Meeting our certified companies – Venturer Timberwork
29 March 2021 Certification on the ground
In the latest interview in the series ‘Meeting our certified companies’, we spoke with Kevin Hill, CEO of Venturer Pte Ltd. Amid the construction works on Changi Chapel, Singapore’s first PEFC certified project, he told us about the beginnings of his company and the meaning of PEFC certification to him and his customers.
When did you start your journey with wood?
My professional association with wood took off in 1995. I was the construction manager of a local main contractor and we had won a project to build a 3500 m2 visitors centre at the Botanic Gardens.
To meet the budget, we needed to create the timber structures ourselves. This led me on a journey of getting to know timber engineering and detailing.
The team and I learnt a lot and overcame many challenges on this project, and ultimately delivered a successful project that is still in good shape 25 years later. Soon after this project, I branched out on my own and formed Venturer Timberwork.
What made you so interested in working with wood?
I have always had an affinity for wood and carpentry. My late grandfather was a craftsman who once made wooden brushes that were supplied "By appointment to the Queen". He bought me my first woodworking set when I was a little boy. I still have the model wooden boat we made together.
When was your first encounter with PEFC and why is sustainability important for you and your customers?
I have been around the topic of sustainable timber for many years, it started off when we did a project for the Singapore Zoo in 2001.
The Zoo was the first customer that questioned the source of material, and insisted that we proved it came from responsible sources. That brought me on a journey of awareness and increased transparency in terms of wood sources.
PEFC certification was therefore a natural next step for us. I firmly believe that wood from responsible sources, like those with PEFC certification, has a unique story to tell. Building with well managed timber is head and shoulders above other common materials such as concrete and steel.
What can you tell us about your first PEFC project certification?
Project certification is an important link in a valuable narrative about the virtues of sustainable timber sources. Without project certification, the story stops with the manufacturer, not at the project itself. This means that the effort of sourcing timber responsibly cannot ultimately be proven and therefore claimed by the project owner.
Without it, the public cannot engage in a meaningful way when entering a beautifully built PEFC-certified timber structure. This is why Venturer obtained a PEFC chain of custody certificate.
What is your experience with PEFC certification?
When we embarked on our PEFC chain of custody certification process, we thought it would be a relatively simple process. Boy, did we underestimate that. The PEFC audit team went into all aspects of our business and required us to implement a range of policies, management and procurement procedures along with compliance and corrective action processes.
Ultimately, we are reaping benefits from this investment, not only are our procedures more streamlined and cohesive, we are also finding a great number of our customers appreciate the benefits that claims of PEFC origin can bring to the project proposition.