Ten questions with George Harris

1. What is your role?
I design and make furniture and small products in our unique Tasmanian Special Timbers for individual clients and for retail sale.

2. Who do you work for? I am self-employed. After initially renting a workshop in Hobart, I decided to move out of the city, buy some land with a shed on it, or build one as a suitable workshop. As it turned out, a small piece of a farm at Sandfly that my parents used to own came on the market, and it has been a homecoming.

3. How long have you been in the industry? I began in 1981 after doing an arts degree and initially working in local government. In between jobs I discovered an interest in woodworking, and it has held me captive ever since.

4. What’s the most exciting part of your role? I love creating an original design, and finding a theme to include in a solution that meets a client’s needs or aspirations that they may not have thought of themselves. I am also involved in a number of timber industry related organisations.

5. What are you most passionate about in the industry? I am most passionate about the industry standing up for itself, challenging the sabotage and the malicious dishonesty of its most trenchant critics, and finding the ways of telling its own story in a proud and stimulating manner.

6. What is your vision for the industry in Tasmania? My vision is that the various sectors of the industry should work together more, and share each other’s stories, for the common good. I believe the supply side of the industry, (timber providers), should engage more with timber users, (architects, builders, furniture designers, boat builders, musical instrument makers, etc.) as that represents a far greater number of people, and a far greater dimension of economic significance, and that should compel the rest of the community to regard the industry in a more positive light.

7. What do you think the Industry does really well? I think the industry is very good at self-regulation, and very good at observing imposed regulation. It is one of the most regulated industries there is. It is also very good at observing and maintaining safety standards.

8. Where do you think there is room for improvement? I think the industry needs to promote its environmental contribution much more than it does, and I think the industry needs to go out and correct the record, as so many have managed to demonize it so successfully over the years. The industry has rebounded after some horror years, but the public at large are unaware of this. We also need to address the looming shortfall in supply against the rising demand and new market opportunities. We will not be able to meet the demands of the boom in CLT and other forms of mass timber construction if we do not dramatically increase plantation establishment, and stop the rampant reserve establishment scam that continues to attack the native forest sector.

9. On a weekend, we’d find you where? More often that not I am down at the ranch, in and around my workshop, but maybe I shouldn’t tell everyone that!

10. What is something that would surprise people about you? I didn’t do woodwork beyond first year in High School, and as a woodworker I am largely self-taught.