Certainly Wood was established in 2006 and has grown significantly from processing and drying 1,000 tonnes of barn dried firewood to now, up to 20,000 tonnes of premier kiln dried firewood and making it by far the largest specialist producer in the UK. In addition, the Flamers and KindleFlamer natural firelighters are all made on site at the base in Hereford. Kiln dried kindling was initially made on site, but now imported due to labour and cost pressures.
The business set out to bring a more professional approach to what is a very traditional cottage industry, hoping to make it not only easier for customers to buy firewood in known quantities, but also of consistently high quality, hence the Woodsure Ready to Burn certification which is now even embedded in law as a legal requirement for all firewood retailers to only sell firewood that is approved under this scheme.
Working very closely with stove manufacturers and distributors, stove retailers and installers in the early days, the aim was to help educate customers about the importance of using dry wood and the right fuel for the wood burning stove. Crucial in so many ways, but often ignored. This has come a long way since we began and kiln dried logs are now fairly standard.
The business was set up by brothers George and Nic at the family farm in Hereford. George farmed at home with his father since leaving Cirencester Agricultural College, whilst Nic pursued a career initially in growing raspberries, then running a local soft fruit co-operative, and finally marketing for a larger co-op, before joining George in 2006 to set up Certainly Wood.
The farm grows cider fruit and blackcurrants for Ribena and with an early passion for trees, Nic and George’s father Hugh started growing poplar trees on the farm.
When Hugh married in 1957 he planted an area of poplars vowing to take his wife Jennifer on a world cruise when the trees reached maturity 25 years later, at which point he would sell them to Bryant & May for matches. Sadly the Bryant & May factory closed before the trees matured, so the dream never came true, however, his and George’s passion for growing poplar continued for many years, but now very few are grown.
About 50 years ago, Hugh bought a small machine from the local village that made kindling from waste pallets. Kindling production from poplar became one of the first diversification enterprises of the farm and George developed a way to dry the wood and started selling kindling to Tesco’s. Firewood then followed in a small way, but just ash which was dried in the old barns and sold to local retailers.
When Nic joined George it was agreed to set up a separate business to the farm. Nic, having recently done a post graduate diploma in marketing was keen to set up a brand and so Certainly Wood was born. Whilst George had developed a kiln to dry the kindling and now logs, Nic felt that this was a key selling point and no one had ever sold kiln dried firewood before.
Whilst the firewood still remains very much 100% British and sourced from within 100 miles of the factory, sadly the poplar kindling stopped in 2018 when prices for poplar rose significantly along with production costs forcing production to Ukraine. There was huge reluctance to take this step but pure economics led the change and the business needed to remain competitive and provide cost effective kindling to its customers.
However, there is a great story to the move to Ukraine for kindling. Back in the 90s when the farm grew brussels sprouts, runner beans, potatoes etc, harvest labour was sourced from Ukraine. Whilst one person in particular now works closely with George with provision of labour to Certainly Wood and other local Herefordshire businesses, the other has gone back to Ukraine. These two have set up a business at their home in Ukraine producing all of Certainly Wood’s kindling and wood wool rope too for the natural firelighters. It is great to be working so closely with people that worked here on the farm so many years ago.
The Flamers natural firelighters were discovered by George and Nic at a show in Italy back in 2013 where a German company were looking for new customers. The product was a novel idea and fitted perfectly with the Certainly Wood brand, so the brand of Flamers was born and sales started soon after in unique packaging. These were the first wood wool natural firelighters to be sold in the UK and it was not long before production was moved to Hereford to provide us with more control and the ability to increase. Volumes have increased steadily over the period and in 2020 George came up with the idea of a much longer Flamer to give a lot more firepower, so much so, that it was found that lighting a log fire no longer needed kindling. The new branded KindleFlamer was born and a patent obtained for selling in the UK. Both Flamers and KindleFlamers now have a strong focus for growth within the business as demand rises for more natural products.
- Always encouraging innovation- We encourage all staff to be creative and innovative in their ideas and thinking and we guarantee to listen.
- Environment and sustainability- We will do everything we possibly can to keep a focus on the needs of the environment and we will strive to achieve carbon neutrality.
- Absolutely brilliant customer service- We will be smiling on the phones to provide the ultimate customer service combined with excellent product knowledge
- Totally transparent- With staff, customers and suppliers we will always be honest, open and fair at all times. We will never pull the wool over anyone’s eyes!
- Fun- Our work place is one of fun and enjoyment, where people like to be having a laugh, but working hard!
In more ways than one, Certainly Wood is very much an industry leader. Primarily, it is the pioneer of kiln dried firewood in the UK. It was definitely the first in the UK to ever sell kiln dried, and it is probably the first in the world! There was certainly no evidence at the time of anyone selling kiln dried logs, and if that was not a big enough a step, the business made sure that not only are the kilns run on wood waste, but also much of the electricity used comes from solar panels.
Having discovered the best way to season wood for burning, and dry firewood fast, the business then worked with HETAS to set up a quality standard for firewood. It became the first firewood producer in the UK to become approved under the HETAS ‘Quality Assured Fuel’ scheme. With this came the beginning of standardisation for selling logs. All Certainly Wood’s logs are sold in small packs or bulk bags of a known and checked volume so customers know what they are buying every time. A move away from selling by weight or a ‘load’.
Seasoned firewood was traditionally sold by retailers in small nets, but with the confidence that Certainly Wood’s kiln dried logs are so dry they started to pack the logs in sealed plastic bags and in attractive branded packaging. Even the kindling is packed in boxes - a first for the market, making it much cleaner and convenient for both the retailer and the customer.
The company continues to innovate, making sure production costs are kept to a minimum and customers receive the best value, highest quality products on the market.
Finally, the company's Flamers and KindleFlamer natural firelighters are also produced in Herefordshire, the first ever natural firelighters to be made and sold in the UK starting back in 2013.