AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL

Digital marketing & design services for independents and suppliers Search Engine Optimisation • Google Ads • Local SEO/Maps Management Team Training • Email Marketing • Creative Services Catalogue Design & Print Services • Social Media • Web Design www.relevance.com.au SINCE 1886 www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.139 No.4 Apr 2024

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DEPARTMENTS Newsmakers Features 4 Viewpoint 6 Retail Focus 12 Behind the Counter 14 US News 16 NZ News 18 Timber Update 28 News 32 New Products 21 A Team evolves through changing market Serving both the independent and big box markets, A Team Merchandising is excited for the year ahead as it continues to grow and evolve to meet local market demands. 23 Pioneer Hardware broadens service to booming categories Although Pioneer Hardware once serviced much of the independent hardware sector, the well-known merchandiser has now chosen to focus all of its resources and energy into the big green box. 14 Lowe’s gives back during Super Bowl weekend 16 N ZCB launches its new Apprentice Network 18 A ustralian Forest Product Association announces new Chief Executive Officer Digital marketing & design services for independents and suppliers Search Engine Optimisation • Google Ads • Local SEO/Maps Management Team Training • Email Marketing • Creative Services Catalogue Design & Print Services • Social Media • Web Design www.relevance.com.au SINCE 1886 www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.139 No.4 Apr 2024 Relevance FP Cover 04-24.indd 1 1/5/2024 11:25 am 31 6 21 23 About the Cover Relevance delivers digital marketing and design services for independents and suppliers. Schedule a free no-obligation call with one of our team members and we will help you with your marketing needs. For further information go to www.relevance.com.au APRIL '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 3

CAB Audited Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal are pleased to provide the articles contained in this publication to keep its subscribers up to date on issues which may be relevant to their businesses. This publication is supplied strictly on the condition that Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants are not responsible for any deficiency, error, omission or mistake contained in this publication, and Peach Media & Publishing and Australian Hardware Journal, its employees, agents, authors, editors and consultants hereby expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever nature to any person who may rely on the contents of this publication in whole or part. Published by Peach Media & Publishing A.B.N. 74 667 374 585 11 Rushdale Street, Knoxfield Victoria 3180 Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Editor: Christine Bannister Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Email: christine@glenv.com.au Journalists: E mily Morrison John Power Online Communications & Production: Justin Carroll Email: justin@glenv.com.au ADVERTISING Harry Rabiee Email: harry@glenv.com.au Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Mobile: 0403 000 444 ACCOUNTS Melissa Graydon Email: Melissa.Graydon@glenv.com.au SUBSCRIPTIONS Melissa Graydon $93.00 – 12 issues subs@glenv.com.au ART AND PRODUCTION Justin Carroll PRINTING Southern Impact Pty Ltd 181 Forster Rd, Mount Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: (03) 8796 7000 In this edition’s news section, you might come across a story that details the success of Lifeline’s annual 24-hour Giving Day, which was particularly eventful this year thanks to the ‘dollar matching’ efforts of the Buildcorp Foundation. With over $760,000 raised, the importance of supporting organisations such as Lifeline is now more crucial than ever particularly as men in the construction, mining and building industries are twice as likely to take their own lives than those working anywhere in Australia. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for men aged between 15 and 45, with an Australian construction worker dying by suicide every second day – that is 190 Australians taking their own lives every year within these sectors. Like many of you, I was appalled at these figures and left asking the question – why? After delving into a little research it seems that men working within these industries find it particularly difficult to discuss their feelings with colleagues, friends and family. In a tough, male-dominated industry the majority of workers are “alpha” males. Within this culture, there is a strong misconception that men need to be seen as tough and unemotional and feel as if they cannot reach out if they are feeling down. What we do know is those that who take their own lives often do it on impulse and show no signs of depression. Often they never discuss the hurt or pain they are feeling inside with anyone. The Buildcorp Foundation is to be commended for not only recognising the importance of supporting organisations such as these but financially supporting Lifeline so that it has the ability to embrace technology and offer around-theclock support. Although it has become easier for workers to access these services, so much more needs to be done to raise the awareness. Mentally healthy workspaces need to be created throughout these industries, and the stigmatism of being perceived as “weak” or “broken” when in need of emotional support needs to be abolished. The implementation of support programs, such as Mates in Construction, is vital with workshops held onsite offering emotional support and tips on how to reach out and also listen to a colleague should they reach out for help. The Australian Building and Construction Industry has implemented five key pillars within its Blueprint for Better Mental Health and Suicide Prevention which include: reducing the harmful impacts of work, providing mental health and suicide prevention literacy, facilitating early intervention and treatment, providing return to work and ongoing support, and promoting work’s positive impact on mental health. Never disregard the warning signs if you or a colleague are becoming depressed and/or anxious. Let’s drop the stigmatism around the need to remain silent when struggling emotionally and help our fellow workmates, customers, friends and family if they reach out. If you or someone you know needs support visit: www.lifeline.org.au or phone 13 11 14 or SMS 0477 13 11 14. Coming up… The May edition is set to feature AHJ’s popular Safety and Security, Adhesives, Sealants and Fillers feature and also its Fasteners feature. To be a part of the upcoming features contact Harry Rabiee: harry@glenv.com.au Christine Bannister - Editor

