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DEPARTMENTS Newsmakers Features 5 Viewpoint 6 Retail Focus 10 Behind the Counter 12 US News 14 NZ News 16 Timber Update 29 News 31 Product Focus 32 What’s New 20 I ndustry Insights In this year's Industry Insight feature, hardware industry leaders reveal the strategies they used to not only survive, but thrive in the ever-changing hardware industry. Industry leaders featured in this edition include Hardware and Building Traders (HBT) Chief Executive Officer Greg Benstead, Independent Hardware Group (IHG) Chief Executive Officer Annette Welsh, Bunnings Managing Director Michael Schneider and National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA) Chief Executive Officer, David Little. 12 A ce Hardware store is the latest victim of cyberattacks 14 M ill workers face job loss due to Te Tairãwhiti closure 29 B unnings to stop selling engineered stone linked to incurable silicosis About the Cover You asked, we delivered – the new Yale Assure Lever Smart Lock with integrated touchscreen keypad and key override elevates home security and delivers unparalleled convenience. It is engineered to become an integral part of the smart home ecosystem, being directly compatible with Apple HomeKit and controlled effortlessly through the Yale Home APP. Stylish, Smartand Secure Yale Assure® Lever Vol.138 No.12 Dec 2023 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886 31 6 18 29 4 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | DECEMBER '23

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: Journalists: E mily Morrison John Power Online Communications & Production: Justin Carroll Email: ADVERTISING Alastair Bryers Email: Phone: (03) 9544 2233 Mobile: 0498 555 085 ACCOUNTS Melissa Graydon Email: SUBSCRIPTIONS Melissa Graydon $93.00 – 12 issues ART AND PRODUCTION Justin Carroll PRINTING Southern Impact Pty Ltd 181 Forster Rd, Mount Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: (03) 8796 7000 2023 was by far one of the most interesting, challenging, and diverse years that the hardware industry has experienced so far. It seems that one sector of the industry that has continued to grow in popularity this year is Australian Made products with local businesses licensed with the Australian Made campaign growing from 2800 in 2020 to 4500 licenses at the beginning of this year. 2023 also kicked off with the Independent Hardware Group (IHG) Expo in February. This event was hugely popular, being the first face-to-face Expo after three years of delays, and featured a ‘Consumer first’ theme that focused on putting the needs of the consumer front and centre. Just a few weeks on, Bunnings implemented the extensive expansion of its pet products range, from 100 to 1000 SKUs, as a response to a substantial increase in pet ownership throughout COVID. April saw Safe Work Australia asked to consider what a future ban on engineered stone would look like by workplace health and safety ministers in a concerted effort to reduce the incidents of silicosis. Since this announcement, IHG has banned the sale of engineered stone with the hope that other hardware retailers will follow suit. Heading into May, the Federal Government went on to expand the prospective eligibility of its Home Guarantee Scheme (HGS) to tackle the growing house crisis and boost new home-build applications. Later that month, Tool Kit Depot (TKD) expanded into Victoria in the south-eastern suburb of Mentone after four sites were already established in South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland. Heading into June, mid-year results showed that despite the rising cost of living, retail spending remained steady. CITI Bank reports indicated that retail trading would remain moderate rather than collapse in 2023. Several national conferences were also held in August with the National Paint Place Conference taking place on the Gold Coast, as well as the Hardware and Building Traders (HBT) National Conference held in Cairns. Over 900 attended HBT’s annual conference which was based around improving member's businesses. As spring approached, predictions of a dry and hot summer ahead saw a surge in the commencement of outdoor projects, particularly after three years of substantially wet springs. With the threat of fires also on the rise, generator and pump sales are also expected to surge, with stores in bushfire-prone areas urged to stock up. October saw staffing issues continue as retailers headed into the busy Christmas season with unemployment sitting at just 3.7 per cent. Conference season kicked off again in October as Natbuild, Construction Supply Specialists (CSS) and Australian Industrial Supplies (AIS) all held their national conferences. While CSS celebrated 21 years in the business, AIS re-charged at its ‘Reset ‘23’ trade conference held in Perth. Natbuild also revealed positive trading results and remains optimistic despite the slowing market. 2024 AHJ’s January edition will kick off the New Year with its ever-popular Australian Made feature showcasing all of the latest locally made products within the hardware industry, as well as all of the latest news from the Australian Made Campaign. Congratulations to all of our readers on your unwavering resilience this year along with an incredible work ethic, and most of all, continuing to build and maintain important relationships with one another. It is these unwavering relationships that make independents stand out from their competitors and continue to prosper in an uncertain economic environment. From the team at AHJ, we wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous Christmas and New Year. Christine Bannister - Editor

