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Hyne Timber: Part of the Regions Heritage

23 Nov 2018

Richard Matthews Hyne - Founder of Hyne TimberHyne Timber was established in Maryborough back in 1882 by Richard Matthews Hyne (R.M. Hyne).

So who was this man and where did he come from? He had emigrated to Australia from England with his wife in 1864 as a qualified carpenter, bringing with him a six foot wide box full of tools.

Wanting to work hard and prosper, he became a successful builder and carpenter from the commencement of the Gympie gold rush. However, as a visionary man of great initiative, in 1870 he took on the gold rush’s most lucrative job of all; he became the publican of the Mining Exchange Hotel.

After a number of years living and working in the mining camp, he decided to move to Maryborough, acquiring the lease of the Royal Hotel.

He valued the Maryborough community, a value the company holds strong to this day.

He was immersed in civic affairs to improve education, health and other matters. He held the role of Mayor and was a highly respected man achieving many wins for the Wide Bay Region.

It was following the tragic death of his wife during the birth of his third child, that he completely changed the course of his life. While retaining the Royal Hotel freehold, he was no longer the licensee.

At this stage, there where several timber mills in Maryborough and R.M. Hyne, using his knowledge of the building trade, saw new opportunities. And so marked the beginnings of Hyne Timber, then called the National Saw & Planing Mill on the banks of the Mary River in Maryborough in 1882.

He raised finance for the mill from his own savings, from overdraft accommodation with the Bank of New South Wales and various family members. It is reported at some stage that he was asked whether he had a family crest, to which he was supposed to have replied; “If I ever had a family crest, it surely must have been an overdraft rampant over a mortgage quiescent.”

It wasn’t easy by any means, and the reliance on available ships to freight the timber was a significant threat to viability and competitiveness. However, a turning point was on the horizon in 1886 when R.M. Hyne bought the Mayflower schooner for 500 pounds. It was going particularly cheap given it had been declared a total constructive wreck, run aground on lady Elliot Island. R.M. Hyne hadn’t believed the schooner was quite the wreck the underwriters had declared and he was proved right. He even sold the cargo which came with the ship for 2000 pounds! Following some minor repairs, the ship sailed, full of timber, freighting significantly increased quantities and guaranteeing deliveries for the first time.

The Mayflower Schooner

With his ongoing focus and commitment to the growth and development of the region, he was elected as the local member in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. True to his visionary style, he introduced a Women’s Suffrage Bill, arguing strongly for gender equality. Unfortunately this was too visionary at that time and the bill was defeated.

He was successful however, in driving forest related policy such as the introduction of a 15% duty on imported timber.

More importantly, he introduced a successful motion that the government take immediate action in the replanting of forests and in the creation of a Department of Forestry.

Indeed, to this day, the land managed by HQPlantations which grows the company’s pine feedstock, is owned by the State and represents a critical part of the local forestry and timber extensive supply chain.

Six generations later, the company remains privately owned with over 300 employees in Maryborough and around 600 nationally.

Blood, sweat and tears have been poured in over the years while facing wars, floods, the Great Depression and the global financial crisis.

However, it emerges today as one of the largest softwood manufacturing companies in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest Glue Laminated Timber manufacturer. The Tuan Mill near Maryborough produces enough timber every day to stretch from Brisbane to Bundaberg and the company owns another large mill in Tumbarumba, NSW.

So what is the secret to success? In the words of 5th generation Executive Director James Hyne, “the success of contemporary timber manufacturing in Australia must be largely credited to our ancestors before us who had the foresight to establish the pine plantations. How we continue to evolve and maximise the manufacture of plantation pine continues to rely on the innovation and dedication of our valued employees.”