Left to right: I/N: 0389090, I/N: 0389088, I/N: 0458564 and I/N: 0458565

Virtual tool store dominates online space When Gary Kozhushnik first launched his online tool business, www.discounttrader.com.au, 17 years ago, he never would have imagined the impact it would have on the industry or predicted the rapid growth and impressive evolution it would undergo in such a short time. Business: Discount Trader (www.discounttrader.com.au) Owner: Gary Kozhushnik Location: Notting Hill, Melbourne Buying Group: Hardware and Building Traders (HBT) Establishing an online tool business in an industry dominated by brick-and-mortar stores is no mean feat. Despite this, Discount Trader's remarkable success proves that the online space is not only a viable channel, but a thriving marketplace for DIY enthusiasts, tradespeople, and homeowners seeking convenient access to quality tools and equipment. In 2008, Gary established Discount Trader as an online store, launched from his small apartment in Melbourne. Leveraging his background in electrical engineering and experience as an electrician, Gary identified a growing need for hand and power tools within the expanding online marketplace. Initially, Discount Trader served mostly contractors, but as the business expanded its customer base diversified to include a wide range of clients such as businesses, families, recruitment agencies, homeowners, and consumers from across Australia and New Zealand. “We serve many trade customers, especially given the automotive industry's reliance on skilled tradespeople who regularly utilise our business. In addition to this, we have a large customer base of DIY enthusiasts. Basic tools like spanners and hammers are essential for household projects and is also why our products appeal to a wide range of individuals across various demographics,” Gary explained. Discount Trader thrives online The business has experienced remarkable growth since its humble beginnings when it initially offered only a limited selection of product lines.

Gary attributes his success to building strong relationships with suppliers and expanding his variety of products to effectively address customer needs and preferences. “I consistently expanded our inventory to diversify and broaden our product range. My primary goal was to increase the variety of product lines and explore new areas of business. It was crucial to take on board more suppliers and evolve our operations to meet customer demand and industry trends.” “In the beginning, I initially focused on selling cordless power tools but this basic range quickly expanded into the mechanical and automotive industries. From there, we diversified further into outdoor gardening, home and garden, and indoor cleaning products,” Gary said. Humble beginnings Although Discount Trader originated from Gary’s small apartment, it was not long before he relocated his operations to a garage nearby before quickly expanding into multiple warehouses. The impressive growth emphasised just how rapid Discount Trader's expansion was as well as its success in meeting consumer demand for tools and equipment. “In 2009, I rented our first warehouse after the capacity of the garage was quickly surpassed. After moving into the garage, it was then that our most significant growth occurred when our major supplier introduced Discount Trader to the HBT group.” Gary said becoming a member of the HBT group was crucial because membership granted him access to a vast network of suppliers, transforming his business significantly and fuelling its growth path. The same year, Discount Trader secured a 250-square-metre warehouse which also included over-thecounter customer sales and pickups. “When the pandemic struck, our online sales skyrocketed. Fortunately, we had established a robust online presence fourteen years prior to the pandemic which positioned us well during these challenging times,” he said. Discount Trader has since broadened its product offering by implementing a new storefront in its latest 1350-square-metre warehouse in Notting Hill, Melbourne. The warehouse itself features a ninemetre-high roof which allows for substantially increased storage. Gary says that this strategic expansion improves customer access to a greater variety of products while effectively handling larger stock volumes. Gary said the new location not only allows for a fourfold increase in storage capacity, but also enables him to Free shipping over !100* ! Customer Service (03) 8555 0... Click and Collect Contact Us Wishlist Register Login When you need quality tools at discounted prices – the answer is always Discount Trader. As Australia’s leading online discount tools supplier of brand new and genuine parts and products, we provide choices from the best names in both power and hand tools and much more. So you can always expect to quickly find exactly what you need to complete work tasks or home projects, indoors or outside. We source thousands of proven quality yet cheap discount priced power and other tools from more than 100 of the world’s leading manufacturers and ship your purchase fast and anywhere right across Australia Read more… SEE MORE PRODUCTS BIG BRANDS LOW PRICES FIND US Open Hours: 9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri Address: 14-16 Redwood Drive Notting Hill Vic 3168 Phone: (03) 8555 0035 Fax: (03) 8080 3238 Email: sales@discounttrader.com.au QUICK LINKS Shipping Information Guarantee Return Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions About Us Sitemap SOCIAL MEDIA ! 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purchase in bulk and provide customers with better deals. “Furthermore, we have partnered with leading power tool and hand tool companies to create dedicated showroom spaces that has significantly contributed to our business expansion,” he said. Diversification and expansion When growing an online business, Gary said that aligning product selection with market trends is crucial for business success. He says that while the effort required to manage inventory effectively is significant, a steady approach ensures product relevance and customer satisfaction, which are key factors in Discount Trader's strategy for sustained growth and competitiveness. “It often takes several hours over the weekend to keep our listings updated. Investing extra time and effort into the business always leads to positive results,” he said. Today Discount Trader is staffed by six full-time employees, including family members, supplemented by contractors who oversee website updates and ensure operational efficiency. The online shop continues to thrive due to positive word-of-mouth referrals from long-term customers. “We use Google AdWords and email campaigns to encourage customer sign-ups. We also maintain regular communications with our customers via email to inform them about our promotions, new offers and exclusive Discount Trader deals,” he says. Despite facing strong competition online, Discount Trader also caters to local customers who prefer the convenience of shopping in-store. “We differentiate ourselves by offering a broader product range. While most brick-and-mortar stores have limitations on their SKU selections, we can stock significantly more product lines. Our extensive inventory and high stock availability set us apart and attract customers. Maintaining adequate stock levels is crucial for competitiveness, and we strive to have 90 per cent of our items in stock to facilitate direct orders,” he said. Gary acknowledges the competitiveness of the online space, driven by the RETAIL FOCUS Discount Trader stands out from competitors by offering extensive inventory and high stock availability. 8 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | APRIL '24

