Diamonds and Marthall, in it Together!
January 9th, 2020
Marthall has held a relation ship with A Diamond & Son saw mill for 30 years. They are is based in the town of Colraine in Northern Ireland and
they were established by Andrew Diamond in 1939. It is now owned and run by Leo, Colm Diamond and several other family members. It is still a
family run business to this very day. Marthall didn’t come on board until 1990.
Back in the Mid 80’s Dave Godsmark worked for Whites Timber. Dave knew of Diamonds but they were not White’s main supplier. In 1988 White’s closed their timber division and Dave was made redundant. He moved to Smith’s (Cheadle Ltd) and took the Diamond’s connection with him. In 1990 Dave left Smiths. A meeting with George Fernyhough meant Bill Riley was introduced to Dave and the seed was sown for Marthall Tree Products. Bill took a leap of faith and invested in this start up business with his land and his wallet.
On the 1st of October 1990 Marthall Tree Products opened its telephone lines and its door to a tiny office located in what is now the rear of the yard but at the time was actually based within the Nursery for Fairway Landscapes. There was no timber in stock like there is today. Dave was simply a middle man who ordered timber from Diamond’s and it was delivered direct to site. Three years later in 1993 recession hit and customers who ordered full loads were now ’tightening their belts’ and ordering half loads. Ultimately this resulted in phone calls to Dave asking if he had any posts or rails in stock so they could finish their jobs. Leo Diamond flew over from Northern Ireland to listen to Dave’s plans to open a small timber yard to meet this new demand. Leo took a huge risk, and many sleepless nights followed, but he provided the first load into the new yard with a payment grace period to allow this idea to get off the ground. To this day he says it the best decision he ever made.
So in 1993 Marthall started stocking timber from Diamonds saw mill as well as offering direct loads. Just four sizes were available. 8ft 4 x 4, 6ft Feather edge, 87 x 38 rails and 450mm pegs. Even today these are still some of our most popular lines. From 1997 until 2000 Dave would close the ‘yard’ twice a day and drive the bus around Mobberley. In 2000 the bus contract ended. It was also getting busier at Marthall and he would often find people climbing over the gates to get in! The decision was made to expand the business. The yard was organised using the letters of the alphabet and based loosely around the layout of the yard at Diamonds.. The timber range was expanded but not all the letters were used. I’m not sure Dave ever expected the level of growth that he got and we now have several coding systems thanks to the alphabet only having 26 letters in it! The Northern Ireland Government actually interviewed Dave on two separate occasions to ensure he was going to ‘grow the turnover of the business’ due to the sums of money involved; and the volatile Northern Ireland economy, and the uncertainty in the economy due to the troubles at the time. New staff were brought in at Marthall and at Diamonds, the numbers have grown steadily ever since. Diamonds opened their own shop in Easter 2005.Marthall now has a team of 15 and there are 50 members of staff at Diamonds.
Diamonds are an environmentally conscious timber suppliers and their timber is sourced from forests which comply with the FSC ® standards on sustainability. They are also members of Confor, which confirms they are a company that promotes sustainable forestry and low-carbon businesses. They actively seek out ways to save energy and recycle. Sawdust and shavings are used for animal bedding, logs for firewood, bark as garden mulch and chippings for fuel and wood fibre products. The quality of the cutting is down to tight quality control measures and state of the art machinery. Diamonds purchased a completely bespoke saw mill, to meet their requirements in 2008 from a French company and is constantly maintained to high standard.
Over the years we have looked at the timber on offer from other mills and it doesn’t really come close. There have even been occasions where our rough sawn timbers have been mistakenly identified by customers as smooth as the timbers are cut so cleanly. You won’t find a four way weather on a gate post cut as neatly as on Diamonds, trust me we have tried. You could almost say we ‘shot ourselves in the foot’ a bit as we have spent the last two years sourcing new mills to meet our ever growing demand. In 2015 Diamonds invested heavily in a new feather edge line to help meet our demands. Last year we sold over 210,000 green treated 1.8m feather edge boards! We receive on average 4-5 loads per week sometimes six. Each load holds approx. 34 cubic meters. Regular skype calls help to iron out any issues and Leo is very forgiving when we require last minute additions and has always accommodated us where physically possible.
