Modest as the day is long & dyed in the wool woodgeek to boot.
To describe Wayne Racey as a modest man is an understatement.
If you ask him what he does, he’ll say “Oh, I just pull orders for clients” or “I’m just the guy from the kiln-dry shed”. Of course, as everyone who works at our Cocking sawmill knows, Wayne is a lot more than that. If Wayne doesn’t do it, we don’t need it.
Wayne grew-up near Oxford and after school started an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator, aged 17. When his family relocated to Arundel – to fulfill his father’s life long dream to live in that picturesque part of the world near the famous Arundel Castle – Wayne took a job working with wood, and never looked back.
“It wasn’t hardwood like I’m used to here, I started off at a softwood mill. Like many softwood businesses back then, we turned over a lot of wood and made fence panels, sheds, gates and other typical softwood products. I learned a lot about the different varieties and which woods are best suited for different tasks.”
In 2000, Wayne got a job at EC Forest where his friend (and our sales guru Chris) worked. It was here that Wayne learned the differences between the softwood and hardwood business, and also grasped the complexities of grading, sizing and selecting wood for clients.
“At the softwood mill we dealt only in rounds – mostly larch, spruce and douglas. And they still used imperial measurements. At EC Forest they used metric measures and different volumes of wood entirely. It was also a lot heavier, too, which you really notice when you’re shifting stock around. The softwood mill made me a specialist in the end product, at EC Forest I was thrown in at the deep end with forestry as well as hardwood.”
When Wayne’s friend and carpool buddy Chris moved to English Woodland Timber, Wayne carried on for a couple of years at EC Forest, but after years of long commutes was glad to make a move to English Woodland Timber and reconnect with his old buddy – and work 20 mins from his home in Bognor.
“It was a good run at EC Forest, but after they moved to Lewes it was a very long commute. My kids were at school at the time so I didn’t want to move them away from schools, but eventually I wanted to work nearer – so I was really pleased when Chris told me about a vacancy at English Woodlands Timber.”
Today, Wayne is sometimes nicknamed “the pendulum” because he’s always in motion between the stock shed and the machine shed. He keeps the jobs and stock flowing smoothly around the woodyard. He’ll often be found behind the wheel of the forklift or the telescopic loader, or helping out in the workshop if things are really busy. However, his favourite job is keeping the wood moving – working his naturally LEAN thinking on stock flow and supplying customer cutting lists.
Wayne has a thorough knowledge of timber and of our customer’s needs and wants. He’s a qualified structural timber visual grader and he knows joinery timber grades like the back of his hand. Oak is our fastest moving stock and Wayne’s systematic sorting keeps English and French waney edge instantly accessible, he keeps the square edge stock so streamlined we can pick from the top of the pack every time and serve our different customers and applications faster and better than ever. Species like chestnut, ash, elm and beech still get the Wayne treatment but they tend to turn over at a lesser rate for customers with more specialist requirements so can be organised accordingly…
“You get to know the customers and the stock. You need to keep note as you drive through the shed, note the different varieties, gaps and such. You also need to spot the wood that’s going to have uneven weight distribution that will need careful handling. Above all, you’ve got to listen and learn from customers and the team to keep on top of it. We’ve got a good system and we’re always improving it. It just stays with you I suppose. Little changes add up to big improvements.”
In his spare time, Wayne is a fully blown woodgeek, a skilled hand with wood himself. He’s made his own oak kitchen, bathroom, wardrobes and he’s usually working on something interesting in his shed at home. In fact, whether at home or here in the woodyard there’s not much Wayne doesn’t do.
“I’ve always worked outside, on my feet, driving about and using my hands. Picking the jobs and working in the machine shed too, helping out where I’m needed on saws and such. I love a bit of DIY as well. I couldn’t work a desk, or look at a screen all day. That’s not me. I like being busy because it makes the day go quick!”
If you enjoyed finding our more about Wayne you might like to read about some other members of the EWT team – find out more about Our People