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5 Minutes with… Brandon Pirie

22nd May 2024

“5 Minutes with…” is an interview series that introduces TRA members to one another and fosters a unified voice within the industry.

We spoke to Brandon Pirie, from Woodbridge, who raised the importance of perseverance and the different paths to getting into the timber engineering industry.

While some choose to enter the industry via the education route, some enter via apprenticeships. Others have crossed paths with those who are already in the industry in former roles; Brandon shares his journey into the timber engineering field and highlights the value of long-term customer partnerships.

What first brought your attention to a career in timber engineering

I previously worked with one of the Woodbridge directors in a FMCG sales role at the early stages of my working life. This director left a career of selling Crème Eggs and latterly cans of Red Bull to pursue an opportunity in the timber trade and never looked back thereafter.

A couple of years later he got in touch and convinced me that timber sales was both an exciting and rock solid career path for the future, so I jumped ship and joined Woodbridge Timber back in October 2021. Unquestionably, my best career move to date!

What has been your proudest moment in your career to date?

Assisting with the phased retirement of our longstanding Sales Director, Brian, who spent 26 successful years with the company and amassed a huge legacy in the UK timber circuit.

Whilst the last few years have been fiercely unpredictable and unprecedented for all of us in the industry, I am also extremely proud to be part of a young and dynamic team of timber traders who have weathered the storm, gained some invaluable experience working throughout a recession, and are ready to drive our business forward as and when the UK housebuilding landscape returns to some level of normalisation.

What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your profession?

Be prepared to work extremely hard, develop tough skin, and remember that you can only control the controllables.

The market will always ultimately dictate supply and price levels based on global availability, but, people buy from people – and the UK timber trade is very much a ‘people’ industry.

As per most sales industries I have previously worked in, it is imperative to understand customer needs and demonstrate an ability to develop long-term customer relationships that provide genuine benefit for both parties.

If you could change just one thing about the construction industry, what would it be and why?

Working in a construction-related trade, I think it is fair to say that we have been slower than most industries to adopt technology into our working practices to drive value for both supplier and customer – particularly regarding forecasting stock requirements in advance.

Post-pandemic, there has been a step change in willingness to invest more heavily into integrating technology to eliminate or significantly reduce wastage and inefficiency; and even develop paperless timber engineering facilities which are managed entirely via iPads!

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?

Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of all time and owner of Berkshire Hathaway who is still in the office every day at 93 years old because he loves the game.

I’ve always admired his long-term investment philosophy and his belief in the power of compound interest over time. Despite having a net worth of $133.5 billion, he still gets breakfast at McDonalds, which I am also partial to from time to time whilst on the road.


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