ASHS Guide to the Board & professional support team

The ASHS Board (How ASHS works)
ASHS is a Cooperative (more precisely an Industrial and Provident Society formally established in 1999). Within the structure of a Cooperative it is required by law that it should have a board of directors of no more than 8 members and hold up to 3 meetings and an AGM with a minimum of 3 directors in attendance per year. The constitution specifies that it must have a Chair, Vice-chair and secretary, however the board can specify other positions if it requires them. A quorum of 3 directors are required for a board meeting and 8 members for a general meeting. Conference calls are acceptable to make up a quorum and ASHS does incorporate this approach from time to time. Meetings generally coincide with sawmill visits making it a worthwhile day out, allowing members to link up. ASHS has very little in the way of tangible assets.

Overview of being an ASHS board member
Out with the legal responsibilities of a board outlined above, the main thing it is required to do is manage and organise the day to day business of the organisation for the benefit of its membership. It will also make decisions on its direction, for example introducing an Associate and retired membership status, developing a member’s journal or updating the website. An example of this is detailed below under the heading of Full Circle production manager.
Each board under the direction of its chair may have ideas they wish to implement during their time in the seat like those outlined above. These will be discussed at length during a board meeting with minutes (detailed notes) taken during the meeting. This acts as a record of everything discussed at that time along with who has agreed to carry out a specific task. These are typed up and sent to the membership to keep them involved with what is going on. The input from each board member will vary depending upon what time commitment they can make at that time which is neither measured nor judged. There is however no point in joining a board if you will be unable to commit to at least 50% of the meetings and be able to respond to board group emails which generally require quick responses even if only a few words. Being a member of the board is an unpaid position and all decisions should be made for the benefit of the group and not an individual. ASHS also have a small group of professionals on the payroll who do an invaluable job for ASHS keeping all the systems running smoothly and keeping each new chair and board properly informed and on the right road during their time in the position. It should be noted that although the following descriptions are quite detailed the actual work involved is pretty small.
ASHS operate an open house approach, which means that you do not have to be on the board in order to get involved. If you have a specific idea you think would be good for ASHS, or you would just like to help with any of the jobs detailed below, come along to a meeting or email the board and get involved.  

Main positions and responsibilities
Chairman: The Chairman is responsible for setting the tone, direction and pace of the organisation, ASHS now operate a year turnover for this post in so doing keeping the leaders position fresh and focused. Their main responsibilities are:
•    To set the agenda and chair each of the 4 meetings a year. They will call on the other board members during the meeting if they have a specific input at that time, for example if dealing with finances the treasurer may be called to speak about this aspect of business. On membership, the membership manager may be called to speak etc. At all times however anyone is able to contribute towards the conversation in a civilised and considerate way. It is important that the chairman keeps to the agenda in order to get through the business needing dealt with within the time available.
•    Once an idea has been put into play they should ensure that the work agreed to be done is done within the set timescale, through steady (usually email) communication with the board and or members carrying out the work.
•    Deal with any email enquiries about the ASHS group.
•    Liaise with the Forestry Commission Scotland representatives.
•    Act as mediator between an ASHS member and a client to resolve an issue, the board would also be involved on an advisory basis to determine a fair outcome.
•    Liaise with the ASHS coordinator regarding the day to day running of the group.
•    Agree and direct payments through the treasurer as required.
•    Prepare text for the news page for the Full Circle, this is usually a summary of the minutes from the two meetings which will have taken place between the 2 publications per year.
•    Liaise with Scottish Furniture Makers Association board in helping develop joint collaborations.

Vice Chairman: The vice chairman assists the chairman where possible, spreading the chairs workload.

Secretary: The secretary is responsible for administration support, alongside the chair and the coordinator, helping to organise meetings, circulating papers and taking the minutes. Currently Nick our coordinator takes care of most of this business.

Treasurer: The treasurer is responsible for looking after the finances of the organisation in conjunction with the coordinator, they will have access to the online banking set up and be required to:
•    Pay bills as agreed by the board through online banking.
•    Prepare simple accounts for meetings.
•    Invoice Forestry Commission Scotland for grant agreed funds as required.
•    Update membership template invoices and send out during April.
•    Prepare other sales invoices as required.
•    Collect purchase invoices to correspond with outgoings from the bank and keep filed.
•    Present lever arch file with all Sales and Purchase invoices to accountant for end of year accounts.   
ASHS financial activities are relatively small and with most payees set up online and profit and loss and membership templates already set up, this is not as onerous as it might seem. Annual accounts are required and are submitted to Financial Conduct Authority in October. This is normally done by the coordinator.

Membership manager: The membership manager is responsible for:
•    Looking after the membership list, ensuring it is kept up to date and that all information is correct.
•    They will be connected to the GoCardless payment system which will inform them when a new member joins.
•    They will send a welcome to ASHS email.
•    Their main focus will be on building the membership with assistance as required from the rest of the board.
•    Liaise with Stephanie our Graphics designer to arrange a membership certificate for new members.
This job is currently carried out by our Coordinator but we will be looking for someone to take on the position after the AGM in October.

Marketing manager: The marketing manager is responsible for:
•    Developing the ASHS name through social media, either in conjunction with Stephanie or becoming an admin themselves.
•    Help to build public awareness of the ASHS group.
•    Report at meetings.
This is a new position being introduced at the next AGM.