To see the full publication simply click the link or use the QR Code below to subscribe SUBSCRIBE Please include your business name or store name (and account number if available for renewal) in the 'Add a note for the seller' section. You can use your account number to access the digital magazine. https://square.link/u/YNfpLjMY

growing number of businesses transitioning online in recent years. “I understand the shift towards online retail as a survival strategy, especially during economic downturns. Retailers are exploring new channels to reach customers amidst challenging market conditions. It is crucial to adapt and innovate to stay competitive in today's evolving marketplace,” he said. Broadening horizons Despite the recent economic slowdown, Gary believes that adapting the business to consistently meet customer needs and building strong supplier relationships to secure better deals is crucial. This proactive approach ensures Discount Trader remains resilient amidst market fluctuations, he says. “It is for this reason that we are expanding our product range to include camping goods, 4WD products, and cleaning items. Additionally, I also aim to broaden our customer base to encompass every suburb across Australia. Our longstanding presence over the past 16 years has earned trust and recommendations from countless satisfied customers, fuelling our growth.” In the future, Gary aims to expand warehouse storage capacity and enhance both in-store and online sales to meet growing demand and reach a broader customer base. While he acknowledges that the business does have a solid reputation with 90 per cent of products delivered accurately and on time, Gary says there is always room for improvement. “The website represents the main revenue stream for the business and any disruptions to its operation can have significant financial implications. Downtimes or technical issues not only lead to lost sales opportunities but also have an impact on customer satisfaction. Ensuring the website's reliability is crucial to maintaining a steady income and providing a seamless shopping experience for customers. This is also why regular monitoring and maintenance are essential to minimise disruptions and maximise online sales performance,” he said. The increasing shift towards online shopping also means that robust online security measures become paramount to protect customer information and transactions. As more customers embrace online purchasing, Gary says that the need to safeguard their personal data and guarantee secure transactions is critical in maintaining trust and confidence in the online shopping experience. “We continuously monitor website performance by analysing traffic patterns and customer behaviours. Speed is critical for increasing conversions because a quick and stable website drives more sales. By prioritising these aspects, we aim to optimise the online shopping experience and maximise customer satisfaction.” Gary also acknowledges ongoing challenges in negotiating freight costs but remains committed to securing competitive deals with courier companies. Despite the surcharges for residential deliveries, he works with multiple carriers to minimise costs and ensure efficient shipping for customers across different regions. “Some carriers charge exorbitant fees, especially for residential deliveries. To mitigate costs, we collaborate with six carriers to identify the most competitive options. By leveraging multiple carriers, we ensure efficient and cost-effective shipping solutions for our customers.” Gary emphasises how buying patterns correlate with population distribution across New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. This understanding guides Discount Trader's strategy to meet diverse customer needs effectively in different regions. “In the end, we are in an industry that feeds into housing and we are an essential service, so despite the slowing in the online and in-store space, this sector should grow across the country soon,” Gary concluded. Discount Trader’s new premises include a 1350 square metre warehouse with nine metre high shelves for extra storage. 10 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | APRIL '24

