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Who's Who


 Geoff Rhodes FIMMM MIOD  |  IOC President

Geoff has had a very interesting career in timber trade sales and marketing and is particularly well known for his pioneering work, initially driving the introduction of MDF from the USA into the British Isles and then for more than 35 years, for the significant expansion in the use of MDF in the UK and in many other international markets. As sales and marketing director for Medite Europe, Willamette Europe and then Weyerhaeuser Europe he had responsibility for establishing one of the most distinctive and innovative brands within the European timber industry and for developing an ever expanding, added value multi-million-dollar turnover business. Subsequently, as Marketing and Business Development Director for Coillte Panel Products, he actively drove and continued the brand extension and led the critical and well-established process of new product development.

He has always believed in the value of strong and dynamic timber trade organisations and to that end is a former President of the Fibre Building Board Federation (FIDOR), the European Association of MDF Manufacturers (EMB) and the Timber Trade Federation (TTF). He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, (the global network for professionals in the materials cycle).

Today Geoff runs his own specialist forest products and international trade consultancy - Geoff Rhodes Associates. He has an interest in providing research for international trade, freelance journalism and promoting educational initiatives within the sector. Geoff was appointed Chair of Edinburgh Napier University's Forest Products Research Institute (FPRI) in 2011 and has played a key role for the University in developing industry funding for Post Graduate MSc scholarships.

Geoff lives in Essex and is a Liveryman of Carpenters' Company in London. He was also a 'Games Maker' volunteer at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in a part of London so closely associated historically with the timber trade.


Gary Smith FIOC

Gary’s career started when he left school in 1979 and applied for a trainee carpenter position at R W McKay & Partners, Plumstead. As with all trainees then, you made tea, ran errands to the shops and bookies and always got the worst jobs. One of the first was using a hand scraper to clean oak; his fingertips and palms turned deep purple due to the tannin in the oak. After that, the company started making grandfather clocks from pre-veneered chipboard (fine quality, not) and he had to mix the shoe polish with putty to glaze the doors so they matched in colour! At the same time, Gary attended night school at Erith College, studying Carpentry & Joinery City & Guilds Craft and Advance Craft; his education and skill being honed due to his mentor and lifelong friend, a bench joiner called Ken Watling. Ken took him aside and showed him the ropes, including setting out full size rods and a few tricks that definitely weren't taught at night school. Gary went on to become foreman and the company branched out into shopfitting, including upholstery; at that time refurbing pubs for Courage’s Brewery which was then based at Shad Thames near Tower Bridge as well as various Ravels shoe shops.

In 1992, McKays went into liquidation due to the recession and Gary moved on to spend 14 years at the Splinter Group, based at Charlton, starting as a senior maker. There he learnt veneering and inlaying - making boardroom tables, reception desks and high-end furniture. At that time, you did all your own machining - made the piece, loaded, drove the van to site and installed, seeing the item through from start to finish.

McKays had a drawing team who came direct from university and produced lovely detailed workshop drawings. Unfortunately, you could not make anything from their drawings as the construction was completely wrong. The carpenters would look at the design, see what they were making, throw the drawing away and make the item. Management ultimately got fed up and made all the senior makers drawers (with an afternoon training on AutoCAD). They purchased a CNC router and beam saw which took Gary into programming the machines and optimiser; he was now a pre-production manager. Gary later moved on to two other companies - firstly M2 and then back to the Splinter group which had by then become Studio Caparo.

Gary joined the IOC in 2008 and attended central section meetings. Before long he was involved with other members with a similar passion and love for the industry. Through their encouragement, he has held the roles of Regional Chairman, Member of the Membership Committee and IOC Board member.

When Studio Caparo closed in 2012 Gary decided to go it alone and started his own company as a freelance CAD designer, mainly working for joinery companies. He tends to take the designer/architect’s scribbles/drawings, survey the location then re-design the items into workshop drawings with a complete list of components and ironmongery required so the joinery companies actually understand what to make!


 Paul Preston BSc, ACIPD, FIOC, TIMMM, LCGI, RSci

Qualified with Carpentry and Joinery Advanced Craft, FTC, ONC, HNC and BSc in Building, Paul managed progress, costs, quality and safety on construction sites, teaching building science and calculations part-time in FE and subsequently in industrial training centres as an NVQ assessor and internal verifier. He developed resources, facilities and the teaching and assessment materials for centres, meeting CITB and City & Guilds requirements.

As construction Training and Placement Manager for the Chamber of Commerce and gaining an NVQ4 in Learning and Development, Paul developed centre policy and procedures to meet Inspectorate requirements, successfully implementing employer engagement and equality policies. He forged reciprocal best practice between similar organisations, including schools, and ensured employer engagement with course curricula. Paul wrote a bid for and managed a county wide Initial Assessment project, successfully uniting all providers in Nottinghamshire.

