Harvesting the longevity of sustainable timber

24 June 2021

Nicole Bittar

The concept of sustainable timber as the ultimate renewable is succinctly expressed by Kennedy’s Timbers founder Michael Kennedy: “It’s a magnificent product”. Akin to the raw material, this hands-on timber business practitioner, whose Brisbane-based company (with offices in Melbourne and NSW) has furnished Parliament House, Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne, to award-winning bespoke homes and eco-resort Lindis Luxury Lodge in New Zealand, lives and breathes the sustainability message.

“We are blessed to be in this industry, because it is a wonderful industry where we’re doing good environmental work with every piece of timber that we send out of our door,” Michael says.

Given this palpable level of business contagion, a string of industry awards, including Queensland’s Small Business Employer of the Year 2019 and Metropolitan Small Business Employer of the Year 2019, Innovations in Sustainability Supplier Award, naturally followed for Kennedy’s Timbers.

The tri-generational family company caters to projects from public/urban design to landscape design. In doing so, it specialises in architectural hardwoods and timber joinery, structural and decorative timbers, feature posts and beams, to a complete range of building materials, even recycled power poles.

Kennedy's Timber team portrait

As a former business analyst, Michael credits his staff (“a great team of people”) with making his managerial role easier. The product also works wonders.

“What timber does is to provide a great environmental solution for people who want to build, but it also offers a wonderful aesthetic material that’s very flexible,” Michael says. Furthermore, it can be used in a variety of applications. Towards this aim, content and context are paramount in the pursuit of renewability.

“People are chasing products with a good sustainability story that’s across all materials — whether that’s electricity, cars, food or building materials,” Michael says. “Timber is the ultimate renewable in that it has an ability that no other building material has.”

“This means that it can be used as a power pole or building; it can have a certified life of 30, 40, 50, 80 years; but it can then be reused in other applications and at a higher dollar value,” he says, chuckling at the notion of concrete or steel offering the same potential for reapplication and malleability.

It might be difficult to imagine industry practitioners being anti sustainability, but that is a business scenario Michael says he initially encountered.

Michael Kennedy of Kennedy's Timber

“It’s interesting that when I started in this industry, there were people in the timber industry who considered what we do as a threat,” he says. “That just goes to show you how far it’s come.

“We had conservationists who liked us, but didn’t like the timber industry. Twenty-six years later, what we see now is the traditional timber industry, softwood and hardwood, encouraging recycling, because it adds to the sustainability message that wood has.”

Michael applauds how far the product and industry has progressed — attributing its forward-thinking outlook to science and factual evidence.

In online video material, he elaborates: “Wood is a magical product. What it does is it sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere; it produces oxygen; it stores the carbon in the wood fibre; and it does that forever.

“And when you harvest that wood, a new tree grows that sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere quicker than an older tree … When the product is used, at the end of its life, we’re able to recycle and repurpose it into another product: so it is the ultimate renewable resource.”

Coupled with his business knowledge that clients have become research-driven — with a finely attuned information radar — and the sustainability narrative achieves renewed resonance.

“People are smart, these days; they do their homework,” Michael says. “They don’t listen to people telling them rubbish.

“And they can tell that sustainable timber makes sense, factually and aesthetically, so that’s what they’re going to use.”

Contact info:

Managing Director: Michael Kennedy

Email: sales@kennedystimbers.com.au

Website: kennedystimbers.com.au

Telephone: 1300 788 884