Otter Group stabilises with Airco acquisition

Airco Fasteners recently confirmed that it has acquired the Otter Group, one of Australia’s largest suppliers of nails, screws and wire products.

With the acquisition confirmed on April 27, Airco Fasteners has officially taken over the Otter Group business, which includes the Fastening, Interbath, and Intergarden divisions. Otter went into receivership in March and negotiations by Airco to buy the group began soon after.

Airco Fasteners director, Brett Jamieson, said that the actual increased product offering that Otter would bring was really the key interest for Airco.

Otter Logo

Although Mr Jamieson would not disclose the amount Airco paid for Otter, he said that there were fantastic synergies that both brands would bring from the acquisition.

“Customer bases that Otter has will be able to access the Airco range now and Airco customers will be able to access the Otter range. Otter in the past has been quite a retail based product, whereas Airco and Senco – especially Senco – is trade based, which will now give Otter a good lift into the trade market. It is really that our offering to these customers might be a very similar customer listing; however, the offering given to them is much larger,” Mr Jamieson said.

“Although it is too early to detail plans for the future, at this stage we wanted to reassure the continuity of supply of the Otter product. Otter’s field representation will not decrease but will significantly increase with the combination of both teams.”

“Otter will now have warehouse distribution in each state, whereas previously it just had distribution in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. It also now has the addition of Airco warehousing in Sydney, Townsville and Adelaide. It will also have warehousing nationally, which will be much more effective,” Mr Jamieson said.Airco_Logo_Flat

Airco national marketing manager, Jimmy Santos said the acquisition had also widened and pushed the value of both of the brands forward and much higher in the minds of distributers and end users.

“There are definitely gaps that we had, and there are definitely gaps that Otter had. Now we can actually give a comprehensive offering to a customer,” he said.

Otter Group history

The Otter brand was born in the 1950’s, by John Otter, who was employed as a sub-contractor on housing commission estates in Melbourne. In 1959 Otter purchased a smal
l machine to manufacture Chain-Link fabric which was when Otter Fencing Pty Ltd, was born.

Otter found a point of difference by offering superior quality and reliability. Not long afterwards, Otter bought four nail machines and the second company, Otter Nails Pty Ltd, was established.

In 1987, Otter acquired the nail division of the British United Shoe Machinery Company. Otter went on to acquire many businesses including: the Titan brand, from BHP Fastener Products Pty Ltd in 1996, Metric Agencies & Industries Pty Ltd which marketed the well-known ScrewFix brand in 1999 and National Steel Nails from Mayne Industries Pty Ltd in 2004.

Otter Group had an annual turnover of $27 million prior to entering receivership.

Airco Fasteners history

Established in 1994, Airco Fasteners is an Australian owned company that has provided quality fasteners and tools to the construction industry for over 20 years. Airco is still run and managed by the Jamieson family who have been in the fastener business for three generations and have been pivotal in shaping the industry to what it is today, according to the company.

Airco Fasteners continues to strive to understand the needs of users and distributors to provide tools and fasteners that are suitable to the Australian market. This singular pursuit has developed Airco to become one of the largest and most diversified collated fastener companies in Australia.

Airco’s acquisitions over the years include FJ House Pty Ltd in 2006, as well as the exclusive rights to distribute the SENCO brand. It was also owner of the Colt Compressor brand in 2009 which was acquired from the Nylex Corporation.

The company’s brands include Airco, Senco and Colt Compressors.

AnkaScrew™ WERCS – Faster, easier, stronger

Trades are fast moving towards screw-in anchoring solutions for fixing into concrete, brick and hollow or solid block, ITW Proline recently reported.

The Ramset™ AnkaScrew™ WERCS range of products are the trusted trade solution for providing optimum performance, according to the company, who reported that this has been proven in trade and construction projects such as fixing frames and metal beams to concrete, external balustrading, pallet racking and many more. The AnkaScrew™ WERCS are easy to install and are 100 per cent removable, with the product simply screws out, leaving an empty hole with no protruding metal parts to grind off. The AnkaScrew™ WERCS’ unique featu
re is its suitability for close-to-edge fixing as it does not expand and burst the surrounding substrate. The serrated washer face also offers superior clamping and prevents it from loosening in the substrate, ITW Proline recently reported.rsz_1_itw_ankascrew_balustrade_300dpi

The Ramset™ AnkaScrew™ WERCS are available in a range of sizes, and in two types of finishes, including zinc for internal
applications and galvanised for external projects.

