AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL

www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.139 No.2 Feb 2024 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886

DEPARTMENTS Newsmakers Features 5 Viewpoint 6 Industrial Focus 10 Behind the Counter 12 US News 14 NZ News 16 Timber Update 33 News 36 What’s New 18 Hardwood shortages set to challenge timber industry As the Victorian and Western Australian state governments cease native logging, the move has left much of the timber industry questioning where new sources of supply will come from. 25 S mart Homes & Products – Creating a smarter world With consumers embracing smart products into their daily lives more, the smart homes and products market is predicted to reach significant highs in sales and growth. 12 Lowe’s transforms after school club. 14 Apprentice makes Registered Master Builders history. 16 MGATMA welcomes members to new brand identity. About the Cover Sutton Tools recently embarked on a journey to craft a logo that truly embodies our essence. The result? The bold ‘S shield’ paired with the powerful tagline ‘Superior Since 1917’. It is a symbol of our enduring legacy, built on unwavering craftsmanship and engineering excellence. With this iconic mark, Sutton Tools stands tall as a testament to our rich history and unwavering commitment to quality. www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.139 No.2 Feb 2024 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886 35 6 18 25 4 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

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 How well do you REALLY know your customers? Some of the biggest mistakes made by larger retailers, including Woolworths, often come about by overlooking the smallest things and neglecting to stay closely aligned with their customers. It seems that despite all of the customer surveys, loyalty card data, and the dayto-day sourcing of purchases and demographics, even the biggest and the best can miss the mark. I say this in the aftermath of Woolworths and Aldi’s misconception of how the majority of Australians perceive and wish to celebrate Australia Day. It has since become apparent that those Australians who chose to vote against the recent Voice referendum also happen to strongly support the name and date of Australia Day. This became even more evident after a backlash from Woolworths customers when the supermarket giant decided to reduce or ban the sale of Australia Day merchandise. It seems that a majority of Australians are proud to celebrate their country and culture, and wish to celebrate by displaying Aussie flags, hats, glasses and even temporary tattoos that became increasingly difficult to source this year. The decision quickly angered customers who said they were upset Woolworths had removed “their choice on whether to purchase Australia Day merchandise”, and said the supermarket giant had neglected to respect both sides of the debate. The Woolworths Group reported that the reasoning behind the decision was a decline in demand for the products while also responding to broader discussions around January 26 and its meaning to the country’s diverse communities. Post Australia Day, Woolworths Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci said the situation could have been handled better and shoppers had the right to decide how they celebrate January 26. Interestingly, Mr Banducci also said that the choice to remove Australia Day merchandise from shelves was made 12 months ago due to a reduction in sales and they were concerned unsold merchandise would end up as landfill. While the debate moved from consumer's opinion on the meaning behind Australia Day celebrations, to then arguing over a freedom of choice removed, the bottom line is Woolworths neglected to read their customer and major damage was done. Independents were the winners in this scenario after supporting the sale of Australia Day merchandise. The support of independents was evident throughout many social media channels in the lead-up to the day. This month’s Industrial Focus is the perfect example of how much a store’s success is based primarily on listening to the needs of customers. Incredibly Ross’s Diesel Service managed to grow its store sales from $5k to over $4 million simply by listening to the needs of its customers, seeking advice from reputable suppliers and understanding which products competitors were in demand and not being stocked by competitors. To read more about this inspirational story go to Page 6 of this edition. Coming up AHJ’s March edition is one of the biggest of the year with full coverage of IHG’s Expo included as well as the Building Materials, Electrical Fittings, Lights & Accessories features, along with Workwear and PPE. To participate in the IHG Expo special edition contact Harry Rabiee: harry@glenv.com.au Christine Bannister - Editor