Thrifty-Link Rainbow celebrates 100 years in business When Rainbow Thrifty-Link store owner Ron Ismay began working at the store aged just 16, he never would have believed he would still be running the store at the age of 70. After decades of hard work, today Ron has much to celebrate with the store celebrating 100 years of business success this year. Business: T Ismay and Co. Thrifty-Link Owners: Ron Ismay Location: Rainbow, Victoria Buying Group: Independent Hardware Group (IHG) As a teenager, Ron had big dreams of becoming a builder when he left school. But when the 1967 drought hit Victoria’s rural properties and farms, the building industry struggled and Ron decided to help his grandfather, Tom, operate the hardware store instead. “My grandfather and his father were both builders when they came to Australia at the turn of the century. My grandfather went on to serve in World War I but when he came home, he established the store in 1923. He employed up to 15 men before the drought.” “My grandmother Vera also worked very hard in the business while looking after the family and myself after my mother passed away in the 1970s. My dad, Dudley, did not really enter the business as a partner, until later in life. When my grandmother decided to retire, and Dad also stepped aside, I bought them both out and took over the business,” Ron said. The store was originally established by Ron’s grandfather in a much smaller building in Railway Street, Rainbow, with the town located about 400 kilometres northwest of Melbourne. Ron then relocated the business to a much larger site and store of around 500 square metres in 1985. The new site features a substantial shed at the rear of the store measuring 45 Third-generation owner, Ron Ismay has spent years renovating the store.

Formerly TABMA and Hardware Australia 1800 822 621 ALL UNDER ONE ROOF Government Advocacy IR Advice WH&S Services HR Resources National Conference & Awards Emerging Leader Program Insights & Stats Trade Credit Insurance Program Building Trade Credit Australia Cost Saving Benefits Industry Training (RTO) #5343 Trainees & Apprentices (GTO) metres long and 30 metres wide, which was also originally used to store over 4000 tonnes of grain. “We used the shed to store grain for some time, but it has since been transformed into an area we now use for engineering and spray painting. These are two side businesses I have developed over the years in addition to the hardware business. The sandblasting service first started out as a hobby of mine in 1978 but has since grown into a healthy side business. I have also installed a large paint booth in the shed, so I am well set up to paint semi-trailers, tippers and farming machinery,” he said. An extensive engineering facility has also been implemented at the rear shed which includes a sheet metal guillotine and folder, punching shears and bandsaw, and a variety of engineering equipment. Ron used much of the equipment to make one-tonne ute trays for a car dealer in Horsham. Above the store, Ron also operates a wide format sign business where he develops a lot of signage for surrounding businesses. “Rainbow only has a population of 600 people, so it is difficult to run a successful hardware store selling just hardware. I have diversified a lot from the original hardware store to survive but I have enjoyed doing it as well. I always wanted to be a builder and I guess I have done this in a lot of other ways through the sandblasting and engineering business. The work is spasmodic so it is hard to find staff that could take over this sort of work for me, but I love doing it,” he said. Store developments When Ron first bought the larger store in 1985, the building was over 80 years old and was in disarray structurally due to a severe white ant infestation that had destroyed much of the building. “The entire floor needed to be replaced as well as two walls which I have rebuilt over time. I have nearly rebuilt the whole shop and I have recently RETAIL FOCUS Ron Ismay's grandfather Tom established T. Ismay and Co. in 1923. DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 7

revamped the store again with new floor coverings and new shop fittings. The place is looking brand new.” Today the store caters to 80 per cent DIY and 20 per cent trade customers, with local builders primarily undertaking renovation work rather than building new homes in the local area. The majority of the store’s customers are farmers and locals completing their own DIY projects. “I am well supported by the local farming community within a radius of about 30 kilometres. Rainbow is a dryland, or no irrigation, farming area. Harvests have been above average in the past few years and the local economy is doing well. The town of Rainbow is flourishing, with more people moving into the area in recent years, and house values have risen as a result.” “Ten years ago, I would not have considered renovating the store because the town was not going anywhere. Now all the house prices are going up and people are moving into the town. And a lot of these people use the store to conduct renovations and the business is viable again,” Ron said. Although there is no local competition in town, there are several larger towns located within 100-kilometre radius. Even though the competition is located some distance away, Ron admits that he still does lose some business to them. Being remote and 75 kilometres off the major highways is a huge challenge, and freight is a constant battle, he said. Stand-out qualities Today Thrifty-Link Rainbow is not only well-known for its outstanding customer service and innovative side-businesses, but Ron is also well-known for his dedication and service to the local community over many years. “I have always been involved in the local community in some way whether it be the fire brigade or the school. I am one of the shire Councillors, I served as Mayor three times and I used to be heavily involved in the footy club. I believe that people support me