Words With Douglas…

This month, Words With… resumes with a profile of Douglas Mathison, who spends his life outdoors in the Borders, courtesy of his business, Agriforest…

What’s your connection to the Lothians?

It’s from a family perspective mainly: my grandparents lived in Edinburgh for many years, and most of my family are still in the city or outskirts. I also spent several summers baling straw for a farm near Pencaitland, something which I really enjoyed – though not when the weather has been the way it has of late!

You live in the Borders now, what’s the best thing about that?

The combination of great countryside and accessibility to most places. Edinburgh airport is within an hour’s drive, yet when I look out my office window at night there are no street lights, and complete peace and quiet. There are many fantastic off the beaten track locations to visit. My favourite place is Seacliff Beach – although not particularly local, it’s a cracking place and not as well know as the other beaches.

Are you a ‘gloomy-fog-over-the-castle’ or a ‘summer-on-Princes Street-gardens’ type?

Definitely gloomy fog over the castle! It reminds me of either spring, or autumn, which are my favourite seasons. Summer in Edinburgh is lovely, but too busy for my liking!

How would you introduce us to your career/life/passion?

I am director of a small forestry management company specialising mainly in timber harvesting. I run a full time harvesting crew, consisting of two machines, and bring in other contractors as required. I also do various ‘hands on’ jobs, such as smaller sites which are a bit trickier to fell and extract timber from. Most work is agricultural based, or is on country estates, hence the name ‘Agriforest’.

I set up the business in 2016, with little work in the diary (two jobs, to be precise) and I have never stopped since, which I am grateful for. We mainly deal with small areas of woodland, bringing them back into management, whether this be clear felling, thinning, or replanting. Some sites we end up doing all three! Other than work, life consists of mountain biking, walking the dog, horse riding, and a few other country related pursuits.

Is there a typical day?  What does it involve?

A typical day revolves around managing the work in hand: speaking to contractors, haulage firms (who deliver lorry loads of timber to sawmills), updating clients on how the sites are going, dealing with any queries the sawmills have, planning in deliveries for the following week, dealing with  changes in site conditions (such as weather), and looking at potential new work.

The paperwork element of my business is fairly heavy, so I try and avoid doing any during the day, particularly in winter as daylight is so precious, and most of my evenings are spent in the office. It’s not ideal, but it keeps most things up to date, and my free evenings are really appreciated as a result. Typical days are leaving the house at 6.30-7am, back at 6ish, then in the office until 10.

What’s your greatest achievement so far – personally or professionally?

Undoubtedly, it’s the business which I own and run. It’s a great source of pride when people compliment you through work you’ve done for them. I didn’t imagine being this far forward after just over three years. I only hope it continues the way it has, with significant amounts of repeat business and personal recommendations.

And when you’re not working? 

I usually spend most of my free time at home, either looking after the garden (which is far too big to manage the way I want it!) or working on my real passion in life, which are Landrovers!

Find out more about Douglas and agriforest at: www.agriforest.co.uk 

Follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/farmforestry/ 

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