Operating since 1900, Williams Timber are well known for supplying quality, affordable timber throughout Coffs Harbour and the Mid Coast region. FOCUS had a chat with business owner Andrew Williams, to find out more about the history, present and the future of the business.
Hi Andrew. Tell us about your connection to the Coffs Coast.
I was born on the Coffs Coast and have spent most of my life here, and my family has lived and worked in the area for over 100 years.
After moving away for about 12 years, I found myself back on the Coffs Coast and working for the family business, and then taking it over, five years ago. I love the Coffs Coast, and I haven’t looked back!
Williams Timber is one of the oldest businesses on the Coffs Coast. Where did it all begin?
My family has been involved in the timber industry on the Coffs Coast for over 100 years. Williams Timber Pty Ltd, as it is known now, was formerly known as Leonard J Williams Timber. My grandfather was officially incorporated in 1966; before this he operated as a sole trader. After his return from service in WWII, the timber industry was passed on to him from his father, Malcolm.
How many generations have worked at Williams Timber since its inception, and what is it like being a part of the tradition in 2018?
I’m the third generation at Williams Timber as it is today. It was founded by Leonard J Williams and was then passed on to his two sons Chris and (my father) Shane Williams. It is now run by myself, Andrew Williams.
I feel very proud of the company’s history as a family-run local business, and the fact I get to wake up every day and continue my family’s legacy and carry on a tradition.
It is not very common these days for a business and skill set to be passed down through generations of family members, so it feels like a special thing to be a part of.
Are there any other family members working at Williams Timber?
Yes, my sister Anne-Marie works in the office, which is based in Coffs Harbour.
And our father, Shane, still has some involvement in the business from time to time, always sharing his experience and knowledge with us.
How has Williams Timber changed over the years?
The business originally operated at the Coffs Harbour Jetty and was a major supplier in power poles, girders and bridge timbers in the 1960s and ‘70s, before being moved out on to Wears Rd, Central Bucca in the early 1980s, where it still operates today.
This move gave the company room to grow. A sawmill was constructed in the late 1980s, giving the company the ability to provide a number of different products as the years have rolled on, which in turn has helped the company develop and move forward. There have been several changes in the market, and Williams Timber has always adapted to market trends and provided the highest quality possible to our customers.
How have the practices and the introduction of new technologies changed the way you work with wood?
New machinery has been introduced into the industry over the years, and this allows us to produce wood more efficiently than ever before and in a safer environment, which is very important. It has given us the ability to provide our customer with the option of a more finished product too. Being able to expand our range of product gives us flexibility to provide our customers with a broader range of options.
What have been some of the challenges the industry has faced, and how have you overcome these problems?
The main challenge is having new blood, young people coming through and wanting to learn and have a career in the timber industry. It may not be a career that comes to mind for many young people, or it may not seem as attractive as being a plumber or carpenter to some, but can be just as rewarding. Taking something so raw and turning it into something beautiful that can be used in so many different ways is quite special. The timber industry has been around for a long time, my family can vouch for that, and should continue to develop in to the future. So it’s an industry people should consider getting in to.
What would you say has been the secret of having such a successful business last throughout the generations?
It’s all about trying to build a culture within your company; employing a hardworking, dedicated team of locals, who take pride in their workmanship and place of work, and then taking pride in and supporting them.
Also, building strong relationships with our customers and our suppliers, and letting them know they are respected and appreciated is very important to us.
How important is considering the environment in your line of work?
The environment is extremely important to us. Williams Timber works heavily in the forest; it’s the first part of the process, conducting logging operations in accordance with strict Forestry guidelines and EPA. We are incredibly committed to sustainable forest management for future generations to come.
What are some of the plans for the future of Williams Timber?
There are no particular big changes planned for the future; it’s just trying to maintain our standards and level of quality and customer service, and to beat yesterday’s tally as usual. But you never know what the future can bring!
Where can we find out more?
If you’re looking to build a deck or patio or even start constructing your dream home in Coffs Harbour or surrounding areas, Williams Timber is the only supplier you need for exceptional quality timber!
For more information on the timber products we have in stock, call our friendly team today on 6653 2427.