The majority of the timber is sourced from homegrown woodland in Northern Ireland, organised into log piles of various sizes before being sent into the mill to be cut into lengths. It is then placed into a pressure treatment tank. It is treated with Koppers to User Class 4 (ground contact) in most cases with the odd item treated to UC3 (above ground use). These treatment tanks can hold 23 cubic metres of timber per cycle. Diamonds have two tanks, the smaller tank holds 18 cubic meters which equates to 1.5 artic loads. Each cycle takes approximately 4 hrs. The timber is then left to dry for a day before being transported over seas via ferry to our yard.
So now you have a little bit of ‘behind the scenes’ information you can see how both Marthall & Diamond’s have always strived to deliver a fantastic product at a realistic price, which has always been backed up by great customer service. On occasion we all make the odd mistake but overall we work hard to ensure you return to us and keep us all in a job, at Marthall’s and at Diamond’s. There are real people behind every sale who genuinely care, who show real commitment and stand by the companies they work for. It’s a long relationship that we hope will continue for many years to come.
From Everyone at Marthall & Diamonds’
2019 Marthall News Letter
December 16th, 2019
Can you believe it’s that time of year again? As well as wanting to throttle all the radio presenters because they are playing the same Christmas music
over and over, you are also filled with mince pies and anticipation for the wonderful Marthall newsletter. Well it’s here, it’s in your hands so sit
down, relax, pour yourself a drink and be ready for the soul filling thrill of the following text.
Some of you may have realised our new shop has now been up and running for almost two years! Despite this we still get customers coming in “wow this has changed how long has this been up?” They like to recall their previous visits even if it’s as far back as 20 years ago when you entered via the rear gates and popped your head into a little hole in the wall. It’s hard to believe in 2020 we will be celebrating our 30-year anniversary. Marthall started as a one-man band sat in a leaky caravan taking telephone calls for full loads direct to site from the mill, effectively a middleman. It was so quiet in those days that a full game of cricket could be played between telephone calls and two bus runs around Mobberley could be done, one in the morning and one mid-afternoon. Over the years Marthall has grown but the buses are still here; be it in small glass cabinets dotted throughout the building.
Our managing director Dave can still be found three days a week. We keep him contained to the back office, we feed and water him and offer him enrichment and entertainment throughout the day. His impressive head for figures is still required and he mainly operates on a semi-retired basis doing the day to day admin but his days on the front line are over. From time to time he will pop down to pay us all a visit. Sometimes he requests a sandwich from the local bakery, occasionally he has a pile of paperwork for us and once in a while he will bring a gift. Now by gift I don’t mean a gift you would actually want to receive. Over the years these ‘gifts’ have included a variety of out of date food, French school books and last but by no means least calendars. Now I know some of you are already giggling about the latter. The yearly calendars have gone from strength to strength. He likes calendars and posters that will cause customers to stop and chat, or in the case of the Margaret Thatcher poster in 2016 rant and rave. Our walls have been home to abandoned mattresses (which was the same mattress chucked out of a van and photographed 12 times), derelict pubs and decommissioned prisons. During 2019 we were informed by a rather disappointed Dave that the President Assad calendar was not available. He couldn’t decide between his other choices so he had splashed out and bought both. For the past twelve months we have had the company of Putin and his naked chest and tan-tastic Donald Trump. Emma is not overly impressed as they are located directly behind her! To combat this rather epic gifting failure we have started to hold an annual spring open day each year. Our gift to you. This open day allows us to offer discounts, demonstrations, a free raffle and most importantly free food. In 2020 we will be holding an even grander version of this event as we will be celebrating 30 years in business. It will be held later in the year. From September 28th until October 2nd 2020 we will be offering food and drink all week. There will be special offers in store and an amazing raffle with fantastic prizes including cash, tools and a top prize of £1000 credit to spend*. Trade customers could be in with a chance to win the top prize provided they are on our computer system. So, make sure you hand us your business card and ask to be officially added if you’re not already on. You will operate on a PAYG basis as normal. Information will be handed out for additional celebrations to be held around this time. These include a ride down the River Mersey on The Ferry complete with food, dancing and most importantly a bar! Some of our customers will also be invited on a country manor retreat, wined and dined, and fully entertained in our final celebration. So, make a note in your diary so you can join in the celebrations.
