2020 The Year That Was – A Word from Craig Honeyman

Craig Honeyman | Managing Director | Stirling Machinery

Article by: Craig Honeyman, Managing Director

A crash course in adversity and adaptability

People know me to be a very positive, passionate person however there’s no way to write a recap of 2020 without mentioning the pandemic and natural disasters. That said, I believe this year has taught the world a great deal. Narrowing in specifically on our industry, we’ve had a crash course in adversity and how to deal with it and the way the industry has rallied has been absolutely incredible.

From challenges comes opportunity. We could all sit back and talk about how bad the world is or how adverse events have affected us. Or we can control the controllable and do something with them. Challenges are always there. Beat one and another will be along soon enough.

The surprising upturn of the pandemic

From challenges comes opportunity

With so many Australians at home due to lockdown, the home improvement urge surged. Who would have thought that homeowners would start building decks amid an impending recession? Our decking market, which usually starts around Bathurst time (September/October) exploded back in April, then gained momentum and pushed out to June/July which is just unprecedented.

A booming housing market

Following some of the most catastrophic bushfires in Australia’s history, the industry was challenged to still produce timber with burnt logs. Through all the negativity, challenges and setbacks from the droughts, bushfires and Covid-19, the industry (and Accurate Group) has managed to become stronger and more agile.

In September and October, the housing market experienced the most significant increase in approvals since 2002. Consequently, our company is heading into 2021 with even more orders and even more confidence in the timber industry and its secure future. Today, the real battle is to manage the timber supplies available to us and strategize how we’re going to produce them.

Four keys to success in 2021

Based on what I’ve seen this year in terms of positive steps forward, I believe proactivity has replaced complacency in a big way. I think as a national, perhaps even global business community, we had it too good for too long. Consider the following for next year:

  1. Cohesion strategies – Assembling the right people, tools, machinery and expertise is going to be even more critical to production.
  2. Hone your competitive edge – 2021 is going to be about integrating advanced equipment with current technology into businesses.
  3. Innovate, don’t stagnate – Adapting to create new income streams has proven to be a real game-changer for our customers in 2020.
  4. Refocus on the customer – Making it easy for customers to do business with you has never been more important.

For me personally, 2020 has been a milestone year

It has enabled me to spend the vast majority of my time closer to home, working on the business and being contactable and available. This has had such a positive impact that I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the future.

Our team’s strength

Just like nearly everyone else, Covid-19 hit all three of our companies. Our staff were pushed on to half weeks and a half salary, but even though none of us knew how long it would take to come out the other side, they got on with what had to be done. The sacrifices our magnificent people made for the greater benefit of all has, for me, been the most revealing positive outcome of 2020.

The gift of new challenges

I cannot wait for 2021. What could have been disastrous for our business and the industry as a whole has turned out to be a gigantic lesson that has gifted us with new strategies, greater resilience and a huge determination to never give up. And let’s not forget, whilst we’re extremely fortunate to live where we do, the global pandemic is not over. Keep your eye on the prize and never let your guard down. We can’t let adversity win; there’s too much good to experience out there.


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Hear from our customers

C Series Finger Jointer & E Series Moulder

“Every step of the way, Stirling showed that they could partner with us in a meaningful way. We weren’t looking for a quick set-and-forget arrangement. We wanted a genuine collaboration that would see us through from consultancy and installation to operation and beyond.”

Chris Skeels-Piggins


Planer Sander

“Stirling Machinery’s Planer Sander replaced the two existing sanders we had onsite. Finishing tabletops, a process that originally took two to three hours across two machines, has now been reduced to a matter of minutes in a one-pass finish. The team took the time to understand my operation, how it is run,and what we were looking for in terms of increased capacity and timber finish, and came back with a tailored solution that ticked all of the boxes.As a furniture maker of 35 years, I have been very impressed by the level of service,support and results Stirling has provided. From adding one machine, we have gained time, quality, space, output and efficiency and I couldn’t be happier.”

Geoff Laffan

Director of Winna Furniture

A Series Moulder & Vertical Resaw

“What Craig and the rest of the team at Stirling care about is that the timber industry in Australia goes to a higher quality level. They want to see our customers getting the best product, they don’t just want to sell something. Craig is always asking the questions to make sure that whatever he sells me is going to make my product higher quality and the customer happier.”

Thor Diesendorf

Managing Director of Thor's Hammer