Full Circle production manager: This is a good example of how a member’s idea was introduced and developed with the backing and assistance of the board. This involved establishing the basic premise on which the journal is based, the quality of the print, use of recycled paper and paper weight, scale and format, fonts front page layout, cover price, quantity, size and cost of adds, online presentation and access through the website, finding and encouraging advertising support.

Once these basic parameters were set the content was developed. As it is essentially an industry based journal, the yard visits and news pages for Scottish Furniture Makers Association, ASHS and Forestry Commission Scotland were set as a consistent theme from the beginning. This has further developed into an edition theme, bringing 3 or 4 stories together on the same subject from different perspectives, thereby presenting a fairly balanced view of the subject matter chosen.

With the basic look, structure and collective ideas of the Journal now established, tested and proven, the work now involved in putting an issue   together includes the following:
•    Establish the theme for the next edition.
•    Contact potential contributors, by email or phone.
•    Inform contributors of No of words, time scale, photo requirements.
•    Establish running order and ensure enough copy and adds are available to fill 36—44 pages.
•    Ensure a minimum of 5 pages of paid adds, additional help required to chase advertisers for each publication.
•    Email gentle reminder to contributors 8 & 4 weeks prior to copy deadline.
•    On final week before copy deadline contact any contributors who haven’t yet submitted their story by phone to ensure copy is coming.
•    Proof read all articles submitted and check spelling and grammar and make sure there are no direct attacks on individuals or businesses and no bias towards any specific business or product check photos show good working practice.
•    Determine theme and establish three stories for front cover of next edition.
•    Ensure that each contribution is collated in its own folder with all relevant high res photos and a head shot of the writer. Copy into the dropbox folder link for Trilogy Designs. Once all information for that edition has been collated and copied over, email Stephanie at Trilogy Designs that journal details are complete, and ready for layout.
•    Write the introduction to the journal with comments on the various stories within.
•    Liaise with Stephanie during the layout process, coordinate and confirm quickly any required changes along the way.
•    If anything is short or further material is required for any story, liaise with contributors to obtain required information.
•    Once the layout is complete, send a pdf copy to all contributors and advertisers for a final proofing.
•    Make sure any requested changes are made via Stephanie and send to Nick for final overview proofing.
•    When all is agreed, confirm with Stephanie to send to print.
•    When printed, ensure that a pdf copy is sent to John for publication on the website at the same time as hard copies are sent out to the membership.
•    Inform treasurer of confirmed advertisers and ensure that invoices are sent out and revenue collected.
Although the Full Circle has been developed by a board member, future production managers don't necessarily require to be on the board to take on this position.

Professional support members of the ASHS team include:

Nick MarshalNick Marshal
John LaingJohn Laing
Web designer
Stephanie ChristieStephanie Christie
Graphic designer

Coordinator: The ASHS coordinator, Nick Marshal (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) has been with ASHS since it was formed in 1999. Although not a shareholder or a board member he attends most meetings. Affectionately known as “the keeper of the knowledge” and contributes to the board discussions on most topics, along with taking the minutes. After a meeting he will send a typed accurate account of the meeting to the board for approval, prior to sending to the membership, usually within a week or so. He is also responsible for collating the end of year accounts, coordinating enquiries through the web site and emailing the membership the details as required, more recently he has put together text for the ASHS guide booklets, writes occasional articles for the journal and other publications promoting ASHS, final check proof reads the journals pre-printing. Currently Nick also coordinates any new members joining through the GoCardless payment system and does most of the accounts. We would however prefer these jobs to be taken on by members at some point in the future.

Web designer: John Laing of J & R Laing Associates ( designed, built and maintains the ASHS website. When a new members joins, their details (including google maps and photos) are put onto the site and regularly updated as required. As ASHS evolves so too does the website, new headings, new pages of information, technical updates, Journals and guide booklets, John keeps it all working smoothly for us. “You don't get a second chance to make a first impression”.

Graphic designer: Stephanie Christie of Trilogy Designs Scotland ( provides an invaluable service for ASHS. To date she has been responsible for:
•    Designing The Full Circle Journal.
•    Designing the ASHS ‘guide too’ booklets.
•    Designing the ASHS and SWWL logos.
•    Designing the ASHS stationary.
•    Designing the membership certificates.
•    Designs any ASHS advertising literature.
•    Updating the Facebook page on a regular basis.

ASHS core objective

The Association of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers, is a group of small saw mills and wood users that both process and make use of home grown Scottish hardwoods and some premium durable softwoods.

Our primary aim has been to increase the use of our local hardwoods, and to do this we support members, with…
•    Sharing of knowledge and best practice, and collaboration between members.
•    Training; of both members and new start ups.
•    Increasing the number of small saw mills in Scotland.
•    Developing the sector in partnership with FCS and others, including joint promotion of different timbers and product development.

The buyers of hard wood logs are therefore based elsewhere in the UK or in continental Europe. They are interested only in the very best logs and in sizeable volumes (multiple lorry loads). As a result, our very best timber leaves the country with all the value added benefits accruing elsewhere in Europe and the UK. Scotland then imports some of this back at many times its original value. This is a loss to the Scottish economy.

scottish forestry logo