Bremick’s new compressed sheet screw

After extensive research and testing, Bremick has just launched its new compressed sheet screw and has refined the popular Vortex design to produce a screw suitable for use with all types of compressed sheeting.

Testing was conducted on both traditional compressed sheet and the new light weight versions. Self-drilling performance, along with pull out strength was tested along-side screws currently available on the market.

Bremick  has also recently launched new pack sizes for its popular roofing and cladding screws. Due to popular demand Bremick has released 500 quantity boxes in its key Vortex roofing and 10×16 screw lines.rsz_bremick_new_500_box

“We found that these days, many tradesman only want to purchase what they need for the job. These new box quantities satisfy the jobs that fall between quantities of 100 and 1000,” a company spokesperson said.

More recently Bremick just released its new lateral point of sale solution.

“After conducting several focus groups we determined that what our customers, and indeed their customers wanted in a point of sale solution, had changed over recent years.”

“Store staff and customers want to be able to identify and find sub-categories quickly and easily.”

“Managers and owners do not want to compromise valuable selling space for signage, however, they want Point of Sale that encourages add-on sales, becomes the ‘silent salesman’ and is product centric. Bremick’s new lateral aisle signage addresses all of these concerns and is available via your local representative,” the spokesperson said.

Bremick’s ongoing support to independents

As independent hardware leaders around the world continue to preach the importance of differentiating ranges, Bremick’s national retail sales manager Rod Bran said that supporting suppliers that allow independent retailers to stand out and differentiate themselves in the industry is critical.

“Recently Bremick was proud to be awarded 2016 supplier of the year, at the Home Timber and Hardware Group Conference. This award is of particular merit because it is judged by each of the stores. Bremick’s commitment to supporting the independent stores has now been recognised for the second year in a row,” Mr Bran said.

“Bremick understands that flexibility and response times are a number one priority for independent trade stores of every colour, according to Mr Bran, who said the Bremick field sales team averages a staggering 24 years’ experience per person.

“It is this experience and knowledge that provides outstanding service to each of the markets independent outlets. Innovation is also important.”

“With critical differentiation, Bremick not only provides an alternative offer but also continues to innovate and launch unique products. This gives the independent retailer even more points of difference,” he said.

More recently, Bremick has launched over 20 new screw lines with more to come in the next few months, according to the company.

Hold fast to merchandising basics

Most in-store displays of adhesives are a jumble of small, tightly packed hang-sell packets, each riddled with more fine print than a legal contract! So, how are customers meant to differentiate between products? JOHN POWER considers some merchandising solutions.

Common household or trade adhesives are amongst the most complex non-mechanical products in any hardware store; and yet, they’re also amongst the smallest individually packaged items on the shelves.

This unfortunate discrepancy poses a fundamental challenge to both retailers and manufacturers – how to communicate a lot of vital practical and marketing information within a very small space!

Take a look at a typical hardware store adhesives display and the problems are readily apparent:

  1. A) Products are generally presented according to brand, rather than product class or type, creating unpatterned visual cues for customers.
  2. B) Fundamental category divisions like epoxy, super glue, PVA, hot glue or polyurethane are not defined or explained.
  3. C) Most product information is presented on the reverse side of packaging, meaning customers have to slide packets off pegs – and then on again – to glean basic details.
  4. D) Hang-sell displays inevitably become messy and confused, with items frequently repositioned incorrectly or left off pegs altogether.
  5. E) Supposedly helpful keywords like ‘wood’, ‘plastics’ or ‘ceramics’ seem to appear on 90 percent of all products.
  6. F) Different brands emphasise different product characteristics; for instance, one manufacturer might highlight ‘applications’, another might focus on ‘strength’ values, while another might prioritise suitable ‘materials’.
  7. G) There is no mechanism to lead a customer from a ‘good’ product to a ‘better’ one; for instance, a customer wanting to repair a shoe might select a craft glue bearing the word ‘leather’, whereas a superior option might be a specialist contact adhesive for footwear.

No wonder initial reactions of ‘spoiled for choice’ rapidly degenerate into ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’!

Details are important

Packaging is the primary focal point for customers seeking vital information about an adhesive and its nominal uses.