You may have noticed a new product on display in our yard and shop. We are now a stockist for Dura post. This revolutionary metal post system is strong and light. No one likes to hauling heavy concrete around; this includes our yard team. It is available in a range of colours including the ever popular grey. I bet you can’t drive down a single street without seeing dark grey somewhere, whether it be a painted fence or grey PVC windows, whether it’s here to stay who knows but you can rest assured I don’t think it will date as quickly as aertex ceilings and shag pile carpets. This new product is great for customers who worry about rotting timber posts but aren’t too keen on the aesthetics of concrete. More information can be found on our website and in our shop. We can also offer a metal post system for stock fencing. Versalok is quick and easy to install and comes with a warranty. And here beings the next chapter……… WARRANTIES!
Now the word warranty has been the thorn in the side of the Marthall staff over the last 18 months. Emma and young Dave have worked tirelessly to find new suppliers to meet the ever-growing demand on our stock. It has been a thankless task and one that is still very much ongoing. We have pushed hard with suppliers and have been met with quite a lot of resistance. It all began when Dave Senior went out with our tender for round material in October 2018. With the tender he had written a strongly worded letter requesting a 10- or 15-year warranty that mills would uphold without us having to ‘stand on our heads whilst singing a merry song’. Emma contacted one company on the hunt for the elusive peeled posts to be met with quite the opposition to our enquiry. This was a company we hadn’t even tendered to originally but they had seen the letter and upon hearing our name refused to even entertain supplying us. Now we do not know if this was due to the way in which the letter had been written or simply the fact that like a lot of suppliers they would not stand by their treatment and are happy to tell their customers to ‘get lost’ if there is a problem.
Over the year we have brought on new suppliers for rounds. They will offer a warranty but round material in general is very much in short supply. This is down to a couple of factors. Some trees have been left to grow on for larger logs thus leaving a shortfall of logs for small material especially 50mm, we even ventured as far as Russia for stock, but we are not willing to sacrifice quality just to have stock. The second major factor is that of biomass plants. Growers are getting more for the logs by sending them for chipping, and it is much less effort on their part. We even looked into 30-year life and creosoted to enable us to offer an alternative. Emma asked the question. If they have a 30-year life expectancy what warranty to can you offer? 10 years perhaps 20? NO not a single year, no warranty what so ever. So, if you do need us to source these posts for you it can be done but you will have no protection from the mills or us on these. Emma has now taken on promoting the new Dura & Versalok metal post systems as these do come with a 30-year warranty. Decreasing after the initial 10 years but still more than some suppliers will offer. The very end of 2019 we finally had a break through and have managed to bring on board new round timber suppliers. Most lines are back in stock with just a few exceptions.
We have also had to branch out to new mills for our square sawn timbers. This predominantly comes from Diamond’s saw mill and will continue to do so when possible. We have always grown alongside each other over the last 30 years but now during peak season the supply is not enough. We have forged new relationships with other British mills. Once again, the overriding factor was treatment and warranty when we started looking. Every mill we approached would only offer UC3 treatment for rails. UC3 treatment is adequate for timbers used above ground. Any timbers that come into the contact with the ground should be treated to UC4. All the mills contacted would not treat UC4 unless it was incised (Small cuts in the timber to force the treatment in deeper) we are very aware that this is not always aesthetically pleasing and even if we went ahead with UC4 treatment, they would not warranty the timber anyway. It was with heavy hearts that from October 2019 we could no longer offer a warranty on our rails. Our rails are now being sourced from a couple of mills and some are treated to UC3. We have tried where we can to keep timbers that are often used as edging or gravel boards with Diamonds and the UC4 treatment but at peak times this is no longer possible. We are still getting all our square sawn and planed posts from Diamond’s to enable us to continue to offer a warranty on these. Rest assured we did our absolute best to resolve this issue but until mills are willing to back up their products & treatment it’s just not possible.
Our sheet materials continue to grow, OSB & trailer board are proving successful and will be staying. We are also looking to trial a pressure treated plywood. Yes, you read that right. This is something that has been in a trial phase with our manufacturer for quite a while. This new product comes with a 15-year warranty against delamination and fungal and xylohague insect attack. We think this will be a product to get excited about. Samples and more information can be found on our counter. Emma has also buried an unsealed piece in our planter outside so we can conduct our own, if a little unscientific experiment.