Industrial store evolves from heavy-duty mechanical shop A heavy-duty mechanical workshop located in the outback town of Merredin in Western Australia, has become the unlikely location of a thriving industrial and hardware store. Business: Ross’s Diesel Service Operators: Ross, Luke and Kane Swarts Location: Merredin, Western Australia Buying Group: Construction Supply Specialists (CSS) For over 30 years, the heavy-duty diesel workshop has repaired and maintained local truck and farming equipment for the Merredin community, located 250 kilometres east of Perth. After many years in the business, workshop founder Ross Swarts invited his two sons, Luke and Kane, to work alongside him in the business after they became qualified mechanics. For over 30 years the workshop had just two shelves of nuts and bolts for customers to purchase as spares. But ten years ago the entire business changed for the better when Luke was given the opportunity to grow the retail business not only into a successful store, but a thriving destination for local trades and DIYers. “I was probably on the tools for eight years when I broke my leg badly playing local football. I did not realise it at the time, but the injury meant I could not walk for 12 months. It all turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Luke said. “It was a long recovery so Dad said I could sit at the front of the shop and order parts in for the jobs. At the time we held two shelves of stock and we sold probably $5,000 to $10,000 over the counter per year if that.” “As I began dealing with customers and suppliers, I asked them if there was anything else that they needed from us. I began ordering more stock and as it grew, I started selling more. I then spoke with the reps when they came in and haggled them for the best price so I could stock more range,” he said. Luke also began conducting research on what his father had ordered in the past and he began to ring suppliers to source better quality parts as well as better pricing. It was not long before the shop grew substantially and it was decided that this would be Luke’s role on a permanent basis. “The retail side of the business became so big and so busy that I built the business to an annual turnover of $50,000, then to $150,000. The next minute it was close to one million, with the highest turnover being $4.5 million.” 6 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

Use our modules to customise your space Water saving trays also available Chargeback available to Group members We ship our displays Australia wide Kits are in stock for immediate delivery 03 9555 3351 detailretail.com.au/shop/plant-stands Our cost effective modular garden display solutions tick all the boxes: CIRCULAR DISPLAYS TIERED DISPLAYS HOT DIPPED GALVANISED STEEL TUBING TABLES AND BENCHES FOR PLANTS AND SEEDLINGS With Detail Retail, your garden centre displays will fall into place! Don’t let your garden centre sales fall this Autumn! “I also took on six new staff members to help with the store. The business grew because I made sure I was ordering in products that people wanted to buy. I chased down the right suppliers, organised freight, and stocked the shelves. I also drew from my own experience when shopping in town. The stock just was not available locally and often I would have to order parts in six months in advance just so I knew it was there.” “Local shops did not hold a lot of stock because they were worried about cash flow. Stock is king. I learned very quickly that if I did not have it, I could not sell it, which is why I always make sure we are so well stocked,” he said. As the business grew, substantial changes were made in-store. Initially, a small shop area was created when a false wall was installed that took up about a quarter of the workshop. As the store grew the wall was taken down and moved to double the size of the store. “I had so much stock that I wanted to put on display and I really needed the room. I transformed a 27 metre by nine metre carport into a shed so I could have more stock in there and I filled that up very quickly. After I stole a few more bays of the workshop, I went on to build an entirely new workshop for my dad because I had taken over so much of his space for the shop,” he said. Stocking big brands Today the store is very different from its humble beginnings of just two shelves of stock, with local DIYers visiting the store for inspiration and builders using the store to purchase tooling and hardware. “I now have a lot of builders come in because the local stores do not stock what I have. Tooling is one of the shop’s biggest sellers including hand tools, power tools and drill bits.” Luke says that bringing the Milwaukee brand on board was also one of his biggest wins particularly when there is not much in town that would make a customer walk in to a shop and say, ‘I really want that!’ “I chased Milwaukee to open an account for me for over two years and never heard back from them. One day I was taken to the V8 supercars by one of my suppliers and on the way back I saw a Milwaukee car drive past. So I followed the Milwaukee rep when he INDUSTRIAL FOCUS The store's turnover has grown from $5k yearly to $4.5 million.