To prepare for the 2024 award season, we sat down with NTHA 2023 award winners, Acheson’s Mitre 10 winner of Best Hardware Garden Department, and Pink’s Mitre 10 winner of Best Hardware Retail Store Under 2,500 square metres to understand their insights and motivators for success. In an ever-evolving industry, family-run businesses have emerged as prominent players, showcasing resilience, innovation, and a commitment to community. This dominance was unmistakably evident during the National Timber and Hardware Association’s (NTHA) 2023 award season, where businesses like Acheson’s and Pink’s Mitre 10 stood out as exemplary representatives of the industry. Delving into their insights provides a helpful look into their strategic approaches, values and unique perspectives driving their business success. Industry trends and adaptation Industry trends are always changing and adapting, influenced by factors such as consumer preferences and design influences – especially in a digitally-dominated world. Jacinda Acheson from Acheson’s Mitre 10 in Forbes, New South Wales has noted a shift towards streamlined styles of plants, highlighting the role landscapers and architects are playing in shaping garden design trends. Additionally, Melanie Pink from Pink’s Mitre 10 in Clare, South Australia is seeing growth in the industry fuelled by a trend towards supporting smaller, family-owned, and operated businesses. This, combined with the huge expansion of product offerings beyond traditional hardware tools has set family-owned businesses in good stead to maintain growth. Talent acquisition and development The development of staff is critical, particularly for family-run businesses. Onboarding, training, and upskilling are important, as well as focusing on customer service training, and fostering a culture of learning and teamwork. Pink’s Mitre 10 shared their work to recruit young talent; they offer opportunities for growth through apprenticeships and identifying employees’ strengths for role transitions – i.e. moving from casual to permanent, and cross-department. Pink’s top tips to ensure an efficient onboarding process include: 1. Prioritise customer service training with new team members – service is what keeps customers coming back, so knowing how to manage customers is key. BEHIND THE COUNTER Family-run businesses set to dominate in NTHA’s 2024 award season As award season rears its head, many businesses are again recognising their strengths, milestones and achievements by celebrating their stores and team members. In this edition of Behind the Counter, the National Timber & Hardware Association (NTHA) looks back on the success of their Mitre 10 stores and how they continue to excel. Three generations of Pinks – Pink's Mitre 10 in Clare, South Australia.

2. Product knowledge is critical – provide ample information on the products you sell and what they can do for customers. 3. Treat new products as a group learning exercise – involving your experienced team and new members is great for building understanding and enhancing morale. 4.e Learning is great – NTHA Training is the Registered Training Organisation (RTO #5343) of NTHA, providing learners valuable insights to sharpen their abilities and stay ahead in their field. NTHA’s virtual short courses cover a variety of topics, each providing interactive sessions, expert guidance, and practical exercises to meet your team's needs. Learn more at NTHA.com.au. Employee retention and loyalty Both Acheson’s and Pink’s Mitre 10 exemplify a commitment to employee retention and loyalty, viewing their teams not just as staff but as integral members of their business. Acheson’s Mitre 10 emphasises a culture of recognition, celebrating team milestones with gestures like team dinners and birthday cakes. By prioritising above-average compensation and fostering open communication, they cultivate an environment where employees feel valued and are invested in the company's success. Similarly, Pink’s Mitre 10 underscores the importance of building personal connections and involving employees in daily activities, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Both businesses recognise the challenges of turnover and embrace it as an opportunity for growth, maintaining an open-door policy and demonstrating a genuine commitment to nurturing lasting relationships with their team members. Recognition and industry leadership Acheson’s and Pink’s Mitre 10 not only excel in employee retention but also in earning true industry recognition and leadership. Their prestigious NTHA Award wins serve as a testament to their dedication and innovation. “Proud was an understatement. We came home and our local newspaper put us on the front page. Our Facebook post was shared over 1,000 times which is amazing because even if they are not reading about us, we are building critical brand awareness,” Jacinda Acheson said. These awards not only validate their hard work but amplify their brand visibility, fostering trust and respect within the industry and their communities. For Acheson’s Mitre 10, the local media coverage and social media engagement following their award win underscored the significance of industry recognition in building critical brand awareness. Similarly, Pink’s Mitre 10 values the acknowledgment received from suppliers and fellow store owners, demonstrating the importance of respect earned through an achievement of this kind. As the industry continues to evolve, NTHA remains committed to celebrating excellence and innovation. Looking ahead, NTHA’s 2024 Award season is approaching, and nominations are now open across all states and territories. Businesses are invited to showcase their achievements in a range of categories. The 2024 State Timber & Hardware Industry Awards provide a platform to acknowledge outstanding contributions and inspire industry-wide excellence. Businesses are encouraged to seize this opportunity to shine a spotlight on their achievements, elevate their brand, and contribute to the collective advancement of the timber and hardware industry. Together, let us celebrate the visionaries, trailblazers, and leaders shaping the future of our industry. Businesses can find more information and nominate for the 2024 State Timber and Hardware Industry awards at www.ntha.com.au/events/2024-state-awards/ The Acheson's Mitre 10 team – Forbes, New South Wales. NOMINATE NOW APRIL '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 13