Issues of importance to a customer include: bond strength, suitability for bonding particular materials, heat tolerance, indoor or outdoor application, brittleness or flexibility, transparency, capacity to be painted or stained, toxicity levels, environmentally friendly ingredients, expansion or retraction traits, curing and setting times, ease of application, single substance or two-part mix, durability and first aid advice.

With such a dizzying array of details to address, it is unsurprising that different manufacturers have come up with their own methods to convey a lot of information quickly. The best packaging presentations, one might argue, make the most of tables, graphics, dot point lists, high-impact photos and well-chosen keywords to help inform customers about salient product characteristics in a non-hierarchical manner. As we will see later, retailers can certainly apply some of these lessons to their own in-store display techniques.

First of all, let us look at some of the cleverest packaging presentation techniques designed to make customers choose the right product every time.

Photos, tables and graphics

A great photo or graphic is the most direct tool for pointing a customer in the right direction. For instance, the packaging for a product like Soudal’s Soudafix CA 1400, which is a high-performance chemical anchoring resin, bears a simple image of a metal weight suspended by a chain from a concrete ceiling. The metal block depicts a ‘1,400kg’ symbol. So, what does this uncomplicated picture convey? Answer: the customer can tell instantly that this is a heavy-duty product designed for demanding structural applications in concrete or masonry settings, with a tolerance up to 1,400kg in mass: that’s a lot of valuable product information gained from one little picture.

Similarly, Parfix’s Epoxy Adhesive portrays a close-up encircled image of a wooden furniture knob, with a yellow line pointing to its ‘destination’ on a chest of drawers. Combined with the ‘Maxi Strength’ tagline, it is immediately obvious to a novice that this is a tough product designed for (at least) wood-to-wood applications that can withstand rigorous pushing and pulling forces.

Again, it’s a superb way of showcasing a litany of details in an easily digestible fashion. We often take such diagrams for granted, but design teams devote an incredible amount of work to the creation of these kinds of visual guides.

Another winner is SIKA’s high-strength multipurpose polyurethane glue, which also uses directional graphics superimposed over images of a material (in this case timber) to highlight a typical application, such as bonding floor planks. Proximate keywords like ‘Ideal for Woodworking’ help complete the message, supported by abutting dot point text boxes itemising suitable bonding materials and principal product attributes.

Over to the retailer

But there are some problems with these ‘product-specific’ solutions, aren’t there? And this is where the retailer must take charge of in-store merchandising.

For instance, the above wood-related examples showcase two very different technologies (two-part epoxy, as well as polyurethane) to complete wood-based projects. Unfortunately, a customer seeking a solution for a woodworking project may well be confused about which product to choose.

At this point it is important for the retailer to take a step back and understand that product-specific directions for use are all very well, but they do nothing to explain the existence or purpose of different classes of product or the main differences between them.

So, as an educative guide for customers, all adhesives departments should set aside a small amount of wall space to show:

  1. Definitions of the main classes of adhesives, including polyurethanes, ‘super glues’, two-part epoxies, hot glues, as well as PVAs (non-waterproof through to waterproof), etc.
  2. Suggested generic product types for specific tasks.

This kind of elementary information is usually lacking in adhesives departments because retailers are reluctant to show any level of favouritism to particular brands, which may dominate one or more categories; retailers may also be reluctant to suggest a qualitative hierarchy of product types. Equally, there is little incentive for manufacturers to participate in an explanation of all product categories when they may only represent a few of them.

Nevertheless, retailers can only benefit from presenting this kind of basic information to customers in their own style, hopefully adopting the same kinds of tabular listings and pictorial guides that appear on the best packaging of individual products.

Charts, posters, tables, family trees and similar illustrative devices are worth their weight in gold when conveying general information swiftly and clearly.

Another popular technique is to showcase the ‘defining features’ of generic classes of product, perhaps assembled according to major attributes like strength, appropriate bonding materials, water resistance, flexibility and temperature tolerance.

By offering DIY customers, in particular, a starting point from which to make meaningful purchasing decisions, the result can only be enhanced customer satisfaction.

Depending on wall space, additional illustrations of specific projects undertaken with different classes of adhesive could lead to better project results, less in-store discussion time with staff, and greater customer familiarity with the whole adhesives department – and that can only be a good thing.

Bostik Australia raises brand profile and visibility

Globally, Bostik has embarked upon new marketing and promotional initiatives that will not only raise its brand profile, but also its visibility to consumers.

The goal was to introduce Bostik’s new viLayout 1sual identity and brand positioning, according to Bostik Australia Pty Ltd managing director, Andrew Cullen.