parked in Total Tools and I spoke with him personally. He turned out to be an outstanding rep, and he promised to come and see me.” “He visited a month later and agreed to open an account. It was quite a big outlay to begin with but we had to ensure we had all the right stock. I now have 300 plus SKUs of Milwaukee and my customers often tell me that I have more Milwaukee in my store than the whole of Perth. In the end, I just sell what people want to buy,” he said. The store not only now stocks a wide range of power tools, but also spare parts, auto-electrical, abrasives, lighting, oils, safety equipment and welding supplies. Local area Today Ross’s Diesel Service customer base is very diverse simply because the local community of Merredin is so varied. “The town is located at the centre of the wheat belt with a population of around 3000 people. Although the store does service the local farming community, it also services a lot of the government entities including Water Corp and Western Powers, as well as transport industries who work in the area as well.” “While we do have a lot of farmers, we also have a lot of business owners too who are in building and construction, along with mechanics and engineers who purchase a lot of their tools from us. We have a lot of DIYers coming in because our shop is so diverse, and people just love to come in and browse. A lot of people came in before Christmas to buy gifts as well. I know how important it is to make the sales when people walk into the shop otherwise they will go and order it online,” he said. Construction Supply Specialists (CSS) Although Luke was the main driver of the business, CSS held a big part in taking the business to a whole new direction and diversifying the business from trucking parts to all manner of tools. “CSS are always looking at ways to grow our businesses and benefit us. They make sure they grow the business the way you want to. They never tell you what to do, they are just there as a business partner and they are always there to help.” “When I was looking for a buying group, I spoke with former CSS Managing Director Jeff Wellard, and I explained that I wanted to grow my shop. I could not believe Jeff travelled all the way out in the desert to see me. We talked about how I wanted to grow the business from nothing.” “After I joined CSS, the opportunities just came about with people wanting to talk to me and deal with my store, whereas before I found it so difficult to get accounts. When you have CSS behind you people in the industry want to deal with you a lot more,” Luke said. Looking to the future Luke said he does love the store and running the business is a far cry from his days as a mechanic. “There are always challenges when running the business but as long as I listen to what the customers want and make sure I have plenty of stock for them to browse through, I believe the store will continue to grow and serve the local community which is what is most important,” Luke said. INDUSTRIAL FOCUS Store owners Luke with his father Ross who established the workshop over 30 years ago. The store now holds over 300 SKUs of Milwaukee products.

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The damaging floods and storms should be a red alert for small businesses to be prepared for natural disasters, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson warned recently. Mr Billson said there is an overwhelming majority of small and family businesses that do not have a current disaster preparation plan in place. “An inquiry by my office found only one in four small businesses have a current business continuity plan,” the Ombudsman said. “Natural disasters can be devastating for small and family businesses – either their business is directly damaged or wiped out, or they are an indirect victim who has survived the disaster only to have no customers because of the impact on their town or region.” “Taking simple steps to be better prepared, sensible risk mitigation action and bolstering resilience can help small and family businesses to get back on their feet quicker,” he said. Mr Billson added that in some cases when a disaster was imminent, small business owners were often the first to volunteer to lead local emergency response and business support groups, as well as help make preparations BEHIND THE COUNTER This year’s storm season is already reaping havoc across the country with heavy rainfall in Queensland causing severe flooding last month, as well as lightning storms in Western Australia leading to week-long power outages. With the wild weather expected to continue well into April, now is the perfect time to put a disaster plan in place for your business. Safe-guarding your business from natural disasters