Women around the United States celebrated ‘Women in Construction Week’ last month – and with significant growth in the industry, there is a lot to praise. According to a new survey by Yelp, women are diving into traditionally male-dominated spaces, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and skilled trades professions. Female-backed home service listings also jumped by 38 per cent between 2022 and 2023. The timing could not be better for women to get into the trades, and helping them take those first steps into skilled trades is part of the Lowe's Foundation's mission. On top of a commitment over five years of $50 million to help invest in programs that are recruiting, training, and preparing individuals for careers in the skilled trades, the foundation is committed to being hands-on as well. A Lowe's force supported one of its newest Gable Grants recipients, ‘She Built This City’, at its community build day, lending a hand to assemble picnic tables and benches to be placed around Charlotte. Director of Lowe's Foundation, Betsy Conway, believes women are a major untapped resource in the trades and getting them involved is crucial to bridging the gap of skilled trade workers in the US. “It is an exciting time to be a woman in construction. There is so much opportunity, with over half a million additional tradespeople needed this year alone. To address this crisis, we are looking for innovative, inclusive, and scalable programs that attract new individuals into this field,” Ms Conway said. Innovative programs like ‘She Built This City’, ‘Chicago Women in Trades’, and ‘West Virginia Women Work’ were recently announced as Lowe's Foundation Gable Grant recipients. Each of these programs focuses its attention and resources on getting women into the trades and making it a better space for women to work in. Lowe’s Foundation Gable Grants recipients are facilitating life-changing experiences for women. For example, ‘West Virginia Women Work’ empowers women to explore and secure employment in construction and manufacturing across the state. The nonprofit is using its Gable Grant to implement a Step Up for Women program to offer a multifaceted approach to career placement. “It is not just about numbers. Bringing women into the trades enriches the whole industry with different viewpoints and innovative approaches, leading to better work practices, safety measures, and problem-solving strategies. Through our ‘Step Up for Women’ pre-apprenticeship programs, we are not only equipping women with the skills they need for these careers but also working to change how society views the trades – as a fulfilling and accessible career path for everyone,” Heather Shockney, Chief Operations Officer at West Virginia Women Work said. Together with Lowe’s championing programs that uplift underrepresented communities to skilled trades, women are also helping to patch up the skilled trades crisis. US NEWS Lowe’s uplifts women into skilled trades The Home Depot expands pro offerings with new distribution centers The Home Depot has announced the opening of four new distribution centers that aim to expand its pro ecosystem to Detroit, southern Los Angeles, San Antonio and Toronto in 2024. The new facilities are a crucial part of The Home Depot’s plan to enhance its services for professional customers, including those the company has typically served through its physical stores, as well as those working on bigger and more intricate projects. The new distribution centers will stock large, bulky merchandise like lumber, insulation, roofing shingles and more. Pros can now conveniently order job-lot quantities of products needed for their entire project and have them delivered to their job sites from The Home Depot’s network of distribution centers that hold a range of various product types. The new distribution centers are expected to open in the first half of the year. The Home Depot, in partnership with its suppliers, is striving to enhance the in-store inventory in its top professional markets by offering larger job-lot The Lowe's Foundation's mission is to help women enter the skilled trade industry.