Horse netting is now a strong seller and we stock both the 1.07m high and 1.2m high. Emma’s advice on the dangers of using sheep netting around horses has been drummed into all she meets. Her own personal collection of horses has grown by one. Colin, her ever suffering husband, has been handed the care of the miniature Shetland on behalf of their two-year-old daughter. So, if you need advice on anything horse related including fencing, arenas and electric fencing our staff have the practical as well as the theoretical knowledge. Being able to contain animals or the more colourful terminology ‘zap the bastards’ is Emma’s specialty and she stresses that in most cases a lack of power at the fence is not always an issue with the energiser. It can be something as simple as poor earthing causing a problem.
We have started to bring some of our purlins in graded C16, and many of the fixing in our shop are compliant to many building regulations. New lines are added when the need arises. If you can’t see what you are after please ask you may just have missed it. We have requested our gate furniture manufacturer makes smaller premium black hinges as this range is becoming more popular and they currently start at 18”. You will notice new fixings coming on board that eliminate the use of wall plugs. This is to aid with new building regulations and associated fire risks. A lot of them are also much quicker to fit.
From time to time we will phase out older lines that are slow sellers or just not worth stocking anymore. Recent additions to this include chestnut fencing, willow & hazel hurdles and 100mm wide pointed pales. We have tried to phase out Boss Dave, (he thinks it’s just a gentle push into retirement) but he just keeps turning up every Monday so for those of you that need him he is around. A lot of the general admin can now be resolved by several members of office staff so if you’re missing an invoice or just wish to pay off your account just give them a call or pop into the shop. Most people are now aware that Boss Dave no longer does pricing and sales, it’s not safe to release him on the general public anymore. The last time he got out he insisted Emma sell a copy of the Isle Of Man journey planner & timetable for the bargain price of £2. In the end Julian Hopley took pity on Emma’s rather desperate situation and brought the bloody thing!
Our panel and gate range now include the Slemish and Lurig panels. These panels are great for sharing neighbours as they are the same both sides and are of a modern contemporary style. Venetian fencing is still proving to be one of the most popular styles of fencing and we offer a range of batons. Pictures for inspiration can be found on our garden inspirations page or the ever-popular Pinterest. Our staff will continue to translate horizontal hand gestures and the other wonderful ways in which you have all tried to describe Venetian fencing. We can calculate what you need too. If you are keen to work it out yourself but are unsure of the math pop onto our how too guides on the website. There are loads of guides, including hanging a gate, working out decking and fixing cedar shingles.
Our team has grown again. Ruth started in Jan of 2019, having joined us from Tarmac and has boosted our counter team, she has placed herself nicely to the right next to Emma creating a boy girl divide but for good reasons. Whilst typing this letter Colin and Tom were attempting to grind her down and join the ‘Marthall Cup’ i.e. Fantasy football! The poor girl doesn’t realise they only want her to play as the looser buys a round of drinks at the staff Christmas do. Hang on Young Dave is now joining in, think I need to rescue her…….
Alan in aggregates is still semi-retired and is now enjoying exploring the UK in his motor home on his days off. Which also means that Ruth has been thrust into the role of making brews when Alan isn’t in. Having known Alan over 30 years, she worked with him whilst at Tarmac, she is ‘Alan trained’ in the making of brews hot enough that even a lit match would think its arse in on fire. Tom is trying and doing rather well at filling his enormous shoes. (Well not literally because if you have seen the size of Tom you would know his feet are much bigger than Alan’s). Tom has spent some of his time based on the counter talking to you lovely lot about aggregates. It has been a record year for them. We are still surprised how many people are unaware we do aggregates. Alan is still adamant that “Marthall sells aggregates and sometimes a bit of timber.”
The yard team is now boosted by Shane and Stuart. They have all been seduced by our hot & cold drinks and chocolate bars, all have had to deal with the dreaded snack bill and Ruth is rather upset at what she feels is a serious lack of weight loss. We even set up a diet club. First to lose a stone gets a tenner off everyone else, all staff have gained weight since the club began! Tom is the worst culprit; he has gone to extreme lengths to hide his Wednesday binge sessions when Catrina is off for the day. The evidence is badly hidden upon her return every Thursday morning; the entertainment continues with a weight loss domestic when she discovers the remains of a Boons breakfast wrap. Adam has now left to start a new career so Tom can safely say he is at least a foot taller than all the staff.
