Dave Gover has taken up his new position as general manager of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) based in Heyfield, Vic.
Dave is no stranger to the Victorian manufacturer; he was operations manager up to 2015.
In his time away, he spent five years as CEO of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) and two years with AKD Softwoods.
Dave returns with a number of significant and transformative projects on the go at ASH. He gives added strength to the leadership team as they continue to invest in producing valuable timber for a renewable and sustainable future and supports managing director Vince Hurley as ASH looks to diversify resource and continues to innovate.
It isn’t just the projects that attracted Dave’s return to ASH. Initiatives like a nine-day fortnight, on-site allied health care for musculoskeletal health, and values that speak to doing things better, demonstrating effort and care, and listening to and involving others were also part of the attraction.
“Those values resonate with me and suit my leadership style, and I’m looking forward to trying to model those values as we execute a number of exciting projects,” Dave said.
Those projects include continuing to invest in ASH’s MASSLAM capabilities. ASH launched MASSLAM five years ago which has now expanded to a fourth shed and fourth MASSLAM-specific manufacturing plant in response to quickly growing demand.
“We’re installing our third mass timber robotic CNC this year which will further increase current capacity and give us the ability to take on extra work in future years,” explained Dave.
Complementing that is the development and roll out of ASH’s new Advanced Timber Composites (ATC), a mass timber flooring panel which is launching to the market this year. This will provide the consumer with a highly attractive flooring system that can not only express timber soffit through DtS fire solutions but also has high acoustic performance, longer spans, and dramatically improve onsite construction-phase moisture challenges.
Another new product ASH is bringing to market is 100% Australian-made engineered flooring under the brand of Australian Oak.
“Every other pre-finished engineered floor is made overseas, so ASH saw an opportunity to take our experience in processing high value timber to produce an engineered floorboard to complement ASH’s existing products,” noted Dave.
The ASH team is currently commissioning the engineered flooring line which will see lamella production, pressing and construction of the floor, profiling and coating all happen on site – targeting their first offer of an Australian Oak engineered floorboard available to the market in the second half of this year.
ASH is continuing to innovate on this product, with an environmentally friendly zero-VOC coating, as well as uncoated board to replace strip flooring and overlay. The combination of producing and coating on site in Heyfield means faster lead times and a high standard for quality assurance.
Along with the flooring, ASH is ramping up capacity to supply staircase components, which have been a staple market for ASH since 1996.
“Now we’re improving our manufacturing equipment to make it more efficient and make sure that as much wood as we can is converted to high value products,” Dave said.
Dave sees ASH’s work to develop Plantation Oak as a particularly exciting initiative … a product range that has been under development at ASH for more than 10 years.
“It is about finding valuable applications for a significant plantation hardwood resource,” Dave said.
Plantation Oak is a beautiful timber but also has different processing properties to traditional timber processing, and different structural properties to existing markets.
Responsible sawmilling is about finding the right market for 100% of the fibre processed.
“Some of the fibre produced in Plantation Oak doesn’t really fit into any existing timber space, so we’re making a space,” asserted Dave.
ASH has the unique position of being able to direct parts of the tree to the best application, be that high end architectural joinery, engineered systems or something else ASH is still to develop.
“There’s plenty to keep me busy,” Dave said.
“I’m also enjoying being back in the Gippsland region and reconnecting with people here. That’s really what it is about for me – our people, our community and making valuable timber from a renewable resource for a sustainable future.”