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PlaceMakers has continued its mission to be more sustainable with a trial to reduce the amount of plastic wrap it uses as part of a broader waste reduction initiative. Starting with its stores in Auckland, PlaceMakers will only wrap orders if requested by customers or if the product is in storage or rain is forecasted. If wrapping is requested, PlaceMakers will charge a nominal fee of $5 plus GST, which will be donated to Forest and Bird – New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation. Ensuring products arrive on site in top condition remains a priority for PlaceMakers and the reduction in wrapping will not change that, says Nick Scott, PlaceMakers' Head of Sustainability. “PlaceMakers staff are regularly checking forecasts to make sure that product always arrives in good condition, with weather updates sent out to our trial store locations. When it is forecast for rain, our staff will be primed to start wrapping.” Thus far, reports indicate that builders have accepted the move – in part because staff take great pride in ensuring all products reach the site in great condition. “The change has been fairly seamless and we have received no negative feedback,” Mr Scott said. “We estimate we have already reduced our plastic use by 60 per cent in our Auckland stores; however, we expect this figure to improve over time. Our target is to eliminate 37 rolls of plastic from entering our environment – but that may increase if the trial is extended to more stores.” The new initiative is focused on improving the environmental sustainability of PlaceMakers' business, but a large part of the sustainability remit is also to assist customers with their own efforts. “We are looking to collaborate with key customers to see if we can assist with their sustainability initiatives, to help them meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) demands. That includes recycling as well as reduction,” Mr Scott said. Currently, construction and demolition waste make up around half of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill. Part of PlaceMakers ESG goal is to help bring that number down over the next few years by working closely with the construction industry. “We want to be a proactive organisation that works to reduce the amount of construction waste, rather than let stats like that remain the status quo,” Mr Scott said. “Plastic wrap is a good place to start given that the amount used to wrap one pallet is equal to hundreds of plastic bags. It is an easy win for us to start there. If we change the way we operate, we can potentially save over 15 tonnes of plastic from making its way into landfill every year.” To save more waste from damaging New Zealand’s environment, PlaceMakers is also partnering with Zero Plastic Oceans to trial the use of recycled Ocean Bound Plastic (OBP) as an alternative source of wrapping. OBP is plastic waste at risk of ending up in the ocean and is estimated to generate 80 per cent of marine litter. During the trial period, OBP will be recycled into wrapping and used when required at PlaceMakers stores. The scheme is part of a wider waste reduction initiative, which is also looking into further opportunities, such as a trial to use paper-based strapping that can be easily recycled, which could be coupled with a strapping chipper that would chip strapping and recycle it. NZ NEWS PlaceMakers reduces plastic wrapping PlaceMakers estimates they have already reduced plastic use by 60 per cent in its Auckland stores.

A call for more Pasifika tradies Residential construction set to return to sustainable levels The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) is calling for more Pasifika learners to start their apprenticeships. Despite reasonably high numbers of Pasifika labourers in the industry, Pasifika people are underrepresented when it comes to qualifications. BCITO said that recent research from the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission that looked at the broader infrastructure sector, including the building and construction industry, shows there is a need for more training. Pacific people make up seven per cent of the infrastructure workforce but are not moving up the ladder once they enter the sector. “Research shows that Pacific workers were more likely to have no qualification, which is why we are seeing higher rates of Pasifika people in labourer roles. With demand in the sector rising, now is the time to encourage and support our Pasifika trainees and encourage those who are labouring to consider formal training,” said Greg Durkin, Director of BCITO. In recent years, BCITO has identified the pressing need for greater representation of Pasifika people within the construction workforce, which has resulted in the introduction of the ‘Building Pasifika’ campaign. This campaign is designed to support Pasifika learners, both current and future learners. “Only about 10 per cent of our active BCITO apprentices are Pasifika,” said Mr Durkin. “This figure and the high rate of untrained Pasifika labourers underscores the importance of our new Pasifika campaign and the need to provide meaningful opportunities for Pasifika people.” “BCITO has intensified its efforts to understand and support our Pasifika workforce. This has included the appointment of a dedicated Principal Advisor for Pasifika People, Solomon Daniel, who is tasked with fostering cultural capabilities within BCITO and building meaningful connections within the Pasifika community,” Mr Durkin said. A key focus of the campaign is cultivating Pasifika capability in alignment with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) Takiala Pasifika Framework. Central to this endeavour is also the empowerment of current Pasifika learners, ensuring they feel supported and equipped to navigate their apprenticeship journey. “Our aim is twofold: to attract prospective Pasifika apprentices and to provide unwavering support to those already on their journey.” “Through targeted outreach and resources, we want to convey the message that no Pasifika learner walks alone and that their aspirations are supported by BCITO every step of the way,” Mr Durkin concluded. A new report has predicted a slowdown from the post-COVID-19 peak in residential building work to December 2028 as supply and demand evens out. The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) National Construction Pipeline Report 2023 reported that building demand has cooled since record building consents were issued in 2022, and therefore anticipates a more sustainable level of work for residential builders across New Zealand. “The overall activity forecast is positive, short-term reductions across various measures in the report suggest activity fluctuations in the sector are being less affected by COVID-19 and returning to a more usual pattern,” said Micheal Warren, Manager of System Strategy and Performance at the MBIE. “Residential building activity is forecast to return to levels that align with the sector’s capacity to deliver buildings ready for occupation, settling the sector into a more sustainable level where supply and demand is much closer than it has been in recent years.” The report is designed to provide a forward look at building and construction activity over six years and is based on forecasting by BRANZ and data from Pacifecon (NZ) Ltd, a building economics consultancy, as well as to help the industry plan for its future, Mr Warren said. “The report aims to provide awareness of the expected pipeline of work to support the sector’s strategic planning, investment in skills and equipment and coordination of construction procurement to meet the sector’s future needs. Having foresight into these areas could help mitigate uncertainty and allow for better preparedness across the sector,” Mr Warren concluded. Pacific people make up seven per cent of the infrastructure workforce but are not moving up the ladder. APRIL '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 17

