Yesterday I celebrated 10 years with FTMA Australia and I’m still loving it.


The first week of January 2009, on my first day back at work for Timber Communities Australia I was dealt a devastating blow that after nearly 13 years of service, I was retrenched.  This was 10 days before our eldest son went to Brasil for Rotary Youth Exchange so we were a tad stressed given we were reliant on the two incomes.

Andrew Scane of MiTek, knew me through the Hoo Hoo Club and rang to tell me about the Executives Officers job with FTMA Australia.  ‘With who I think my reply was’.  I told Andrew I knew nothing about the frame and truss industry but he assured me what the association needed was someone with passion and a loud voice.

So I made a few calls and spoke to Peter Wines the then President of the Association and had an interview with board members.  Clive Martella was concerned at how I would go working in a male dominated industry but given I had worked with logging contractors and the timber industry supply chain I didn’t see that as being a problem and told him I’d try and behave myself.

The night before Neil left for Brasil, Peter rang me to tell me that they didn’t want my son going overseas stressing about whether his mum had a job or not, so to put my mind at ease, he told me I got the job.

I thought it would be hard going from a grassroots community organisation to an employer Association but I discovered that FTMA Members and the frame & truss sector were as down to earth, as hard working and as fair dinkum as the grassroots community people I worked with and so the transition was pretty smooth.

I still don’t know all the technical stuff about frames and trusses.  I’ve never wanted to know as I believe we all have our strengths and mine definitely isn’t engineering and given the nail plate companies provide this service to the fabricators there was no use replicating that.  My strength is networking, communication and passionately advocating for an industry I truly believe in.

Over the years the Association has continued to grow from a membership of 68 when I started in 2009 to a membership of 139 and we have members in every State and Territory.  In 2009 we had 6 Sponsors (2 Gold, 1 Silver & 2 Bronze) and now we have 24 Sponsors (3 Gold, 5 Silver and 16 Bronze).

George Prothero always used to say to me that it was important that we provided real services for Fabricators where they were saving money and have services that truly made a difference and we have delivered that.  The members resources online and provided on the Members USB equates thousands of dollars in resources.  The Credit Application Form alone would cost a fabricator close to $3500 to have developed, whereas we provide that for free, along with employee contracts and the NHVR resources provided to members late last year would also cost in excess of $4000.

There is no doubt that our membership benefits the small to medium plants more than the large plants who employee their own specialists, however, as Steve Collier from Australia’s largest frame and truss business, Timbertruss says, you can’t be a leader in the industry, if you’re not willing to contribute to the only National Association for the sector.  It’s about working together to help lift standards and help the industry become more innovative.

This isn’t an article to blow my own trumpet but to thank the members, sponsors and our passionate board.  As if it wasn’t for your support, we wouldn’t be able to deliver what we do.  I don’t know how much longer I have in me, but I am still passionate about our industry and can’t see me stopping anytime soon.

Kersten Gentle

FTMA Australia Executive Office