because of my dedication and interest in the local community.” Today the store’s stand-out departments include gardening and paint, but Ron believes there are several other arms of the business that continue to thrive as well. “I still sell a lot of steel and timber and I have the equipment out the back where I can fold sheet metal and make flashing for sheds. I also weld where I must. The areas I have diversified into have certainly helped the business.” Future upgrades Future improvements to the store include banner changes as the business transfers from a Thrifty-Link to Home Hardware in the New Year. Ron said the store’s future is all about fine-tuning the business as well as constantly renovating and expanding the store’s popular garden area. “My son, Thomas, is currently undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship. He could take over if he was so inclined or we could lease out the workshop one day and find a young engineer who might be interested in managing this part of the store. Eventually, I know I will have to step down as I get older as I have a few ailments from all of the physical work I did at the store when I was younger.” “Back in the day we used to lug 40-kilogram bags of cement, 10 or 12 tonnes at a time and shovelled stone and sand. When customers came in for a cubic yard of stone or sand, we shovelled it by hand. There were no forklifts or front-end loaders, everything was done manually so I am paying for that now. While my mobility may decrease, I am happy to run the business for now and take it day-by-day. My hope is that it will still be standing in another 100-years from now,” Ron concluded. RETAIL FOCUS Store owner Ron Ismay is well-known for his service and dedication to the local community. A large shed at the rear of the store was once used to store 4000 tonnes of grain. 8 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | DECEMBER '23

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With Christmas being the busiest time of year, retail businesses like yours are bracing themselves for an influx of customers, challenging inquiries, and the need for heightened security measures. For unprepared stores, this surge can lead to disorder, potential security issues, mishaps, and unnecessary costs, not to mention disgruntled staff and customers. It is crucial to have a well-prepared and efficient workforce, or your staff may find themselves overwhelmed and lacking the tools to meet customer expectations. At National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA) Training, we recognise the importance of arming your team with the skills necessary to navigate this busy period seamlessly. With the right training, your retail team can handle the upcoming holiday season with efficiency and success. Reinforce your company policies and procedures Before delving into specific skills, ensuring that your staff are wellversed in your company's policies and procedures is imperative. A robust onboarding process for casuals and periodic refreshers for long-termers can be invaluable. Connect with your team to communicate expectations and align them with your company’s values, clarifying day-to-day adherence. Train all your staff The significance of upskilling all your customer-facing staff, including casuals, cannot be overstated. Consider in your training if you have covered the skills needed to encompass high-level BEHIND THE COUNTER Now is the best time to refresh and expand on staff training and workplace procedures to optimise your business’ customer service and retail environment. In this issue of Behind the Counter, Louise Kinloch, Registered Training Organisation (RTO) General Manager – NTHA Training (RTO #5343), highlights key areas to focus on in your business while also sharing advice on how to develop staff and customer relationships. Equip your team for customer service success

customer service capabilities, enhanced de-escalation techniques and increased point-of-sale proficiency. If staff are trained with these skills, they will elevate confidence, and job satisfaction, which will flow on to your customers. Top tips for staff excellence during busy periods: Engaging with customers • Effective communication: Instruct your staff on consistently communicating with customers. Provide guidance on greetings, language during sales processes, and post-sale interactions. Establish a script for phone, counter, and email interactions and include example responses to difficult questions or requests ahead of when they happen. • U tilise small talk: Encourage genuine customer small talk as an ice-breaker, making waiting times more pleasant. • Role-play: Incorporate role-playing into training to enhance effective communication skills in everyday situations. • Follow-up procedures: Define how you want your team to follow up after a sale, whether through emails or phone calls. Assisting customers with difficulties • De-escalation techniques: Train staff in acknowledging waiting times and using language to prevent escalation. Establish a process for managing customer wait times. • Active listening: Emphasise the importance of active listening and empathy, including eye contact and understanding non-verbal cues. • Asking questions: Encourage staff to ask questions for clarity and repeat information to ensure understanding. • D evelop a template: Create a template for potential customer difficulties and brainstorm creative solutions. • T imely follow-up and resolution: Have protocols in place for handling complaints or issues, including turnaround times. Identifying and responding to workplace security risks • S ecurity awareness training: Educate staff on store risks, emergency procedures, and personal safety protocols. • Theft situations: Implement procedures for handling potential theft, including policies for staff and customer