for the community, including laying sandbags and moving stock and people to higher ground. “Just like the businesses they run, they are the lifeblood of our communities,” he said. “But I urge small and family businesses to be as prepared as possible and to be best placed to respond and recover. This can be as simple as ensuring your record keeping is up to date and that critical information is at hand and, where possible, digitised so you can retrieve it if your business is destroyed.” Although not a lot can be done to ensure the physical structure of a business is completely secure against natural disasters, there are ways to keep the computer data and important information of your business safe. To ensure business owners are better prepared for an unexpected natural disaster event, Mr Billson said small businesses can take the following steps: • M ake sure you have the contact details of your customers, suppliers, staff, accountant and other important people in a safe place. • C heck that you have copies of relevant accounts, passwords and backups of important operational data. • S ee if it is feasible to continue operating from another location. • E nsure your payments to relevant bodies such as insurers, lenders, and the Tax Office are up to date. The Ombudsman’s Small Business Natural Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Inquiry also recommends the creation of an opt-in ‘My Business Record’ to allow a small business to digitally store all relevant governmentheld and other vital information it might need after a disaster. “It is clear from our work that preparation is key to small and family businesses building resilience and coming through natural disasters in the best possible shape,” he said. “It is equally clear the small business community cannot do this on their own and when a natural disaster strikes, certainty of response and certainty of support must be provided. “By this, we mean small business owners should automatically be engaged in local place-based planning and support services and be elevated and ‘front of mind’ in disaster response, recovery and funding arrangements. This must include indirectly affected businesses,” Mr Billson said. “We believe a business hub should be established to provide a single point from which to seek help from government and non-government agencies. And we strongly recommend a “tell-us-once” triage system should be adopted to save small business owners the trauma and time associated with repeating their story.” Mr Billson said ongoing support should also continue in the aftermath of a disaster. “When a small business receives an Australian Government grant, an additional amount should be made available six to nine months later for a ‘business health check’,” he said. “We also need an integrated response to disaster risk management for identified disaster-prone areas that incorporates priority access to mitigation expenditure, co-ordinated planning across levels of government, infrastructure hardening, interestfree loans for asset and activity protection and relocation schemes, and possible use of a dedicated reinsurance vehicle.” Mr Billson said an ongoing problem was that many small businesses were unable to secure appropriate insurance at an affordable price. “If they can get insurance, it can come with excesses that would preclude any claim ever being made. Frustratingly, insurers are also uninterested in the steps individual small and family businesses take to mitigate disaster risk or are dismissive of them,” he said. Mr Billson said they have examples of individual businesses doing everything they possibly can but it has zero impact on the availability and the pricing of their premiums. “We are told this is because the insurance companies look at risk across a broader pool – it is community-wide or industry-wide or neighbourhood-wide analysis. Yet the narrative, amplified through advertising, is often about what individuals might do,” he said. “Many small and family businesses are individually doing what is being asked of them but are seeing no upside to pricing premiums and availability and affordability of insurance cover. What might be for some an insurance ‘gap’ is too often a ‘gorge’ for small businesses that too many cannot cross. The insurance sector needs to do better – and do it now.” Mr Billson said small businesses should not be forgotten in disaster planning and the clean-up. “Sadly, too often we have seen how natural disasters can cause lasting harm to the enterprising women and men building businesses, employing local community members, and contributing to the Australian economy,” he said. “For small and family business owners, their identities are interwoven into their business and the stakes are so much higher than just a job. Many have invested a lifetime – and put their life’s savings and family home on the line to build up their business.” “Small business creates vitality in our communities, employs two out of every five people with a private sector job and contributes one-third of our GDP, so it is absolutely worth building its resilience,” Mr Billson said. The Ombudsman has checklists and resources available online to help small businesses prepare for a disaster and, if needed, to recover after an event at: www.asbfeo.gov.au/resources-tools-centre/ disaster-preparation. FEBRUARY '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 11