Working for Skills Councils in furniture and wood, Paul managed a number of high-level national projects for the Department for Education and Skills: Occupational mapping; National Occupational Standards for the wood and furniture industries; Upskilling project, Credit rating of the wood qualifications in England and Scotland (QCF and SCQF); Set the Rules of Combination for wood qualifications; Developed and steered National Apprenticeship Frameworks (now Standards) through the UK government ensuring provision of progression routes. Paul populated the Proskills interactive careers website with progression routes for occupations in wood machining, furniture making, sawmilling, etc.

Paul has quality-assured centres in the wood and wider raw materials cycle, promoting the use of exciting teaching. As a registered scientist (RSci), he set the national examination papers and managed the marking team for qualifications in wood science.

Paul holds a suite of units pertinent to teaching and learning in the wood industry including: Learning Styles, Designing learning programmes, Psychometric testing, and the Key Skills Assessor Award.

With 40 years in the Work-Based Learning sector at every level, Paul has wide experience in project management, partnership and stakeholder development with educators, government, regulators, employers, trade associations, professional bodies and learners.


 Martin Corton FIOC

Martin spent 4 years as a carpentry and joinery apprentice with Wright Ruffle- Gt Bentley Essex covering all aspects of bench joinery and went onto receive a City & Guilds Craft certificate and Advanced Craft certificate.

He then spent 2 years working on Site carpentry in London as a self-employed price work carpenter, followed by 11 years as a carpentry contractor providing carpenters for all manner of site carpentry and joinery projects covering shop fitting, commercial unit work, bar and restaurant fit out, residential and communal housing schemes. At any one time there were 20-25 carpenters on the books. Scope of projects undertaken included circular shuttering at the University of Essex, public sector works such as the MCTC in Colchester, Essex University residential/educational area schemes, local housing association work and residential housing for companies such as Higgins Homes and Berkeley Homes.

Martin then went onto work on higher value projects covering all aspects of first and second fix carpentry, hand cut roofs, truss roofs, joist and carcase work, higher level second fix work/joinery fitout and furniture fit out to shopfitting/bar and restaurant work.

At the age of 33, Martin discovered wood flooring for a project at home and set about a journey of discovery for all aspects of wood flooring. His company has been a partner to Kentucky Wood Floors in the USA for 6 years. Martin has spent the last 20 years with the world’s leading wood flooring innovators from Holland learning about burning, tumbling, scrapping, engineering, distressing, supply chains, manufacturing, colouring with natural pigments, iron salts, reactive systems, hybrid oils. Understanding grades of material, regional differences and techniques between countries, all technical aspects of installation work and sub floor preparation - from floating, to full bed systems, dpm systems and self-levelling preparation, adhesives types and system requirements and gaining a clear understanding of laminated ply sub floors and particle board sub floors.  Projects undertaken have covered every type of wood flooring currently produce today. Overlay in strip, parquet and panel format, solid plank, parquet and laser inlay marquetry, engineered strip plank and parquet. Part of Martin’s flooring life has been to learn the art and craft of floor sanding and finishing; a very different craft from installing and fitting.

Current partnerships are with Biehrer, Germany who produce the world’s longest and widest engineered material. Geographical area for Biehrer is the UK, the Middle East and the Far East. Partner to Berti Pavimenti the world’s leading producer of laser inlay marquetry floors; Timberline, considered to the number 1 manufacturer in Holland.

Martin has notable projects such as Central Methodist Hall Westminster, five Worshipful Company Halls including the Carpenters, as well as City & Guilds’ HQ, London.



 John Taylor MBE MA MSc FCGI  |  IOC Vice President

John was appointed to the board of the IOC by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters in 2003, at a time of transition in the Institute’s management arrangements and has been instrumental in ensuring the future success of the Institute alongside alongside William Avery and later Geoff Rhodes.

John grew up in a family craft business, with a hammer and chisel in hand! His early career was in the Royal Engineers and involved the supervision and management of soldiers. John told us “I can turn my hand to most practical craft skills, and was fortunate to have had a workshop practice course as part of my Cambridge University engineering training, although the only formal recognition of my craft credentials has come much more recently through Fellowship of the City & Guilds London Institute.”