Young Dave has been running the transport for the last year and we have seen a further improvement in delivery coordination and communication with customers. We still cannot offer timed delivery slots as they don’t always work in well and actually cause us problems fitting in the most deliveries we can. You can call to request a rough ETA on your delivery on the day but please don’t hold us to ransom on it. Any changes or additions to deliveries must be made no later than 48 hrs before as your order will have been picked and banded by our yard team. We are getting stricter on this so please don’t be surprised if we say it’s not possible. Now the most exciting thing I have to tell you is this. A NEW TRUCK. Yes, you read that right we are adding a new truck to our fleet. This new vehicle will be 20 tonnes with a crane. This additional vehicle will give us and our two fantastic drivers more flexibility when planning the runs for each day. It will also have sides which we hope will enable us to deliver items that we couldn’t previously. Unlike other leading competitors let’s call them T to the P & Mr. J (its less colourful than some of the names we have heard to describe them, and doesn’t leave us open to slander) we do not build transportation costs into the costs of our goods so if you are collecting you are not penalised.
Now I’m going to talk about a subject that is close to everyone’s hearts and it’s a bit of a touchy one. Our discount structures. (I can literally feel you glaring at the page right now and keen to read on). We have spent the last two years getting much stricter with our discount. We have implemented an inflated public price list to further increase the gap between trade and general public. 40 % off for ‘every man and his dog’ is now very much a thing of the past. We have asked many of our returning trade customers to be placed onto our system on a PAYG basis to ensure they get the discount they are entitled too but more importantly we can help you find missing invoices, and help with general enquiries more easily. We have noticed an increase in customers trying to use other people’s accounts for discounts, even making out that you have sent them in on your behalf. We do our upmost to intercept these but if you wish to place a password on your account or advise us that no one other than you and your team can use your discount please do get in touch. We will not allow customers to place goods on to a credit account without your express permission. I can’t stress enough how important it is to hand over your account name, whether it be a credit or PAYG account and even if you have been coming in for years. Our newer members of staff may not be aware of your account name and Emma fully admits that despite being here almost 8 years she still can’t put names to faces! Changes are going to be implemented with our new price lists and pricing structure and you will miss out if you don’t, so please let us know who you are when you come in or call us.
The general public price list will become a set but competitive price. You may be a member of the public reading this letter and you may have been coming to us for years as a loyal customer. First of all, I would like to thank you for this. Some of you may worry this new price list means you are missing out on the old discount structure. We have based the new fixed prices taking into account what prices used to be on the old discount structure so you can be assured the fixed prices are fair and competitive. Trade customers will have to be on our computer system to receive their rates, and hand over their details on each and every visit or it will automatically default to the public prices. So, if you have been coming to us for years it doesn’t necessarily mean you have been added to the computer’s data base so please check on your next visit. There will now be, what we feel is a fair difference between the public and trade. That difference is there for a reason. Self-employed trades men and women do not get paid holidays, sick pay, pension contributions or expenses paid. They have to cover the costs of running larger vehicles, public liability insurance as well as keeping themselves equipped with tools. That difference between the public and trade prices reflect some of the above. Our price lists are available to view on our website but the trade price list is password protected. If you are on our computer system as trade, we can give you the password, just give us a call. The prices will show as set prices so you don’t have to deduct percentages like before. Public & Trade nice and simple. All you have to do is add VAT.
Two members of staff are approaching ten years’ service at Marthall. Colin and Alan started just a couple of months apart. Frank and our driver Steven also celebrated 10 years of service with us during 2019. We believe it is of great benefit to our customers to see the same faces and build relationships with our staff. Although some of you may suffer some terrible jokes and the odd ribbing from some of our team, we hope that you enjoy the reliability that comes with experienced staff members, those moments when we spot something that’s out of the norm for you can be just as helpful as the everyday service you receive at the counter, helping you avoid mistakes and costly errors. I hope you will join me in congratulating them. Emma is a familiar face at our counter but if you like dealing with her directly please be aware she is no longer in on a Tuesday but any of our other staff are more than happy to help you.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this year’s newsletter. I know some of you requested us to hark back to the old days of our very controversial newsletter “not for snowflakes” as it was put to me on a November afternoon. I’m sorry to say in the last three years we have had to rein it in a bit but we have added in a good dollop of humour to try and fill the void. You never know next year’s calendar might just provide a glimmer of the hidden thoughts and humour of our managing director ready for another year of debate at the counter. So, if you have any ideas drop us a message and I will do my best to past them on to Boss Dave. Everyone at Marthall wishes you and your families very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
No Such Thing as WBP Plywood (Water Boil Proof)
May 21st, 2019
From time to time our esteemed managing director will pop down from the rear office and pay the staff a visit. Five times out of ten it will be to
request food, my favourite being the trip to our semi local bakery in Mobberley, or very occasionally he will leave rather interesting articles or
the Fencing News magazine on my desk. On this particular occasion he left me an article which I have decided is too important not to share.
