend meetings and to deal with enquiries from inside and outside the organisation.

I could be discussing operational issues with the wood purchasing team or meeting with the management of one of our two UK sites one day and reviewing a supply contract with a major harvesting contractor the next.

Egger Forestry harvests over 350,000 cubic metres of timber per year in the North East and Scotland. To make products for the construction, furniture and specification industries we use 20% round wood, 40% woodchip and sawdust and 40% recycled wood.

Egger continually seeks to improve its environmental performance and reduce its impact on the planet. Our philosophy is continual improvement and part of my role is to ensure we achieve that using state of the art technologies and implementing innovative harvesting and timber logistic methods.

I regularly make site visits to meet our timber harvesting contractors out in the field. This is one of my favourite aspects of the job. We work with them to check the quality of the wood to ensure best use. …