engagement. • F oster a vigilant culture: Lead by example, encourage teamwork, and establish a reporting process for unacceptable behaviour. • E nsure physical safety: Provide guidelines for personal space, use of counters as barriers, and clear expectations on workplace health and safety. Foster a supportive and understanding workplace culture • L ead by example: Often the most valuable training comes from watching and listening to others in real-time. Ensure your management and senior staff make a good impression on your wider team by living by your company’s values and expectations day in, and day out. • G rowth mindset: When situations could have been handled better, take it as a learning opportunity. Reflect with your staff on what happened, where they can improve next time, and draft an action plan to prevent a reoccurrence. • P ositive affirmation: Do not hesitate to praise your team when they effectively handle a challenging situation. With all the above agreed approaches, we recommend developing and designing a printable staff handbook with clear checklists to serve as a quick reference for staff at point-ofsale. Consider including templated scripts for communications, customer greetings, regular questions and how to respond, de-escalation processes, post-sale communications and sales-prompters in this manual. Having solid guidelines and additional staff training will build confidence, create a positive workforce culture, and help serve your customers for the best possible experience – especially during particularly busy periods. NTHA: Your training partner At NTHA Training, we understand the challenges your staff may face during this hectic time of year. NTHA Training is your partner in creating a wellequipped, confident, and efficient retail team. Our courses are tailored to your business's needs, offering flexibility, affordability, and the skills necessary to thrive in any retail environment. Choose fast-track training for quick skills acquisition or a Career KickStarter with a SIR30216 Certification III in Retail for a formal qualification. NTHA Training, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO #5343), is committed to supporting you on this journey to creating a successful retail business. Visit, email, or call us at 1800 822 621 for a friendly discovery chat. About Louise Kinloch Louise Kinloch is a highly accomplished executive operations and education leader, boasting over 20 years of industry experience in education. Currently serving as the General Manager – Training for the National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA), Louise brings a wealth of knowledge to the vocational education sector. She holds an Executive Master of Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational Education and Training. Renowned for her strategic acumen, Louise excels in optimising business opportunities, fostering team growth, and aligning individuals with organisational goals. Her expertise spans learning and development, regulatory environments, and various core human resources disciplines, making her a valuable asset in driving growth and success. DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 11

US NEWS Ace Hardware store is the latest victim of cyberattacks Do it Best President receives 2023 Sagamore of the Wabash Award Ace Hardware has been the latest organization to fall victim to a cyberattack and is now struggling to recover multiple online-supported business operations. Describing the attack as a “fast-moving, dynamic situation” with details “changing rapidly”, Ace Chief Executive Officer and President John Venhuizen sent an email to its more than 5,800 retailers to explain the systemwide outage, Cybernews reported. “On Sunday morning, we detected a cybersecurity incident that is impacting the majority of our IT systems,” the email stated. “As a result of this incident, many of our key operating systems, including ACENET, our Warehouse Management Systems, the Ace Retailer Mobile Assistant (ARMA), Hot Sheets, Invoices, Ace Rewards, and the Care Center’s phone system have been interrupted or suspended,” it said. “Nothing is more important than restoring all operations as soon as humanly possible,” said Mr Venhuizen, who labeled the circumstances as, “a battle of good versus evil.” The Illinois-headquartered company explained that 1,202 devices – including 196 servers – were hit during the attack and needed to undergo restoration. The cyberattack caused all systems to be suspended, including those used to receive customer orders, as well as all customer shipments, which were canceled for October 30 and 31. “Scheduled deliveries are adversely impacted, and retailers are requested to refrain from placing additional orders for now, as these cannot be processed,” the email said. In an update to retailers later the same day, the company urged stores to stay open for its customers as Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, credit card processing, and Ace Hardware bankcard programs were not impacted by the cyberattack. “Your Ace team, along with the support of a group of technical forensic experts, is working feverishly to resolve this situation,” Mr Venhuizen said in the email. Governor Eric Holcomb paid a visit to the Electric Works campus for the first time since 2020. During his visit, he presented the Sagamore of the Wabash Award to Dan Starr, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Do it Best, and was joined by the Do it Best team and other attendees at the Don Wolf Conference Center. The award recognizes distinguished statewide service and is given to exemplary Hoosiers. Governor Holcomb presented the award in front of hundreds of attendees, including the Do it Best team and community leaders. “Indiana’s own Dan Starr’s leadership over the years has been exemplary. As the leader at Do it