Jim Coulson of TFT Woodexperts Ltd and Wood Technology Society spoke plainly about the lack of knowledge on the term WBP Plywood stating it is overused and incorrectly used by the whole of the timber trade including builders, architects, and specifiers. I myself have been working at Marthall just shy of 7 years and it is a term I hear regularly along with the term tanalised; but we will leave the latter for another day. As Jim says people use the term WPB plywood to try and get across that they want a “good all purpose plywood that wont give me problems” and because we at Marthall understand what they are ‘getting at’ we sometimes don't take the time to correct people and actually get a deeper understanding of the standard they actually need it to meet and the application it is being used for. You may have noticed we have already tried to help our customers gain a greater understanding of plywood by visiting the timber gallery page. We have listed information on the grading & structural standards of plywood.
Rather than me continuing my epic speech I have attached the article I’m talking about so you can have a read.
2018 Marthall Tree Products Newsletter
January 4th, 2019
Firstly, everyone at Marthall would like to wish you a Happy New year and we hope you all had an enjoyable and not too stressful Christmas. So now we
are heading into the depths of winter, spirits can plummet, days are short and we all feel a bit fat. I thought I’d write this newsletter so you can
stick the kettle on, cosy up and enjoy a bit of a read. Or you can throw it away and just enjoy being forced to watch Dancing on Ice, whatever floats
Talking of boats that brings me onto my first topic. As many of you know some of our peeled and round material comes from the Baltics. We approached all our usual mills and some new ones with our tender enquiry for 2019. We very quickly became aware of a lack of material. We made the decision to buy our entire (estimated) years requirements up front. We requested all our mills deliver everything before Christmas to try and ensure a good level of stock to meet demand. However, there are issues with 8ft 3-4 inch peeled. There is a lack of material for 5ft6 & 6ft’s so 8ft aren’t really getting a look in at the moment by producers. We have another UK mill available for those that are desperate but the price and quality is not favourable and the lead time is not quick.
I don’t really wish to get into politics in this newsletter but as we are all aware the doom and gloom, as spun by our wonderful British media, that Brexit is looming. Most of us at Marthall feel it’s going to be a millennium bug moment. The end of the world is nigh then the clock will strike midnight and oh look the world hasn’t fallen apart and we are all still alive. So, by now some of you might be moaning and talking back to this bit of paper in your hand with your view on it but what I really want to say is that Marthall will still be here, the staff will still be here and we will be doing our upmost to continue to provide you with timber! This now leads nicely onto my next topic (I bet your loving how I’m making this letter flow).
Some of you may have seen the beautiful crafted notice displayed in several places on our counter. It is a pre-warning of price increases. Price increases that we will not be able to absorb. I can assure you these prices rises are not due to Brexit but due to a genuine shortage of logs. Log auction prices are going up and up thanks to biomass plants buying anything they can get their hands on. The larger logs used for sleepers are particularly effected. Behind the scenes there was an initial panic that rises could be as much as 20% but as time has gone on, we predict they could be somewhere between 5-10% but don’t hold me too it! We recently had a small price increase in November of 2018. We absorbed this for two weeks to allow a transitional period to take effect but with another one due that could potentially be more than 5% the new prices will be effective immediately and no quotes done before the increase will be honoured. This letter is your chance to warn your customers and plan ahead as best you can.
UPDATE - You can now rest assured we received just a 5% increase which we have managed to absorb! - Honestly we do try our hardest to keep prices down.
To try and help with the shortage on the larger logs used for sleepers we currently have a Value Sleeper available. It is treated to UC4 the same as our main sleeper stocks but its not quite as ‘pretty’, the edges are not as clean or sharp, however it is about £3 cheaper! This is a trial item and if you want it to stay please buy it.