TIMBER UPDATE Celebrating AKD’s Caboolture Sawmill Expansion Project AFWI and Albanese Government launch $100 million project The Associated Kiln Driers (AKD) recently announced the completion of the Caboolture Sawmill Expansion Project, marking a significant milestone. The official opening was held on March 6 and included AKD Caboolture employees and local ministers, Honourable Catherine King MP, Senator the Honourable Anthony Chisholm and Terry Young MP, to celebrate. Completed in January 2024, the project has effectively doubled the production capacity of the Caboolture site. Currently the site is processing 370,000 metres cubed of locally grown sawlog. These upgrades have also enabled AKD to install the latest technology for improving the recovery of structural timber from the sawlog resource – enabling more houses in Queensland to be built with Queensland-grown timber. This initiative not only supports local jobs within the building supply chain but also aligns with a combined effort to reduce Queensland’s importing of timber and exporting of logs. The future of sustainable forestry recently received a significant boost with the official launch of the Albanese Government’s $100 million Australian Forest and Wood Innovations (AFWI) program. AFWI is a collaboration between the Albanese Government and the University of Tasmania, committed to advancing research and innovation in Australian forest and wood products. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, said the University of Tasmania AFWI Headquarters in Launceston would support a local AFWI research centre, with further centres planned for the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Melbourne. “Establishing AFWI was an election commitment which we are proud to deliver and forms part of our record $300 million investment in the Australian forestry and forest product sector,” Minister Watt said. “This program will support sustainable forestry, while also helping to deliver a future made in Australia. It is an exciting time for forestry research as we work towards unlocking the full potential of wood as the ultimate renewable material and growing our forests and forestry industry.” Minister Watt said the three centres will conduct research to enhance production forests and the wood products sourced from them – managing and sustainably expanding Australian forestry resources, transforming wood residues into renewable products and energy solutions – all while helping to address the threat of climate change. “AFWI will draw on the best researchers and facilities across the nation to ensure Australia’s forest and wood products industries remain on the front foot, supporting applied research, development, and innovation,” Minister Watt said. “We saw demand for forest products significantly increase during the pandemic – increasing production in our sustainably managed plantation estate and product recovery from our sawmills and wood and fibre processing plants will see us better positioned to meet demand into the future.” The AFWI Board is chaired by Mr Bob Gordon and includes nine other members from the Commonwealth with industry and forestry research experience, an understanding of workers’ needs, as well as First Nations perspectives. The University of Tasmania’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black, said the university was excited to bring world-leading research to answer questions that will help accelerate the role of forestry and wood products in meeting the challenge of climate change and building a circular economy. “AFWI will provide the skills and knowledge to support sustainable production of wood products, protect biodiversity and multiple forest values, and ensure the national sector is at the forefront of innovation and climate action.” “We are the number one university in the world for climate action, according to the Times Higher Education impact rankings, and we are committing to supporting the transition to a low-emissions global economy we need to make – wood must play a big part in that future,” Professor Black said. For more information visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ agriculture-land/forestry/national/ australian-forest-and-wood-innovations

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TIMBER UPDATE Parliament puts a stop to illegal logging The recently introduced amendments in Parliament have been established to strengthen laws that stop illegally logged timber from entering the Australian market. Greater investment in timber testing technology, increased enforcement, expanded monitoring and investigation powers, as well as naming and shaming those who break the rules are all measures included in the new Bill. It is estimated that up to 10 per cent of Australia’s annual timber and woodbased imports may be illegally logged and the trade in illegal imports reduces the price of legal timber globally by seven to 16 per cent. The Bill aims to update and strengthen the Act to safeguard the Australian market from illegally harvested timber and timber products, while also promoting sustainable and legal timber trade. In combination, these amendments to the laws will help make Australia an even less attractive destination for illegally sourced timber and further protect Australia’s reputation in international markets as a supplier of sustainable and legally sourced timber products. This Bill will both uphold Australia’s reputation as a global leader through adopting further best-practice regulatory approaches, and help address the environmental, social, and economic harms of illegal logging and associated trade. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment (Strengthening Measures to Prevent Illegal Timber Trade) Bill 2023 would modernise and strengthen current laws if successfully passed through Parliament. “Australia’s illegal logging laws support a sustainable forestry industry and reduce the risk of it being undercut by illegal products,” Minister Watt said. “Australia was among the first countries in the world to introduce laws targeting illegal timber and trade in 2012. Our laws restrict the import and sale of illegally logged timber and timber products, and processing of domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally harvested.” “Reforms will enable the use of new innovations, including cutting-edge timber identification technologies, to strengthen our ability to identify and act against those who jeopardise Australia’s legal and sustainable timber trade,” Minister Watt said. “We know that Australian timber producers and environmental groups alike want to see these tools and techniques used effectively in Australia.” Minister Watt says illegal logging is a complex global problem, with significant impacts on Australia’s forest industries. “Illegal logging has devastating impacts on climate, nature, and people, and costs developing countries billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Australia is not immune, with trade in low-priced illegally sourced timber undermining supply chains, business decisions, industry profitability, investment, and jobs in the Australian economy,” he said. Minister Watt says that modernising Australia’s laws will help make Australia an even less attractive destination for illegally sourced timber and further protect the country’s international reputation as a supplier of sustainable and legally sourced timber. “The Bill will allow us to continue to lead global efforts to combat illegal logging now and into the future,” he concluded. The new Bill proposes reforms to ensure laws remain fit for purpose as global efforts to combat illegal logging evolve. It will implement improvements identified through both the Statutory Review of the Illegal Logging Act and the Sunsetting Review of the Illegal Logging Regulation. Details on the review and consultation process for the proposed reforms can be found on the department's website: https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov. au/illegal-logging-sunsetting-review

