“The sawn timber business is very interesting and exciting because every day is different. In this industry, there are no boring days. I have been working in this industry for over 20 years now, and the beginning of 2020 has certainly been full of the most challenging, but also the most motivating, events that I have faced throughout my entire career. At the beginning of the year, we had fairly high expectations for both demand and price development, and demand did develop nicely, in accordance with our expectations. However, the forest industry strikes affected the Finnish sawmill industry, which is why we couldn’t produce or supply the full quantities our customers needed. After the strikes, our sawmills immediately started operating at full capacity again, and we managed to be on top of the situation surprisingly quickly. Naturally, we also lost a lot of trade, and we are still delivering some of the orders during Q2 that were made during Q1. Thanks to our strong collaborative relationship with our customers, we overcame these challenges.
After this, we faced an even bigger issue, as COVID-19—and the fear it caused—spread across the globe. I’m sure that everyone is aware of how much the virus has affected people’s everyday lives, the global economy and also the sawn timber trade. It remains to be seen how far-reaching the effects of the virus are on all of our lives and the global economy. What is certain is that many things, such as the way we work, have been changed for good. Using MS Teams to communicate and carry out various operational activities, such as internal and external negotiations, has worked out better than anyone could have hoped for. I still believe that face-to-face meetings with our customers will be more than necessary in the future, because in this way we can collaborate even more closely than before and work together to create the guidelines for future development.
I know that the strikes and the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively affected many businesses but I am happy to say that UPM Timber has pulled through with minimal damage. Especially now during the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to supply our products in full to many different markets. We have made it through these difficult situations because of the trust we have built with our customers over the years, as a supplier and partner. This is also proof that UPM Timber’s commercial strategy is a success and has been well received among our customers. Back when we renewed our commercial strategy, one of our most important aims was to make it as flexible as possible so we could overcome even the most challenging situations. The first half of 2020 has really put our strategy to the test and I am proud, yet humbled, to say that it works!”
I wish you all a great summer! Please take care of yourselves and those around you.
Director, Sales & Supply Chain Management, UPM Timber