Tilling Timber was fortunate to participate (between lockdowns) in the TABMA 2021 Conference held from 16-18 June in the Hunter Valley, NSW.
For many the highlight of the conference was the facilitated panel discussion about the timber supply shortage. The panel was made up of delegates from ADM Global, Tilling Timber, Hyne Timber, Belmont Timber and NCI discussed the state of the industry currently, what challenges are around the corner and suggestions of how we can move forward.
At the end of the conference was TABMA’s annual Gala Dinner and Awards Night. TABMA introduced an inaugural new category in which they recognised industry icons. Norm and Judy Tilling were among those celebrated and had made the trip from Queensland for the event. Norm and Judy spoke briefly, accepting the award with grace and humour. Norm thanked the industry which has been their lives. Judy thanked the suppliers, customers and their people who have supported them over the last 58 years. The audience all joined in a standing ovation. Norm and Judy had a wonderful night, which they found very touching and memorable. Other industry icons recognized at the event were the Hyne family, and John Walker of Belmont Timber (posthumous).
The following is a short bio on the journey of these two Industry Icons. By definition, an icon is “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of admiration”.
Norm and Judy Tilling’s devotion to each other, the business and the industry receive our admiration at the 2021 conference. Their devotion to the business and each other has helped build a strong, professional Australian timber industry, leading by their fine example.
Since 1963 the dynamic duo of Norm and Judy Tilling have worked, played, and thrived in the Australian Timber industry. From humble timber trader beginnings, selling timber that they stocked underneath their house at Eltham, they have toiled ceaselessly to build the largest distributor of engineered wood products in Australia, employing more than 200 people, and operating 5 major distribution centres in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.
As a couple, Judy and Norm have been the perfect partners, their skills and strengths complementing one another. In the 60s, 70s and early 80s, the pair worked very closely together. Norm managed manufacturing and operations, while Judy managed sales and marketing. In the late 80’s, their roles became more separate. Judy was president and founder of Tilling’s US operations in Tiggert, Oregon, setting up an office of 6 employees handling procurement, international shipping and quality control of Tilling’s imports.
Norm switched into more of the sales and marketing, while Judy diligence drove the business in imports, foreign exchange, purchasing and operations. In this period, Norm & Judy became the consummate international traders and jetsetters, and Tilling’s import supply lines brought a growing Australian building industry much needed Western Red Cedar and Oregon structural timber.
The late 90s saw new opportunity and new markets with Engineered Wood Products. Norm and Judy quickly established new product supply of their own brand, SmartFrame, their own engineering software, a design centre employing engineers and estimators. The last 25 years has also seen the Tillings invest and reinvest to increase the business capacity, and service a continuously growing building industry.
The brands of Tilling – its people, products, and service, represent quality, value, and customer focus – these were instilled by Norm and Judy into the business over the decades. Norm and Judy have a genuine care for their customers, and a strong appreciation for their suppliers. These values, and their incredible combined work ethic, have built Tilling Timber into one of the largest distributors of LVL in the world. Currently, Tilling Timber is Russia’s largest Australian export customer.
Through the ups and downs of the Australian economy, for the last 58 years Norm and Judy have employed thousands of staff at Tilling Timber. To these staff they have been employer, manager, advisor, counsellor, friend, confidant, de facto parent or grandparent, benefactor and even occasionally, Santa. They have poured so much of themselves into the business, yet at the same time they have brought up 3 great children, Janelle, Peta and Glenn.
FTMA would like to extend their congratulations to Norm & Judy for receiving the Award from TABMA and we were honoured to be present and see just how much this award meant to the two of you.