Best, Indiana’s largest privately-held company, Dan’s contributions have had immense positive impacts on his community and our state,” said Governor Holcomb. “As a driver of relentless innovation and company culture, he has set a standard for facing difficult challenges head-on, never losing sight of the customer. For all of his accomplishments and model servant leadership, I am proud to recognize Dan today before his peers with the Sagamore of the Wabash award.” Mr Starr has held several leadership roles within the greater Fort Wayne community, participating on civic, charitable, and business boards and is currently Chair of the Parkview Health Board of Directors. He also serves on the Manchester University Board of Trustees Outreach Committee and the Do it Best Foundation Board of Directors. “Dan embodies the essence of servant leadership,” said Do it Best Board Chairman Joe Taylor. “He understands that true leadership is not about being in charge, but about taking care of those in your charge. Dan has continuously put the success and growth

DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 13 Lowe's Foundation announces new gable grants to Goodwill, LISC, and NCCER The Lowe's Foundation has announced a total of $3 million in Gable Grants to three national nonprofit organizations that are delivering innovative and scalable skilled trades training in local communities nationwide. The $1 million in grants are being awarded to Goodwill Industries International, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). These grants will fund programs that prepare more individuals for skilled trades careers, including providing accelerated training, coaching, wraparound services and targeted workforce development in communities impacted by natural disasters. "Each of these organizations brings something different to the table through their robust network of skilled trades training programs and a strong local and national presence," said Janice Dupré, Lowe's Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Chair of the Lowe's Foundation. "These programs, paired with the grants to community and technical colleges announced this summer, are a critical step as the Lowe's Foundation continues to help build a sustainable infrastructure of innovative skilled trades programs across our communities." Goodwill has stated that they will use the funding to support the Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator. This program offers workforce development that provides holistic wraparound services to help participants from any background develop foundational digital and job-ready skills to pursue a pathway into an in-demand industry position. This comes to life through the support of strong partner relationships with employers, credentialing organizations and funders. "We are extremely grateful for this grant from the Lowe's Foundation, which will enhance the dignity and quality of life for job seekers nationwide," said Martin Scaglione, Chief Mission Officer of Goodwill Industries International. "The critical support provided by Gable Grants will help us leverage the Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator, our holistic workforce delivery model. This will increase access to skilled trades training and help dedicated tradespeople connect with employers who need them." LISC will fund 12 partners offering industry-specific training, financial coaching, income support access, and wraparound services to skilled trades job seekers in local communities. "We know that building bridges between workers and potential employers at the community level, combined with culturally relevant training and coaching support, is a highly effective model," said LISC Chief Executive Officer Michael Pugh. "This grant will allow us to ramp up access to training in the skilled trades in places it has been historically lacking, and it will help lead hundreds of people into fulfilling careers." NCCER announced it will expand its Community Construction Academies to underserved individuals in response to community and workforce needs. These boot camp-style training programs build upon a successful tuition-free, rapid recovery construction training pilot that was funded by Lowe's last fall to help rebuild Southwest Florida communities after Hurricane Ian. The academies allow program participants to earn industryrecognized NCCER construction craft credentials as well. "We see an opportunity to engage and train individuals to help with rebuilding efforts locally and provide opportunities for fulfilling careers in construction that can last a lifetime. We are grateful for the opportunity to scale this program. We know these academies can transform both communities and lives," said Boyd Worsham, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCCER. of our members, vendors, and employees at the forefront of his decision-making, and we are a better, stronger company because of it.” Mr Starr said that he was honored and humbled to receive the Sagamore of the Wabash award. “I have always believed that true leadership is about serving others – it is a philosophy that guides us at Do it Best, and I am fortunate to work with a team that shares this commitment. This award is a testament to the strength of our company and the incredible growth and community we have built together.” Mr Starr has served as president and Chief Executive Officer of Do it Best since January 2016. He joined the company back in 2005 as Director of Human Resources and General Counsel, was promoted to Vice President of Human Resources in July 2006, and was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in June 2012. His dedication and positive impact have been felt throughout all of his roles and this is why his leadership is being recognized with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award.

