Growing Our People: Q & A with Mark Morgan, Tilhill Forestry Area Timber Buyer in the Southern region.
What is your job role within Tilhill Forestry?
I am an Area Timber Buyer for Wales. My main role is ensuring we have enough timber bought for the Newbridge Mill.
I manage quotas with the harvesting managers and provide support to the contract managers as and when I’m needed.
My responsibilities include maintaining a high standard of health and safety, ensuring environmental compliance and credit control on accounts with third party mills, updating and reporting to Regional Manager, Iwan Williams as my line manager and Steve Price as the area timber buyer for a Newbridge and Southampton Mill.
Tell us about your typical day?
One of the aspects of being an Area Timber Buyer is that there is not a typical day, some weeks can alter from day to day.
The first part of the day is usefully done with my trusted companion Jimmy (the dog). This is the part which most Harvesting Managers and Area Timber Buyers enjoy because it’s where we’re most comfortable out in the woods!
A typical day could be:
- Download the maps and details for a possible work site.
- Drive to site, walk and measure the standing crop (mensuration).
- Evaluate the quality of the crop.
- Note down any possible safety or environmental issues that would need addressing and return to the office to start putting together a costing/valuation.
- Once back in the office I convert the mensuration. I like to then calculate the working rate and haulage rates.
- I then work out the breakout of the timber into logs, bars, fencing and chipwood, which then gives us an overall draft costing.
However, the work is so varied that another day can be spent in the office for the complete day catching up on admin and sorting reports. I also need to be out and about with the harvesting managers or contract managers either assessing sites or trying to come up with solutions for operational issues which have arisen.
Visiting third party customers or timber suppliers to keep them updated with supplies or operations for harvesting is also a key factor in this job role.
How did you get into harvesting?
My Dad started a harvesting business in 1971 with two horses and worked with all the variations of BSW Timber until 2009.
I joined the family business on the 1st of September 1996 after 5 years as an agriculture engineer.
I took on all the maintenance of the machinery and became skilled in different roles as a chainsaw operator, skyline operator, harvester operator and forwarder operator gaining a wide variety of operational experience.
I had the opportunity to apply for a contract supervisors role with Tilhill Forestry in the summer of 2008 and joined the company on the 4th of August that year.
I was a supervisor/contracts manager until being promoted in 2012 to a harvesting manager. I was then promoted to an Area Timber Buyer in 2018.
What do you like and not like about working in this industry?
I like working in the outdoors and being out in the woodlands in different areas but it can be very challenging.
My least favourite part is… admin.
Why did you decide to work for Tilhill Forestry?
The family business had a long affiliation with the company and I got on very well with the Harvesting Manager at the time.
What do you like most about the Company?
Tilhill had the foresight to take me on based on my extensive experience rather than just looking for someone with a degree. They have given me a lot of support to get me to where I am today.
They are also very flexible as well as helping me feel supported.
How do you feel Tilhill Forestry contributes to its employees’ professional development?
Tilhill invest time and money in its employees and now we’re part of the BSW group there’s more opportunities to progress within the group.
What sort of changes are occurring in your occupation?
Since we’ve been bought by BSW I’ve had the opportunity to get closer to Newbridge Sawmill enabling me to learn more about the processing of the logs as a result.
The regulations surrounding Health & Safety and the environment are constantly changing and this is always high on the Company agenda.
The market is also changing and evolving faster than I’ve ever seen during my time so far with Tilhill Forestry.
How does a person progress in your field?
Work hard and be willing to chase anything from small parcels to large, contribute in meetings and don’t be afraid to ask questions, there is no such thing as a stupid question apart from the one you ask twice.
What is your advice to anyone wishing to pursue timber harvesting as a career?
An understanding that it’s not a 9 to 5 job. Contractors and hauliers are busy people needing to get the job done, they call a spade a spade and you have to be prepared for that.