Following his 30 years with the Royal Engineers, his career has since centred around his long-standing interests in traditional building skills and has brought him into close contact with both public and voluntary sector bodies in the heritage sector. He was Chief Executive of the British Urban Regeneration Association for five years, which provided a fascinating overview of inner-city renewal programmes, and was subsequently appointed Director of the Building Crafts College - a post he held until his retirement. In retirement, John serves the sector as a member of the Carpenters’ and Masons’ Companies craft committees, Trustee of the City & Guilds of London Art School, Chairman of the Livery Companies Skills Council and a Board member of the National Heritage Training Group, the HLF Building Traditional Skills programme, and the Livery Companies Apprenticeship Scheme. 

John’s key role with the IOC, aside from his close links with the Carpenters’ and Masons’ Companies and his chairmanship of the Carpenters’ Craft Competition is to act as an ambassador for the institute in its dealings with outside organisations. “It strikes me that the IOC offers unparalled access to world class expertise in matters wood.”


Marcus Jahrling FIOC

Since leaving college, he has been involved in every aspect of carpentry and joinery, from working on large civil engineering projects like the Jubilee extension at Stratford International Station and building bridges and tunnels on the M11 link road to working on heritage projects, restoring grade one and two listed buildings as well as building exhibitions at The Imperial War Museum and The British Museum and working at London theatres such as The London Palladium, The Royal Opera House and The Royal Albert Hall.

In 2016/2017 he worked on restoring a grade one listed building “The Ned Hotel” 27-35 Poultry next to the Bank of England in London which used to be Midland Bank’s headquarters and main London Midland bank branch. The building was designed by architect Sir Edwin “Lanseer” Lutyens (known to his friends as Ned), hailed the most important British architect since Sir Christopher Wren. The building has now been converted into a five-star 250 room hotel. Marcus’s role involved lovingly restoring each item of original joinery including the original beautifully ornate hand carved vestibules, to its former glory. Most of the original joinery was walnut, a joy to work with. The building boasts eight restaurants, a rooftop swimming pool and “The Goldfinger Bar” which used to be the safe deposit rooms.

Marcus then moved onto a role with OD Projects Ltd as Senior Construction Manager. The company specialises in high end residential builds to restoring grade one listed buildings and five-star hotels.

In between these major roles Marcus built the lectern that HM the Queen gave her speech on when opening The Great Court at the British Museum, designed by Architect Sir Norman Foster. He has also worked with celebrities including Olly Muirs, building his props for the X Factor shows at Wembley and built props for the late great magician Paul Daniels, which he used on stage, as well as building the hospitality suite at the Chelsea Flower Show for the main sponsor M&G Investments where HM the Queen officially opens The Chelsea Flower Show.

In 2016 Marcus completed his NVQ Level 6 in construction site management and also gained full membership to the Chartered Institute of Building, giving him Chartered site manager status (MCIOB) along with membership to the City & Guilds Institute (MCGI). He has additionally completed his City & Guilds Level 7 Professional Recognition Award in Management and Leadership and has gained associated membership to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, working towards full Chartered Surveyor status.


Alan Creasey FIOC

Alan has had a long and varied career within the Construction Industry starting with an indentured apprenticeship, followed by an Assistant Site Foreman role at Oliver Staines & Sons Ltd, Fincham. He then moved to the East Anglian R G Carter Construction Group, working his way up from Assistant Estimator/Building Technician at R G Carter King’s Lynn Ltd to General Manager and Heritage Consultant, R G Carter Heritage before joining Fisher & Sons (Fakenham) Ltd as General Manager and then Technical Manager. In 2010 Alan moved to QRC (Norfolk) Limited, a Building Technical Services Consultancy.

One of Alan’s roles as an Industry Consultant is the teaching and recruitment of Learners and Apprentices including theory, knowledge, understanding and practical skills in all disciplines of Wood Occupations - Heritage Skills, along with general Construction Courses and Conservation of Buildings.

The Traditional Building Skills Company: For the past 9 years Alan has been one of the teachers/trainers/invigilators at the TSC for their courses based at Clifford, near Hay-On-Wye, Herefordshire and at the Tywi Centre in Carmarthenshire, as well as other approved centres for the short-course qualification. During this time, he has also carried out training and assessment of Heritage Skills at Level 3 in Wood Occupations in Northern Ireland for CITB NI at their college base in County Antrim.

Alan’s involvement with the HSAP Level 3 (in Heritage Skills) Wood Occupations began a number of years ago. He was one of the co-writers of the scheme and has been employed by the TBSC to assist in the delivery of the course through the SLA current NSAC system since 2012. From time to time, Alan acts as a teacher and examinations officer for the two-day stand-alone Level 3 award Heritage Course: Understanding the repairs and maintenance of Pre-1919 Traditional Buildings.

