FAMILIAR faces David and Dorothy Sulman have retired from the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor), after combined service in the industry of 77 years.

David Sulman joined the timber trade in 1979 as a technical trainee with Mallinson-Denny in London and underwent training at various UK locations in hardwood, softwood and sheet materials operations, including time at the UK’s only plywood mill. He later joined the Timber Research & Development Association (TRADA), firstly in London, where he was their youngest regional officer, based initially in London and then the High Wycombe headquarters, before relocating to Scotland 1983. It was in Scotland that David and Dorothy met in 1985 and later married.

Dorothy had previously worked in the papermaking industry, estate agency and an architectural practice. They successfully managed the new TRADA office in Stirling, which included serving as Secretary to the Scottish Consortium of Timber Frame Industries, before David returned to Mallinson-Denny, where he became operations manager at the Grangemouth site. A return to TRADA as senior consultant in Stirling followed.

This period included serving as Secretary to the UK Softwood Sawmillers Association, which represented the technical and commercial interests of the British-grown timber sector, and the two were later recruited to manage the newly formed UK Forest Products Association in 1996, which provided a strong and professional voice for the wood processing sector in the UK. In 2019, UKFPA merged with Confor and David was appointed deputy chief executive.

In addition, David and Dorothy served as secretaries to the Scottish Timber Trade Association (STTA), representing imported timber interests in Scotland, for 26 and 28 years respectively.

David commented: “We have thoroughly enjoyed our careers in the timber trade; wood is a marvellous material with so many possibilities. We have been very fortunate to work with some inspiring people over the years and have been very grateful for the support of many trade association members.

“We have seen some major advances in the sector over the years and no doubt these will continue. However, the challenge of planting more commercial conifer crops in the UK remains, together with the skills challenge throughout the wood supply chain. We send our thanks and best wishes for continued success to our everyone we know in the trade.”