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1. How long have you been Non Executive Chairman for Russwood Ltd, and what convinced you to get involved?
I officially took on the role about 18 months ago, but I had been helping John Russell a bit before that. The final decision to become more involved was taken after a site visit to Newtonmore when I met the Russwood employees. After that it was an easy decision.
2. You have a long and industrious career with timber, so far stretching back 40 years. Could you give us a brief resume of your career?
Having graduated in 1974 with an Honours Degree in Forestry from Aberdeen University, I spent all of my working life with one company - James Jones and Sons Ltd. I joined as a management trainee and progressed through the ranks to become a Director of the Company in 1985, and then Joint Managing Director in 1997. After 33 years working with the Company I took early retirement in 2007, to allow me to do more travelling and to pursue other interests. I did do a further three years consultancy work with the Company.
After that period came to an end I was approached to become Chairman of both Wood for Good, the UK generic timber promotion campaign, and the Industry Leadership Group for the Scottish Forest Industry which operates under the auspices of Scottish Enterprise. At about the same time I was also approached by Wood-Mizer LLC to become a Non Executive Director of their business. Based in Indianapolis, USA I was aware of their business activities, and rather like Russwood my committment to them did not come until I visited their operations and facilities in America and Poland. Yet again my decision came through the interaction with their employees.
3. What has been your proudest achievement in you career to date?
I guess my proudest achievement has to be the work I did during my career with James Jones. Not only did we build some very efficient processing facilities, much more importantly we built a great team of people at all levels in the Company. Although I can claim some credit for helping lay the foundations, the credit goes to the team there now, who have capitalised on the opportunity to progress the business.
4. Do you see a bright future for timber, in terms of sustainable construction?
Absolutely! We have the only truly renewable construction material. From the tree which locks up carbon in its structure through photosynthesis, the low carbon footprint left after timber processing, to modern methods of construction such as timber frame which perpetuate the sequestration of carbon, all contribute to the desire for a low carbon economy.
5. What is your vision for Russwood Ltd?
I would like to see Russwood grow its business, but in a way which maintains its reputation for quality and technical support.
6. What would be your advice to someone seeking a career in Forestry today?
There are some great opportunities for a career in both Forestry and the Forest Industries. My advice would be to get a formal qualification and to seek out a job with a company that has a good management training programme. Also maximise your practical experience.
7. You were awarded an OBE in 2005 for your services to Forestry. That must have been a very proud day for you and your family?
It certainly was, but it would not have been possible without the support I received from both my family and my then work colleagues at James Jones. It may be a cliche but individuals rarely achieve recognition without the help from others.
On a lighter note ...
8. I believe you are a big fan of Paolo Nutini. What other artists and music genre do you enjoy listening to?
I enjoy all kinds of music, from classical and musicals through to traditional Scottish music.
9. With the exception of your residence in Dunblane, where is your favourite location in Scotland and why?
Having moved home often as a youngster, the part of the country which has a special place in my heart is Morayshire. It has a great combination of coastline and inland scenery. My wife and I still have many good friends in the area.
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