“Our new logo features a gecko, renowned for their remarkable bonding abilities that allow them to cling to almost any surface. The new logo symbolises Bostik’s ‘smart adhesive’ solutions,” Mr Cullen said.

“Being part of a global company that operates with 4,800 employees in more than 40 countries, we have access to a large scale global intellectual product base. Much of the work we have been doing in the last year has revolved around how we can better capitalise on this global capability, and continue to bring and develop  innovative and exciting products to our customers  in Australia. Needless to say, the opportunities for Bostik Australia are endless,” he said.

Bostik also reported that it has been working hard on the innovation pipeline, recently launching a number of new product ranges.

“These include Bostik Laybond – a new range of soft flooring adhesives for carpets and vinyl flooring, Bostik Primesil Designer Silicone – a premium quality range of silicones to match the most popular coloured grouts, Bostik Fire Rated Expanda Foam range, and Bostik Primeseal – a new generation of rapid setting, waterproofing membranes. These new products are just the beginning of our innovation program, with many more planned for launch in the near future,” Mr Cullen said.

“In addition to our new products, we have launched a new outdoor billboard advertising campaign featuring our new logo and gecko; located in high profile locations in all capital cities across Australia. From the feedback we received, it has certainly captured the public’s imagination and interest in our new branding,” he said.

Point of difference

“While it is not uncommon to hear the words ‘smart adhesives’ being used around the organisation, the real question is, what does this mean for our customers and the broader market? The answer is actually quite simple: We are endeavouring to be ‘smart’ at everything that we do. This means we are looking at every part of our business to see how we can improve and do things better, so that we can produce even better products, give better customer service, leading to improved overall customer satisfaction,” Mr Cullen said.rsz_bostik_primesil

“We feel that this customer focused approach, coupled with clever marketing activity will benefit our customers, and this is something that our entire organisation is aware of and truly believes in,” he said.

When looking at trends in the market, Mr Cullen said there is certainly an obvious change in consumer lifestyle preferences that is leading to a change in the way consumers partake in DIY and DIFM (Do It For Me) services.

“We are seeing strong demand and growth in smaller multi-unit apartments and townhouses that has occurred for a number of reasons. Certainly inner city lifestyle preferences and housing affordability play a large part in how people decide where and how to live.  In turn, this has had an impact on the amount of new builds of free standing properties on larger parcels of land.”

“Conversely, there has been increased activity around housing renovations. Our focus at B
ostik is to understand the challenges and opportunities in the market and how that translates into innovative adhesive solutions that allow the industry to better capitalise on these trends,” he said.

Although there is some uncertainty surrounding the Australian economy and changes that have occurred within the industry, according to Mr Cullen there is great cause to be optimistic about the profitability of the industry.

“The market is definitely growing, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. In recent years, we have seen a buoyant residential and commercial construction market, coupled with more households undertaking DIY home improvement renovations than ever before. We are optimistic that these trends will continue into the near future, and this gives us confidence to continue our investment plans to cater for this growth,” he
said.

“The hardware industry has certainly experienced a great deal of change over the years as competition increases in an effort to win over an increasingly demanding end user and consumer. At Bostik, our aim is to understand our customers and their objectives better, so that we can support them in their efforts,” Mr Cullen said.

While also touching on inconsistencies in standards throughout Australia, Mr Cullen said that regardless of what Australian Standards exist for its products, the company takes the position that its products should always meet or exceed those standards in order to ensure it provides its customers and end users with consistent quality products.

Future initiatives

Looking into the year ahead, Mr Cullen said Bostik’s recent billboard advertising was only the start of the exciting marketing activities the company had planned for the year ahead.

“A few weeks ago we also started advertising our brand at various AFL and NRL stadiums, which we believe is the perfect media vehicle to reach a huge audience of tradies and DIYers. The LED boundary signage now includes our new logo and gecko with the tag lines ‘Smart Adhesives’ and ‘Stick with Bostik’. It is generating huge awareness for our brand and business in Australia, which we think will strongly resonate with our customers and target market,” Mr Cullen said.

The benefits of MS Hybrid Polymer adhesives

The adhesive market is moving away from traditional polyurethane adhesives and heading more towards MS Hybrid Polymer adhesives, according to Soudal’s national head of sales, Scott Robinson, who said this trend is occurring for two main reasons.

