Built To Last
Monaghans Timber & Building Supplies is the largest supplier of timber, hardware and building supplies in the Hawkesbury district of outer metropolitan Sydney, one of the largest growth corridors in Australia. Established in 1974 by a local builder named Bob Monaghan, the store today is owned by David Lane, also a qualified builder who retails his license to this day.
The Monaghans site is quite large – more than six acres – and it includes six major buildings. The main shop has a floor area of 1000 m² but combined with the other sheds and buildings the total floor space exceeds 4000 m². Business is heavily trade orientated, with about 75 percent of activity catering to trade. As you can probably imagine, this occupies the majority of floor and yard space. They employ more than 50 staff and can boast an extensive range of timber, plumbing products, and building supplies. Six forklifts are active on site at any given time and six trucks are always on the road, delivering all across the State and even as far as the Victorian border (their largest customer is actually based in Melbourne!).
Special services… unique worries
The Monaghans operation is impressive by any measure – more than 700 active builder accounts are serviced every month – but what really sets it apart is a unique range of specialised services. One of these is free building estimates. “It’s a free service and we have two qualified builders working as estimators,” says David Lyne. “Particularly serious DIYers and owner builders, but also trade builders, will take advantage of the service.” There is also a re-saw operation – a big saw mill that re-saws timber, dresses it, planes and shape it for builders, something of a rarity in Sydney these days. They also repair damaged tools and sharpen blades with a turnaround of about eight or nine days. Technology is also put to good use. Assistance in designing any structural timber component is offered through several engineer designed computerised programs, and the end result even comes with an engineer’s certificate verifying the design.
‘Dream homes’ is another nifty service available through an in-store computer program called Dreambuilder. The software creates conceptual 3d visuals of ‘dream’ homes and works on three levels of ‘difficulty’: starter, renovator and expert. The whole outlet is underpinned with a Computakey ‘Hardware Shoptalk’ system. This integrates with the Mitre 10 back end, automatically updates monthly software enhancements, and reduces printing and postage costs with an ‘e-Docs’ function. Indeed, while Monaghans offer very unique services, but unfortunately they have also had to deal with a unique set of problems. After all, how many store owners have had a freeway built through the middle of their land? Opening in September 07, the Hawkesbury Valley Way road was the culmination of 12 months of construction – and pure havoc for Monaghans! The Road Traffic Authority was, however, gracious enough to link the re-saw and bulk timber yard to the main yard – by building a tunnel big enough to accommodate a semi-trailer! However, in the true spirit of optimism, David says that having so much traffic flowing past is great for exposure.
Getting the message out
As with so many areas of NSW, the drought has been extensive, particularly in the outer areas near the Blue Mountains. “Ironically, this helped builders due to site access,” muses David on the fact that builders were actually getting their jobs done faster because there were so few rainy days preventing them from working on site. The garden centre, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite so well. “We’re forever offering water saving devices and products for gardens. Since the drought kicked in we’ve sold a lot of water tanks and pumps to take roof water,” he says. “The staff are also well qualified to advise on what is allowable in times of water restrictions.” In addition to Mitre 10’s extensive promotional campaigns, Monaghans direct much of their marketing at the trade, primarily in relationship marketing. “Our trade night is renowned as one of the best in the state. It attracts more than 250 builders,” says David. They also have popular builders breakfasts on the last Friday of each month. Significant community involvement – whether it’s supporting numerous sporting teams, the rotary club, schools and church groups, or local ‘P&C’ (parents and citizens) groups – is also commonplace, of which the ‘Fix Up Australia’ campaign in conjunction with rotary clubs over the Anzac long weekend was a good example.