Let me pop in a more uplifting paragraph or I don’t think you will continue reading. We now have a man dedicated to running transport. Young Dave is now on hand to answer all your transport questions and to plan in your delivery. Tighter control on this means we will fit in more deliveries. Customers who require a phone call when we are on our way will now get them. In general communications regarding transport will be better. We still cannot offer timed slots and any changes or add ons to orders must be done 48hrs beforehand, from the new year this will be strictly adhered too. This is not because we are trying to be awkward but because your order has been picked and banded and its extremely time consuming to un-band, repick and then restock the changes. Niall has now past his test and can drive the truck which means it can stay on the road when Steven is on holiday. Our delivery charges are starting to cover three quarters of the cost of running the trucks so there is a FAINT whisper of another truck. We do still get the intake of breath when we inform people of the delivery charge but remember we do not build it into the cost of our goods so those of you who collect are not being stung with a higher price.
Our new website is LIVE!!!!!!! We have been discussing a new website for a while and Emma grabbed hold of the idea and ran with it. The old website address www.marthall.net will divert you to the new site or you can use www.marthalltree.com. Try not to accidently type Marshalls tree as Tom in our office did to discover a rather good tree puller for sale. The new website contains galleries for many of our products, price lists and every so handy how too guides. These guides will help you hang a gate or calculate timbers required for a picket fence. We now have the trade price list on there too. It is password protected and you must be on our computer system to be given the password. By this we mean we have all your details on file not that you have been in a few times and purchased from us. Please give us a call and we can confirm if you are on file or if you need to be added. The public price list is on there too.
Our new shop has been up and running for a year now; I know time flies doesn’t it. In that year we have seen Emma get bigger, and she hopes smaller again, popping out the next generation of Marthall staff. Apart from babies we have also seen an uplift in sales of fixings, tools and gate furniture. We believe this is down to the fact you can now find everything easily and it is all clearly labelled. The shop is looking good thanks to Katriona the newest member of our team. If there is an item we don’t have we will always consider stocking it if we get asked for it enough so if you can’t see what your after and it’s something you would use regularly please tell us. (Apart from power tools that would be like trying to get our managing director to give up his love of busses)
Our brew machine & snacks are proving very popular as is our new loo. The new layout on the counter means you get served quicker as the staff have almost everything they need in one place. Our trollies, baskets and electronic doors are making life easier for you all too. The foot fall has increased dramatically and our quiet times, September to Jan, are no longer quiet as we are still serving up to 80 people a day! These busier days means Tom no longer has the time to secretly surround Colin’s & Emma’s car with bulk bags late in the afternoon in revenge for a kick me sign placed onto his back. And yes, we had locked up, set the alarm, shut away the stacker trucks & it was raining when we walked out to be greeted with this wonderful prank. Honestly its can be like a sitcom at times! I digress…
Our open day event was such a success we have decided to run it every year. The free food and special offers went down very well and I think you all preferred it over attempting to get a free pencil from Emma at the counter! Anyone who has manged that we salute you!
There have been discussions on a quick till system for our busiest days/hours. It would mean anyone who has pre-ordered and paid/placed their order on account can collect their yard ticket very quickly. However, no changes to the order will be permitted at the quick till as that defeats the idea of doing it. We would welcome your views on this as it’s a 50/50 split on doing this.
We have also discussed changing our hours of work in summer and winter. Earlier starts in the summer but an earlier close in the winter. A decision will be made before winter 2019 in preparation for the following year.
Alan is now semi-retired and working three days per week with Tom joining him in the aggregates department and running it alongside him in preparation for filling his enormous shoes in a few years’ time. We will see a new face starting. Her name is Ruth and she will be joining us from Tarmac. When Alan does retire Tom will go full time into the aggregate’s office with Ruth as additional help and she will also be working on the counter.