For the past 6 years Alan has also been one of the teachers/trainers/invigilators at the Oak Frame Training Forum (OFTF) for their courses based at their centre in the Brickyardwood Barns, Brockley Lane, Bristol and at 16 King Street, Bristol (for certain of the theoretical short courses). He has been employed by the OFTF to assist in the delivery of two SAP schemes through the NSAC current SLA system since 2012: Structural Post and Beam Carpentry – to achieve NVQ Level 2 and Structural Post and Beam Carpentry – to achieve NVQ Level 3.

In addition to the above, Alan has designed and delivered several specialist short courses including: Advanced Carpentry Training – Tudor and Jacobean Windows – The Design, Theory and Manufacture of Victorian Roof and Lantern Lights – The Construction of Framed Oriel Windows – The Geometry Design and Manufacture of Advanced and Complex Cut Timber Roofing Systems.

In 2001, Alan was invited to join the National Heritage Training Group (formed by a joint initiative between English Heritage and The Construction Industry Training Board) representing one of the Main Contractors involved in the Conservation of Buildings. Soon after this time he gained a Fellowship within the Institute and thereafter represented the IOC on the NHTG’s Board as their Heritage Officer. Our connection with the NHTG remains very strong to this day – especially due to the passionate work of our very own John Taylor. 


Russell Dean FIOC LCGI 

Russell is an experienced practitioner and educator, he has over 30 years’ experience of working in the construction industry and has spent the last 16 years teaching and assessing at The Sheffield College in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Russell began his career as an apprentice in 1986 at Sheffield City Council’s Works Department, the first year spent in the Joiners Shop manufacturing hardwood and softwood windows, doors, and display cabinets. He then moved to new construction for the rest of his apprenticeship and for several years after, working on both domestic and commercial projects. He attended block release at Shirecliffe College in Sheffield, studying Carpentry & Joinery City & Guilds Craft and Advanced Craft, on completion of his apprenticeship he attended evening classes gaining the City & Guilds 600 series in Building Studies. Russell has also achieved ONC and HNC.

His path then took him to pre-painting programmes, planned maintenance and finally working on a maintenance depot undertaking repairs to occupied and vacant properties. One day he could be splicing a door frame, the next he could be erecting a Hipped end roof. For 15 years, Russell also worked on-call out of hours, completing emergency repairs to fire damaged properties including lock changes, boarding up windows and shoring up buildings. 

Russell says ‘I really enjoyed my time at the Works Department, the experience and training was second to none. Alf Rowney and Terry Brown my mentors and Kevin Keyes my Supervisor were fantastic they couldn’t do enough to help me, from taking extra time showing me the basics when I was a young keen sixteen year old to making sure I was still OK when I was in my twenties! I don’t think there was an area of Carpentry that I didn’t work on, formwork to roofing, Using green oak on listed buildings to renewing a window frame from a cradle at the top of a high rise block, the list could go on’

After developing a broad range of industry skills, Russell decided he wanted to share that expertise with the next generation to help them go further in employment and their careers.

As the College offers a broad curriculum that includes apprenticeships, vocational diplomas, A Levels, access courses, and foundation and honours degrees and works with around 2,400 employers, his role can be varied teaching from entry qualifications to HNC’s but mainly involves teaching and assessing students and apprentices studying timber and fenestration occupations from Level 1 to Level 3, and he is committed to continuing his professional development. Last year he erected a traditional, vaulted, hipped-end roof.

He is currently Chair of The Institute of Carpenters East Midlands section. As part of that role, Russell jointly organises a craft competition for college students in the region. 

Through the Institute of Carpenters, Russell was awarded the Master Carpenter Certificate in 2007. At that time, he was the youngest recipient to have achieved this accolade. 

Russell is approved by NOCN to be an End Point Assessor and Quality Assurer for the Apprenticeship standards, an extra part-time role which he hopes to start in the near future.

Outside work, Russell is a keen Martial Artist, holding black belts in different styles. He first started practising Karate back in 1984.

Russell says: “I have a good rapport with my learners, who are from diverse backgrounds, as I have been where they are now and through my teaching I am able to share with them my experiences of working in the industry. It is very rewarding to develop students’ skills and knowledge.”


Institute of Carpenters' board

John Taylor MBE MA MSc FCGI (Vice President)
Geoff Rhodes FIMMM MIOD (IOC President)
Gary Smith FIOC (Membership Chairman)
Paul Preston FIOC (CPD Chairman)
Marcus Jahrling FIOC 
Alan Creasey FIOC
Martin Corton FIOC
Russell Dean FIOC LCGI

Honorary Treasurer
William Avery MSc MCIOB MIOD

Head Office
Denise Tabone (Admin Manager)
Nici Simpson (Administrator)


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