Growth-supportive raw material supply

​The security of raw material supply is vital for R.T.D. Crawford, a fast-growing machined timber specialist in Northern Ireland. One of the preferred suppliers is Metsä Fibre.


​With a turnover of 25 million pounds and operations in Belfast and Lisbellaw, Metsä Fibre's customer R.T.D. Crawford is the market leader for planed timber in Northern Ireland.

R.T.D. Crawford has a history of producing timber profiles. In recent years, the family-owned company has diversified its product range with dry softwood shavings, bioheat logs, and, most recently, treated micronised timber.

When R.T.D. Crawford was founded in 1978, there were approximately 12 large timber importers and planing mills in Northern Ireland.

“We saw that there was space on the market for a supplier who could provide planed timber of uniform quality with high-quality service and who would also have a large product stock,” says Garreth Crawford, the manager of the company’s Lisbellaw site.

After analysing the market, R.T.D. Crawford made a strategic decision to invest in modern machinery and new products.

“We have watched closely what the Irish market requires and invested in those market areas. We have added new products and services, thus supporting our customer base and growth.”

The decision has paid off.

“We have continually invested in new plants and machinery to streamline our production. Today we can offer high-quality products delivered with excellent level of service.”

The customer base of R.T.D. Crawford covers 75 per cent of Ireland, the customers being mainly large building materials retailers, suppliers of agricultural products and garden shed manufacturers.

“All our customers require consistent quality. They all depend on us to have the right stock at the right time. We strive for delivering the products within three days of the order.”

Quality starts with raw material

R.T.D. Crawford acquires timber from several suppliers.

“Quality, specification, and consistent supply are our most important criteria for a supplier. The security of the supply is also important. We must have the materials here on time so that we can service our customers in this time-sensitive world we live in today.”

Among these criteria, quality is number one.

“The quality of the final product we want to deliver to our valued customers comes from the quality of the raw material. That is why we work closely with our suppliers to ensure that they support our future growth.”

One of the preferred suppliers is Metsä Fibre.

“It is great to work with such a consistent, reliable, and sustainable company. The security of supply is vital for any ambitious business like ours which makes large annual investments. Knowing we can rely on Metsä Fibre as a supply partner helps with those investment decisions.”

In timber imports, R.T.D. Crawford works together with Forestwood Agencies, a company owned and run by Stephen Cargill.

“Stephen Cargill works very closely with both Metsä Fibre and our buyer. He makes sure that people at Metsä Fibre have the information they need to fulfill our timber requirements. We are very happy with our relationship.”

Sustainable treatment

In 2019, R.T.D. Crawford invested in a state-of-the-art moulder and a CNC grinding machine.

“The system is computer-based. It enables 100 per cent accuracy for our profiles. We achieve not only superior finishes on our timber profiles but also fast turnaround times. We provide our customers with the high quality and just-in-time delivery the market requires today.”

The investment in the Lisbellaw treatment centre in 2020 is a big step towards environmentally friendly and sustainable products. R.T.D. Crawford now operates a modern computer-controlled treatment process supplying treated wood throughout the island of Ireland.

The plant uses MicroPro® wood preservative, new technology from Koppers Performance Chemicals.

“Micronised timber is lighter in color compared to current copper-based treated products. The unique appearance makes it stand out in the market, allowing the contractors to build with treated timber that appears more natural in appearance while also encouraging the use of lighter natural stains,” Crawford says.

R.T.D. Crawford produces timber profiles, dry softwood shavings, bioheat logs, and treated micronised timber. Established in 1978. Produces over 500 separate timber profiles.

This article was originally published in Timber Magazine issue 2020–2021. Take a look at the magazine.

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