Right back to something a little less light hearted. Timber, timber, timber as that is what we are about. We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to find additional saw mills to provide us with square sawn timber. We currently receive about five loads from Diamond saw mills per week, some times six, but we know this is not enough. Diamonds have been with us for 25 years but have reached their cutting capacity despite putting in a brand-new feather edge line at the cost of over one million pounds just for us! This means we are now considering other mills, which is proving to be trickier than you would think. We know you all come to us because of the quality of our timber. It is cut cleaner than any other timber we have come across and we treat most of our rails for ground contact as we know a lot of them get used for gravel boards or edging boards. Emma has been in conversations with no less than seven mills. We can’t find another mill who is prepared to treat rails or posts to UC4 unless they are incised or they are redwood. We are very aware that an incised rail or post is not as aesthetically pleasing and redwood is expensive. This means we are not willing to compromise on incised timbers that we know are used in garden applications such as 100 x 100. We have decided to trial the option of motorway/paddock posts with incising as we believe on most occasions’ the aesthetics are less important. Many mills cannot cut the 4ww on their gate posts properly so that’s gate posts out. Finally, most are not prepared to offer any sort of warranty against their timber, and those that are want them incised or redwood. Some offer a fifteen-year life expectancy but back it up with no warranty what so ever, kind of pointless in our eyes. We even found this to be the case with thirty-five-year life and creosoted. A life expectancy with absolutely no back up for us, and ultimately you, just seems a bit ridiculous. So, let’s say, if it rots after a hypothetical five years, they will simply tell us to get lost. It leads us to question offering any sort of warranty at all. We will of course continue to do so while we still can but I think it reveals the issues the timber industry as a whole is facing. It shows why so many people are losing confidence in using timber for many applications or contractors offering any guarantees against rot and insect attack when supplying and quoting customers and their projects.
So far, we have bought in some of our rails treated for above ground use instead. We have been very selective choosing rails we believe are least likely to be used in contact with the ground. These items will be marked UC3 in our new price list. Changing these lines over to a new mill will ease the pressure on Diamond’s. They come from the same mill our sleepers are cut from, which as you know are some of the best fencing grade sleepers around. I think this is also a great reflection on the quality of Diamonds timber and how spoilt we all are to have it. If you are desperate for the Diamonds rails they will have to be ordered in and a lead time of at least two weeks will apply.
Over the coming months you will probably experience extended lead times for special cut items as demand increases. This is normally between the months of March and November so please allow extra time if you require these.
Our plans for 2019 also include tarmacking the rest of the yard, discontinuing timber lines and products that are slow movers which in turn will allow more room for new lines or enable us to hold more stock of faster selling lines. We have already added 3.6m x 75 x 25mm (69 x 19mm fin) lengths to our price list due to the demand for venetian style fencing. Venetian fencing is extremely popular. Last year we bought in a 2 x 1 smooth baton to offer a cheaper alternative to the traditional red cedar. This one timber line has sold almost 13,000 lengths last year and this is set to increase in 2019. Our 4 x 1 smooth is proving almost as popular. Emma hopes to increase the stocks of sheet material, she has already started this process by introducing OSB 3 board and 9mm plywood.
I do hope this newsletter has enabled you to get a greater insight in to what is going on behind the scenes not just at Marthall but in the timber industry as a whole. We strive every day to do the best we can and keep you all working. We know some of our decisions won’t please everyone but we aim to keep the majority happy and we really do try very hard to listen to everyone’s opinions and take them into account where possible. We hope you enjoy using the new website and that 2019 is a busy and fruitful year for you and your families.
From Everyone at Marthall Tree Products
Marthall Supports the Local Scouts
November 9th, 2018
After receiving a phone call from the local scouts group we decided to loan out a couple of big timbers to the local scout club. They have a gathering every year and build a structure to encourage team work and comradery. Finally to celebrate their achievements and the camp in general all the scouts are photographed underneath the structure.
Marthall Supports AquaAid
November 6th, 2018
We are thrilled to have received a photograph from AquaAid, our water supplier. The staff at Marthall have manged to drink enough water over the
last 8 years to build a much need well for a village in Africa. To date aqua aid have helped over 2.5 million people and its great to know that
we have been part of that. Below is an extract from the aqua aid website.
Together We Save Lives
We believe in making a difference and helping those that need it most. This belief has been a cornerstone of the AquAid ethos since we first opened our doors in 1998, and by choosing us, you help make that difference a reality every day.
Our first charity partnership began many years ago with Christian Aid. Thanks to our support, a variety of water projects have helped bring much needed water to some of the poorest people in Africa. In 2010, wanting to make an even greater impact and create sustainable projects that better empower the less fortunate, AquAid founded the Africa Trust which has been instrumental in uplifting many communities across the continent.
When you choose AquAid as your preferred water cooler supplier, you not only gain access to an extensive range of innovative, high-quality products; you also help to bring opportunity and hope to thousands of people every day. Thanks to your support and a shared belief in making the world a better place, we have to date donated in excess of £12 million and helped bring a life-time supply of clean, fresh drinking water to more than 2 million people.