14 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | DECEMBER '23 NZ NEWS PlaceMakers invests in worker safety Mill workers face job loss due to Te Tairãwhiti closure PlaceMakers has introduced Safety Snap to promote a positive health, safety, and well-being culture among its workforce. The program aims to identify potential challenges that employees may face, which could affect their well-being, result in absenteeism, or lead to worker turnover. Following a successful pilot period that achieved high worker engagement and generated valuable insights, the program will now be expanded. “We take the wellbeing of our staff very seriously, so using Safety Snap was a logical move for us. We are really pleased with how simple it has been to use – it was very easy for the site leadership and workers to keep using it,” said Mark Buckenham, General Manager of Manufacturing and Estimating at PlaceMakers Manufacturing. “The analysis from the SaferMe team led by Dr Cantwell has been excellent. It has helped us identify areas where we are performing strongly, and a couple of tweaks we can implement to make our site even better and safer for staff.” Safety Snap is a workplaceintegrated tool that generates psychosocial data through a weekly micro-survey that takes less than 60 seconds. This solution is available in any language and does not require an app. The development of this tool was co-funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as part of its Workplace Injury Prevention Innovation Programme. SaferMe founder and Chief Executive Officer, Clint van Marrewijk said he was thrilled to partner with PlaceMakers and help generate valuable insights. “It is wonderful to see their workforce engaging so well with the tool, and for the leadership to now be working on insights generated. The impact will make a real difference for workers.” “With the amount of data we have, we are now providing valuable industry benchmark information, so our customers get very rich context about their results,” Mr van Marrewijk said. Over the past 12 months, SaferMe has continued to expand Safety Snap in both New Zealand and Australia following the implementation of new psychosocial hazard laws in Australia. For more information visit: A large wood processing mill in Te Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) is being closed by Japanese-owned New Zealand forestry company, Juken, with 60 workers set to lose their jobs before Christmas and another 20 to lose their jobs in March 2024. Juken New Zealand is closing down its 30-year-old mill due to financial difficulties and falling demand. Radio New Zealand reported that First Union represented the workers, with its spokesperson, Colleen Ryan, saying they were heartbroken, with some losing their entire family income. "Even though they knew this was potentially going to happen, it was extremely upsetting for them," she said. "In some cases, we have got couples that both worked there, which is going to be doubly bad. They are absolutely devastated. When I phoned one of our delegates she was in tears talking to me. Even with the knowledge or the potential knowledge that this is going to happen, [at] this time of year, it is devastating," Ms Ryan said. She added that the union would meet with workers to offer support and help them find new employment. Managing Director Hiroyuki Kawado announced the closure of the mill after two weeks of consultation with staff on options. “It is with sadness that I have advised them that the decision has been made to stop production as we cannot continue with the ongoing losses being made by the mill and have not identified an alternative solution that will turn the situation around,” he said. “While we are still open to having conversations about selling the business, or part of the business, to suitable buyers, this is likely to take a significant amount of time. We are now consulting with affected staff to understand who may be interested in being part of that transition crew and/or redeployment within our wider business. Notice of redundancy will be given once we have considered all requests for such roles,” Mr Kawado said.

DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 15 Home building inflation at its lowest since 2020 Fletcher Building remains optimistic about the housing market New Zealand's housebuilding costs are rising at the slowest pace in nearly three years due to subdued demand caused by high-interest rates and economic uncertainty. Construction costs rose 0.5 per cent in the three months through September, the smallest gain since the fourth quarter of 2020, CoreLogic New Zealand reported. From a year earlier, the costs had climbed 3.4 per cent. The Reserve Bank's monetary tightening and weak economy have led to a decline in house prices and consumer confidence, resulting in a slowdown in the demand for new homes. Building consents in the year through August were also 17 per cent lower than the year-earlier period. The construction cost index is based on the cost of building a 200 square metre brick and tile house including labour, materials, plant hire and sub-contractors. The gauge rose a record 10.4 per cent in 2022, reflecting a squeeze on the supply of building materials such as wallboard, and a shortage of tradesmen and labourers due to the closed border preventing the arrival of foreign workers. “We have now entered a more subdued phase for construction cost inflation, reflecting the marked easing in materials supply chains, compared to the COVID-affected period over 2021 and 2022,” said CoreLogic Chief Property Economist Kelvin Davidson. “It would not be a surprise to see the quarterly rate of change continue in the vicinity of 0.5 per cent for the next few quarters.” “While new builds probably will not get cheaper, a controlled annual growth rate of two to three per cent gives confidence for buyers to invest, and for developers to keep bringing projects forward,” Mr Davidson said. Fletcher Building is optimistic about exceeding sales targets due to positive signs in the housing market. During the notes for the company's annual meeting in October, Chief Executive Officer Ross Taylor mentioned that the sales of houses were going well, averaging around 20 to 25 per week so far this financial year. He also stated that house prices had stabilised and were now starting to trend up slightly, Stuff reported. “If this momentum in sales continues, there could be upside to our prior 700800 unit sales target for the financial year,” Mr Taylor said. Fletcher Building's prospects in the housing market are looking up this year. In the previous financial year, the company sold 617 units, which was lower than the 670 units sold the year before. The decrease was attributed to a rapid increase in interest rates, which led to a decreasing demand and an average drop in house prices of about 15 per cent. The latest report from the Real Estate Institute in September indicated a rise in positive sentiment in the property market during spring. The report showed stable prices, an increase in sales counts, and a decrease in the number of days it took properties to sell. The figures showed sales across New Zealand were 5.1 per cent higher in September compared to the same time last year, taking total sales to 5439. Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) Chief Executive Officer Jen Baird said that confidence in the property market was strengthening, with signs of an upward trend continuing to grow. Mr Taylor said the lift in the housing market would be positive for other areas of the company. “This market trend is a positive for our New Zealand materials and distributions businesses, as increased activity across the residential end market will ultimately flow into the volumes across these businesses,” he said. Mr Taylor said profits from the company's residential and development division would be more heavily weighted towards the second half of the financial year due to the settlement schedule.

