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Sun June 20 2021

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Sixth generation takes the helm at timber specialist

17 Jun 20 Timber specialist James Donaldson & Sons has moved into its sixth generation of Donaldson family ownership.

Andrew, Neil and Michael Donaldson (from left to right)
Andrew, Neil and Michael Donaldson (from left to right)

Neil Donaldson, who turns 65 next month, is stepping away and handing over to sons Andrew (37) and Michael (40).

Andrew Donaldson was appointed chief executive in April and Michael Donaldson will become chairman from 31 July.

James Donaldson & Sons has been operating in Fife for 160 years. Today the group has seven subsidiaries operating from 31 sites across the UK, with more than 1,000 employees and a turnover of £225m.

Andrew Donaldson joined the family business in 2010 after completing a graduate accountancy training programme at KPMG and qualifying with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). He has spent the last 10 years working in a variety of roles within the business, primarily as commercial director for MGM Timber and then for James Donaldson Timber, before becoming group finance director in 2019. He takes over the top job from Scott Cairns, who stepped down as group managing director in April after nine years in the role, which saw him as the first ever non-family member to lead the group.

Michael Donaldson joined the firm in 2003. He started his career manufacturing roof trusses for Donaldson Timber Engineering in Cramlington. Since then he has worked with three of the JDS trading companies in roles ranging from internal sales and operations through to director level. In 2007 he became one of the first to qualify with an MSc in Timber Industry Management at Edinburgh Napier University and he is also a director of the Timber Trade Federation. He became deputy chair of James Donaldson & Sons in 2018.

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Chief executive Andrew Donaldson, left, and elder brother Michael Donaldson, who becomes chairman on 31st July
Chief executive Andrew Donaldson, left, and elder brother Michael Donaldson, who becomes chairman on 31st July

Neil Donaldson said: “It was always my hope that the business would be passed on to the next generation, so for both Andy and Mike to be taking on the reins is an ideal scenario and a proud moment for me. The business is a very different one to the one I started running in 1985, and I’m pleased to be leaving it on a high and in such good hands. The transition from one generation to the next has been well considered and planned for over the last ten years, and I’m confident that both Andy and Mike will do an excellent job in their roles.”

Andrew Donaldson said: “We were brought up with our father and grandfather leading the business, so their moral compass is at the forefront of all we do – nothing will change in terms of the Donaldson ambitions or principles. Our focus will always be good governance; partnerships with our suppliers and customers; and looking after our loyal employees. However, we’re ready to take the group into the next generation and put our stamp on it, which is an incredibly exciting prospect.”

Michael Donaldson added: “Andrew and I spent our summers working in the family business, and we’ve spent the last 10 years preparing to take over the leadership. The last two years in particular have offered serious training for the roles, with Andy as CFO and me as deputy chairman. Despite the incredibly difficult circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time of taking over, dealing with the impact of Covid-19, things are off to a great start for us and we have some ambitious plans for the business.”

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