Michael Lee’s appointment to GM signals commitment to making ‘What’s Next’

Going to market with a positioning statement ‘we make What’s Next’ is bold. It requires a commitment to always being on the bleeding edge. Cusp Building Solutions’ most recent appointment signals that they’re taking this position seriously and have every intention of fulfilling it.

There are three core skills required in a leader to ensure a timber manufacturing business fulfils that promise – a deep knowledge of the built environment, technical expertise in timber, and a thorough understanding of production. Very few people have the trifecta. Combine that with strong R&D experience, business acumen and the ability to lead people, and always making ‘What’s Next’ starts to sound a lot more attainable.

Michael Lee has been involved in timber research for nearly 40 years. Throughout his career he has either been conducting research or collaborating with research bodies, so he’s no newcomer to R&D.

A lot of what we do in research is conceptual and there’s a process to it. It might look like black magic but it’s science and simple thinking that govern everything we do. The magic happens by communicating the thinking well to the people who work for you.

Michael Lee
General Manager, Cusp Building Solutions

Michael has spent decades communicating with people at most levels within research, architecture, processing and industry leadership, which is a skill he sees being valuable at Cusp.

“There’s huge potential in the built environment to design a whole suite of timber elements that work together with other materials to achieve the most cost-effective and sustainable outcome. But it requires people to think differently about designing buildings,” he says.

According to Michael, not every building needs CLT or GLT, but every building needs timber. There should be timber solutions that service a larger part of the building sector and the community through, for example, sustainable building developments and social housing.

Cusp is well known for designing and manufacturing the world’s first hardwood CLT, and the world’s strongest CLT, but we’re far more than a single product.

Michael Lee
General Manager, Cusp Building Solutions

“This business is still in its infancy, and while we’ve already had a number of world firsts, I know the best is yet to come. We’re building a team going forward that can produce and deliver a variety of solutions for the built environment that will have a positive impact.”

The thing that really excites Michael about Cusp’s future is the Founder and Owner, Ron Goldschlager’s, vision for the business, which addresses a problem that Michael has been keen to see solved for decades – better utilisation of timber fibre.

“It might sound cliché, but for Ron, it’s not just about profit,” says Michael, “it’s about taking this idea to maturation for the betterment of the planet. How can you not want to support that?”

Michael explains that he has spent decades driving past the woodchip pile at the Burnie port thinking, there’s got to be a better use for fibre than that.

“I’m Tasmanian and I’ve worked most of my life here in the timber industry which I’ve seen diminish over time. We need to keep doing the things we already do so well, but we also need a new direction so that there is also growth and regional employment.

“There is a huge quotient of timber that will never make an appearance market and we’ve got to make that into something else, ideally something other than chips. As a state, I don’t think we should be reliant on that. It’s too high risk.”

Cusp CEO James Lantry said Michael is the perfect person to see Cusp through its next phase of growth.

“Cusp is about being on the front line of innovation in the built environment and who better to help us work on what’s next than Michael Lee. With over three decades of experience in both academia and industry, working in both timber research and working with processors to improve their operations, Michael’s technical expertise is exceptional.

Moving him from Operations Manager to General Manager was an easy decision. Our first phase was about getting the product right and we’ve done that.

James Lantry
CEO, Cusp Building Solutions

“Now Michael can help us facilitate the next stage of change and mentor our team to an outcome. We’re also really interested in developing the capability of our entire team and having Michael pass his knowledge on to others will allow us to sustainably run our business with a strong development curve into the future.”