Forestry Australia was recently awarded the Association Turnaround of the Year Award. TIMBER UPDATE Forestry Australia releases forestry management statements Association Forum Awards recognises Foresty Australia Forestry Australia has released three new and highly topical Position Statements to share its evidencebased positions on important issues relating to the management of forests across Australia. The Statements cover Conservation of Threatened Species, Forest Carbon Markets, and the Thinning of Native Forests. Each of which are designed to be accessible to all. Forestry Australia President Dr Michelle Freeman said evidence was critical to inform decision-making and to provide balance to debates around the management of Australia’s forests. “Now more than ever we need to ensure that there is evidence-based and balanced information readily available, given we live in an era of information overload, misinformation, and disinformation,” Dr Freeman said. “Forestry Australia’s Position Statements are designed to do just that – to cut to the chase and provide clear information based on science, the world’s best practice and evidence-based research.” “We want to ensure that when policymakers, the media, and the wider community discuss, debate, and decide on issues that affect future forest management, they have these easy-to-read Statements at hand,” she said. On the Gold Coast, 475 delegates gathered at the recent highly successful Australia New Zealand Institute of Forestry (ANZIF) conference, where Forestry Australia released the three new Position Statements, which takes their total released to date to eight. “Each two-page Position Statement explains the context for the specific topic and presents Forestry Australia’s position, with supporting information. I want to acknowledge the significant amount of work that has been done by groups of volunteer experts to develop these Statements,” Dr Freeman said. The Position Statements can be found at: Forestry Australia recently received the Association Turnaround of the Year Award at the Associations Forum Awards Dinner in Sydney. Forestry Australia Chief Executive Officer Jacquie Martin said the national recognition was a testament to members, staff, volunteers, and the Board, Timberbiz reported. “The Association Turnaround of the Year Award recognises the successful transformation of Forestry Australia in recent years,” Ms Martin said. “In the last five years, we have achieved significant membership growth, increased member satisfaction, expanded member benefits, increased revenue and equity, and made a huge step-change from being reactive towards leading the way.” Since June 2020, membership has increased by over 20 per cent, reaching 1,200 members in June 2021. “Importantly, we are attracting the next generation of leaders in our sector, with a doubling of student and young professional members in recent years, as well as a six per cent increase in female members,” Ms Martin said. Forestry Australia maintains a positive relationship and focus when it comes to its members, one that is evident in member growth and satisfaction. “Our commitment to our members has seen our Net Promoter Score increase 67 points and member satisfaction has risen by 26 per cent in five years; our member satisfaction has hit 85 per cent in 2023, which is a remarkable turnaround.” This follows the success of Forestry Australia’s 2023 Australia New Zealand Institute of Forestry (ANZIF) Conference, which attracted a record 475 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. “Forestry Australia is focussed on supporting active and adaptive forest management, evidence-based decision making, and the scientists, professionals and growers who manage, study and care for our forests,” she said. “I would like to thank our team in the national office, current and past board members, volunteers and our members for their passion, dedication and ongoing support – this award is for you,” Ms Martin concluded.