Serving both the independent and big box markets, A Team Merchandising is excited for the year ahead as it continues to grow and evolve to meet local market demands. A Team evolves through changing market SALES & MERCHANDISING In A Team’s early years, clients were strongly focused on both the independents as well as the big box. Although this focus was followed by an almost single-minded attention on Bunnings, the pendulum is now swinging back again. “The meteoric growth of Bunnings once saw our clients strongly focused on meeting their needs. This included the extra resources that were required to support new store rollouts. However, as the Bunnings geographic footprint reaches maturity, we once again see our clients starting to ask for support with independents and we are responding to the call,” A Team General Manager Matt Wild recently told AHJ. Co-serving both Bunnings and independents has its benefits because when A Team needs to deal with the same client across both retail sectors, its staff have the benefit of building and sharing their product knowledge from the industry as a whole. A Team’s Samantha Crowe assists the merchandiser in co-serving both the independent and big box markets. APRIL '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 21

“We can also deliver logistical efficiencies by mapping our calls to cover geographic territories concurrently,” Mr Wild said. When reflecting on the past 12 months, A Team sees Bunnings as now transitioning to a more mature business model. Mr Wild says that even though historically Bunnings has focused on putting up new stores and filling them to the brim, this focus has now shifted to a more sophisticated approach of fine-tuning profits from existing stores. “This is evident when you see the improved inventory management systems within Bunnings that aim to have the most suitable stock levels to meet sales without overstocking. We play a part in this process by monitoring our clients' stock levels to identify anomalies between physical stock on hand and stock levels shown in the system,” Mr Wild said. When looking at the performance of the hardware industry as whole, although A Team believes the hardware industry is down from the heights of recent years, the feedback from clients is that they have been somewhat immune from this downturn to date. “We believe this is because the majority of our clients play in the DIY/general hardware space rather than construction-specific categories,” he said. When it comes to seeking new clients, A Team believes client decision-making is very much driven by the corporate structure of a business. “Some larger organisations, particularly those on a global scale, have a policy of reviewing service providers based on an arbitrary schedule. Other organisations work on an ‘if it ain't broke don’t fix it’ approach. We respect both philosophies and work with our clients and prospective clients to best meet their needs.” “This is why we are open to clients conducting trials because we understand it is a big step to make the switch. One method is to appoint us as a service provider in one state where our performance can be monitored. However, we tend to find once a client decides they want to make a change they go for a clean break and make the switch nationally. We also have simple yet comprehensive onboarding processes that ensure a seamless transition for our clients,” Mr Wild said. As a true national service provider, A Team believes there are no stand-out states to date and says its service levels simply reflect the proportional distribution of stores across the country. “Looking to the New Zealand market, A Team has an affiliate company in New Zealand that enables us to provide reciprocal services for clients across the Tasman as well,” he said. While it seems that experience and working on a national scale do have its benefits, merchandising does not come without its issues. Mr Wild pointed out that working as a third-party provider always has the potential for disconnection, “between our client (the supplier) and their customer (the retailer) in terms of the flow of information and executing tasks.” “Often when we speak with prospective clients they say, ‘we do not know whether our provider is doing a good job or not, we never really hear from them’. We work very hard to continually liaise with our clients to clearly define tasks. We then thoroughly document the tasks and load them into our ‘A Team Live’ app.” “All of our team then log into the app and follow the instructions in the task. The app requires our team to document the completion or non-completion of tasks which are then available as reports to our clients,” Mr Wild said. It is advanced tools such as these that allow A Team to remain well-positioned in keeping its clients in the loop. These tools also ensure that the management team is always available to discuss issues and resolve them early to ensure a successful year ahead. SALES & MERCHANDISING A Team’s John Hughes believes it is important to continually liaise with clients so all tasks are clearly defined. 22 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | APRIL '24

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