“Firstly polyurethanes need to be used in conjunction with either mechanical fixings or double-sided tape. This is not only expensive but also time consuming. Secondly, polyurethanes contain isocyanates, which are carcinogenic and applicators are becoming aware of the risk involved,” Mr Robinson said.

rsz_gorilla_family_of_products_orange_backgroundMS Hybrid Polymers technology was developed in Japan more than 40 years ago and Soudal’s headquarters in Belgium realised very early the benefits of this technology, which is also why they have been manufacturing them for over 30 years.

“During this period of formulating, manufacturing and supplying MS Hybrid Polymer adhesives, sealants and construction foams around the world, Soudal’s expert research and development chemists made ground breaking discoveries in a partnership with raw material providers and SMX® Polymer was born,” he said.

SMX® Polymer is a patented exclusive technology and just some of the advantages of SMX® Polymer over those still using the original MS Polymers include:

  • Higher tensile strength
  • Higher shear strength
  • Options for initial tack level from standard to high tack (140kg’s per m2) or extreme tack (400kg’s per m2)
  • Options for level of flexibility with a product that remains elastic
  • Options for speed of cure from three to 24 hours

All these advantages mean Soudal has the solutions to eliminate or reduce mechanical fixing and the use of double-sided tapes, according to Mr Robinson.

The Soudal FixALL range of sealants and adhesives was launched in Australia over six years ago and in that short time has built a reputation for a product that stands up to its claims, according to the company.

The range includes:

–  FixALL Flexi – is multi use for sealing, bonding and filling with 750 per cent has the highest flexibility in its class

–  FixALL Crystal – also multi use for sealing and bonding with a clearness that has to be seen to believe

–  FixALL High Tack – the strongest adhesive sealant in the market where 10cm2 of adhesive will hold 320 kilograms

–  FixALL Turbo – the fastest one-part adhesive on the market that’s hand tight in 20 mins and cured in three hours

–  Fix ALL X-treme Power the latest addition to the range is the revolutionary new ultra-high grip SMX Polymer based flexible adhesive with unsurpassed initial tack, can be held immediately after application

Award winning product

Soudal’s Fix ALL X-treme Power also recently won the ‘Best Product of the Year’ award 2015 – 2016 of Belgium within the category ‘adhesives and sealing products’ and the following criteria was used to establish the scores of the winning products:

  • Price/quality ratio
  • Product presentation
  • Ease of use
  • Repeat sales

A final impressive feature of the Fix ALL X-treme Power is Soudal’s new ultra-high grip SMX Polymer based flexible consumer adhesive with unsurpassed initial tack, can also  be held immediately after application.

Henkel grows through innovation and its extensive portfolio

As a global leader in brands and technologies and selling into over 39 countries, Henkel’s key to success is via its innovative products and vast product portfolio.rsz_loctite_go2_glue50ml

Under the Loctite® brand, Henkel offers a broad choice of superglues with the most advanced formulations and innovative, convenient packaging, enabling the consumer to bond a wide variety of materials easily and durably, according to the company.

In accordance with its innovation strategy, Henkel recently upgraded all superglue formulas to be water or dishwasher resistant. It has also successfully managed a step beyond superglues with the launch of its new, all-purpose generation of glues that combines strength with flexibility. Go 2 Glue is a true all-purpose glue that delivers the power of two technologies to create durability and versatility. Mixing the strength of polyurethane and the versatility of polyoxysilane creates the best formula for repairing, crafting and building jobs, Henkel recently reported.

The Loctite range of sealants has also been designed specifically for use in bathrooms, kitchens, windows and even on outdoor applications such as door frames and gutters. Loctite offers a full range of powerful construction adhesives that are both easy to use and convenient for all bonding, assembling and repair jobs. Construction adhesive, Loctite Power Grab, also has as instant grab and is designed as a high strength adhesive, according to Henkel.

More recently Henkel introduced two new brands into the consumer adhesive market, including Pattex and Bull Glue. A comprehensive range of products have been released under the Pattex rsz_pattex_100pct_stagebrand, including user friendly tubes of sealants and construction adhesive through to contact adhesives and superglue. The hero of the range is 100 per cent glue, which is a gel structured adhesive combining flexibility and high strength tack for all small repairs in and around the house.

Henkel’s second new brand is Bull Glue, a comprehensive opening price point adhesive range that features dynamic packaging with easy to identify product labelling.