For more than a decade, husband and wife team Jen and Kenny Brodie have run their own Perthshire timber business.
They have more than 20 years of experience in the industry and have grown the business to have five staff.
Jen tells us more about the origins of the business and its plans for the future.
How and why did you start in business?
For over 20 years, my husband Kenny and I have worked in the timber and construction industry.
We felt inspired to start our own business with a nod to the old Edinburgh timber yard where we worked together in the early 2000s.
When we started Brodies Timber Ltd back in 2012, our aim was to supply timber and sheet materials, and provide a ‘cut to size’ service, for people and business in the Perthshire area.
We found this great location in Inver, by the River Braan, on the opposite side of the A9 from Dunkeld.
We managed to secure a lease and quickly set about upgrading the old buildings into what is now our showroom, workshop and wood store.
How did you get to where you are today?
After working together in that small timber merchant in Edinburgh, our wood-working paths then went in different directions.
I focused on developing my skills as a treehouse builder and Kenny went into theatre set construction.
We later re-joined and began our very first business together doing small on-site joinery and freelance set building.
Shortly after starting our family, Kenny took a permanent position as the master carpenter at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
That job is literally what got us to where we are today!
A few years later, an opportunity arose to start our own timber yard in Inver.
Feeling a bit nostalgic and with fond memories of those earlier years when we first worked together in Edinburgh, we expanded the services of what had been a woodworking supplies outlet and began to develop and grow our business.
We saw a potential gap in the market and drove the business towards quality materials and excellent workmanship.
Since those early days, we’re now working on ever more sizeable bespoke contracts and commissions.
We’re very proud of having nurtured the business into the position and reputation it has today.
Who helped you?
Our family and friends have given us a huge amount of support over the years – even getting a few commissions along the way. More recently, the Federation of Small Businesses is always there when we need them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
Keep focused on your goals – don’t be distracted by what other people think your business should be.
What is your biggest mistake?
Initially, everybody had their own opinions about what services we should be providing and what products we should be selling.
Our biggest mistake was trying to please all of them instead of focussing on what was important to us!
However, we learned from this mistake after getting the good advice that I’ve mentioned above.
What is your greatest achievement?
We’ve both had lots of great jobs over the years that are great achievements – particularly projects which have created a bit of admiration and respect for the workmanship and time involved.
However, the thing I’m most proud of is the team we’ve built here. Our team are extremely talented, and they never say never.
Together we have an ability to figure out how to do any job, regardless of how new or challenging that job might be.
How are you managing rapidly rising costs, and how could the government help?
It’s a difficult time for small businesses, with increasing costs across the board, but we’re making tweaks to the inner workings of the business to try and relieve some of the pressure.
One decision we’ve taken is to increasingly source our timber more locally, which offers a lovely story and provenance to the material without the costly carbon footprint.
Health and safety, and appropriate training, are vital in our industry. Keeping our staff safe and highly skilled is a key area for us.
It would be a big help if the government could subsidise training for first aid, health surveillance, and equipment training for things like forklift operating.
What do you still hope to achieve?
We want to create beautiful pieces and use more local timber to create them.
Having recently invested in a drying kiln, our key objectives are to increase our stock levels and species of Scottish timber and expand the market for our services.
The final five…
- What do you do to relax? Relax? Drink red wine!
- What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV? Highbrow answer: Radio 4. Lowbrow answer: Married At First Sight UK.
- What do you waste your money on? It’s red wine again!
- What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Wake the kids up and have a cup of tea.
- What do you drive and dream of driving? I drive an Iveco Daily flatbed truck… and I don’t dream of driving, generally!