DECEMBER '23 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 17 Transitional Board appointed by Forestry Centre of Excellence Forestry Corporation apologises for protected trees removal A Transitional Board for the Forestry Centre of Excellence has been appointed by the South Australian Government at Mount Gambier, naming Professor Rob Lewis as the independent Chair. Currently the Director of Science Without Bounds, Professor Lewis is already contracted by the State Government to facilitate engagement between industry, government, and other stakeholders, while also providing strategic advice and leadership in establishing the Forestry of Excellence. Timberbiz reported that the Forestry Centre of Excellence is initially being established within the University of South Australia (UniSA), with oversight by this Transitional Board and an independent chair while the final structure is designed. Once the board is in place, operations will be transitioned to a permanent structure as the Transitional Board is replaced with a skills-based board. The Labor Malinauskas Government has reportedly committed $15 million over 10 years for the new forestry centre, which is the first of its kind in South Australia, and is being developed to create long-term research and development capabilities to enhance the Green Triangle’s economic prosperity and generate more jobs and investment in the region. The centre will accommodate entities such as the National Institute of Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) along with UniSA, the Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub (GTFIH), Tree Breeding Australia and the Logging Investigation and Training Association (LITA Training) at the existing UniSA/TAFE precinct in Mount Gambier. The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has issued an apology for the unintentional removal of 17 trees from a protected area of Coopernook State Forest during a forestry operation that took place in 2021. The corporation has collaborated with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to develop an Enforceable Undertaking that outlines a series of projects aimed at compensating for the mistake, Timberbiz reported. The incident occurred in December 2021 when Forestry Corporation's contractor mistakenly harvested trees in a riparian exclusion zone, allegedly breaching the Forestry Act 2012. The alleged breaches were self-reported to the EPA by Forestry Corporation. General Manager Hardwood Forests Daniel Tuan said compliance with the environmental regulations is of paramount importance. “We are disappointed that we did not comply on this occasion, and we are sorry. When we identified the error, we immediately self-reported it to the EPA,” he said. “We have worked collaboratively with the EPA over the past 12 months to identify investments that will deliver tangible environmental and community benefits to compensate for the damage this operation caused.” The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales must pay $500,000 towards four environmental projects in a legally binding Enforceable Undertaking with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority. EPA Director Operations Steve Orr said adherence to stringent rules regarding forestry operations is crucial. “These trees were in a protected riparian exclusion zone, close to streams, so removing them had the potential to destabilise the soil and cause potential harm to the aquatic system as well as reduce available habitat for fauna,” Mr Orr said. The Enforceable Undertaking (EU) requires Forestry Corporation to fund four projects that will deliver benefits to the environment, the local community, and improve its operations including: • $150,000 to develop and test an industry-first in-cab Boundary Warning Prototype to improve forestry operational boundary management. • $150,000 to improve Forestry Corporation’s corporate website to better inform external stakeholders about its forestry operations. • $100,000 to establish and maintain a nature-themed playground at the Forest Camping Ground in Coopernook State Forest that will cater for an expanded visitor demographic. • $100,000 to establish, monitor and maintain breeding sites for threatened frog species in the Olney State Forest. Forestry Corporation has agreed to pay $37,802.94 for legal and investigative costs, as well as future compliance monitoring costs. These projects will be delivered over the next 12 months and progress will be reported regularly to the EPA. In the meantime, Forestry Corporation is reviewing its systems, processes, and training to ensure the full implementation of strict environmental regulations in forestry operations.

There is no doubt that 2023 has proven to be yet another challenging and interesting year. What is different about this year is that now, more than ever, independents and suppliers are highly resilient to changing economic conditions. In this year’s Industry Insight feature, industry leaders reveal their strategies on how they not only survived but thrived in the ever-changing hardware industry. Industry leaders reveal strategies for success IHG CEO, Annette Welsh The Independent Hardware Group (IHG) has stayed resilient in the face of challenging economic conditions this year, while also remaining deeply rooted in its values of building successful independents. IHG Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Annette Welsh, sees the independent hardware network remain optimistic about the opportunities to come. “Our vision is to be the number one to the small and medium builder and the exceptional service provided by our members has allowed us to maintain this position particularly well. We are seeing builders look for ways to complete projects with a quicker turnaround time, and this has opened up more opportunities.” “We want every opportunity to enable our ‘Whole of House’ strategy to be a one-stop shop. So we ensure that everything we do, from supply to also consolidating the procurement process, is made easy for both the builder and the tradie,” Ms Welsh said. From a DIY perspective, Ms Welsh adds, “We continue to build our members to a strong number two position in the market. The recent half-year results saw sales growth in DIY. Our compelling customer value proposition of getting the job done right the first time proves that our product range offering resonates with the market and continues to peak consumer interest.” “The transactions in DIY show that we held onto the DIY consumer that came to us during the pandemic and we continue to see a growing market share. We see a lot more people shopping locally and looking for excellent service and advice that helps consumers solve their DIY needs from start to finish,” Ms Welsh said. Looking ahead, the building industry is expected to face ongoing economic challenges next year. However,