US NEWS Lowe’s transforms after school club The Boys and Girls Club of the Piedmont campus in Statesville, North Carolina recently experienced a transformative change after receiving the generous Lowe's Hometown Grant. The significant gift has provided the creation of a new playground on the club's main campus. With more than 25 associates volunteering an entire day, the team resurfaced the basketball court, sow grass, planted trees, and, most importantly, provided a much-needed renovation on the Club's playground. “We are at maximum capacity at our Boys and Girls Clubs. We have about 376 kids enrolled in our afterschool program, and one of the main goals is to provide a safe environment for the kids. So having access to a good, safe place to come and be and run and play is vitally important during those formative years when these children are growing up and forming friendships and learning through play,” Clarissa Young, Executive Director of Boys and Girls Club Piedmont said. The old playground’s initial installation took place back in 2009 when the building was first constructed. Deterioration over the years rendered the playground equipment unusable for the last few years. The revitalization effort led by Lowe's is breathing new life into this space, providing a safe and enjoyable environment for the children. The impact of the new playground is not just physical as it holds sentimental value for many of those involved. Amy Christenbury, a Lowe's Store Manager, said that the Boys and Girls Club has a special place as it was where they spent most of their childhood. “All summers, my mom would drop me off while she was on her way to work, my brother and I, and spent all day at the Boys and Girls Club. We built lifelong friendships, we learned a lot of life lessons, and it just makes me so proud as a Lowe's associate to be able to work for a company that is investing in an organization that helped mould me as a person,” Amy Christenbury, Lowe's Store Manager, Mocksville said. Investing in organizations like the Boys and Girls Club reflects Lowe’s commitment to positively impacting the community and creating lasting memories for the children and families who benefit from these transformations. “I tell people this: Lowe's is the best example of corporate citizenship that I am aware of, and I really mean that. When I was superintendent, I got to work with many companies, but you guys are the gold standards,” Brady Johnson, Executive Director of Boys and Girls Club Piedmont said. Due to the age and compromised structural integrity of the playground, children have not been able to use the equipment since 2019. But thanks to Lowe’s and its associates they have not only replaced the old playground but beautified the entire club area to make it more welcoming and enjoyable. Now the children can use the new playground and learn through play – safely and happily. Home Depot supports 2.2 million jobs nationwide The Home Depot has released its economic contributions for the fiscal year of 2022. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Home Depot contributed $215 billion to the US economy in 2022, which is greater than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of 18 US states. This report, conducted in partnership with PwC, details the impact of the company's US operations on the economy at the national and state levels in fiscal year 2022. Based on the IMPLAN modeling system, PwC discovered that every one job in the company supports more than four additional jobs in the US economy, which is twice the retail average. A substantial donation from Lowes has transformed a playground used for an after school program. 12 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

Ace Hardware ranked one of the world’s top five franchises Ace Hardware is the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative, and is now ranked number five on the list of top franchise opportunities in the world in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 – the world’s first and most comprehensive franchise ranking. This improved ranking is a significant improvement from its seventh position in 2023. Such an achievement reflects the company's ability to gain the trust and loyalty of retailers and customers through its strong brand recognition, consistent sales growth, and unwavering support to its retailers. In its category, Entrepreneur also named Ace Hardware the number one franchise opportunity. This marks the third year in a row that Ace secured the top spot in the ‘Miscellaneous Retail Business’ category. “Moving up to number five on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list is an honor and a reflection of our commitment to helping our retail business owners succeed,” said John Kittell, Vice President of Retail Operations and New Business at Ace Hardware. “Our top priority is to support our locally owned entrepreneurs with industry-leading products and services that give them an advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. We continue to thrive because of our people. Ace Hardware’s growth and success is a direct reflection of our Ace retailers, upholding our helpful brand promise every day in the local communities we serve.” To view the full ranking, visit www.entrepreneur.com/franchise500. This includes jobs in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and warehousing. The Home Depot supported 2.2 million jobs in 2022, more than 400,000 of which were directly created by the company, and supported billions of dollars in wages, salaries and benefits. The company also promoted 65,000 associates in the US in the same year. The Home Depot’s economic impact goes far beyond the jobs it creates and supports. The taxes paid and generated by the company contribute significantly to the communities it serves, helping build roads, schools and other core infrastructure. PwC’s analysis found that the ecosystem of jobs and commerce created by The Home Depot contributed $60 billion of total tax impact at the federal, state and local levels. The company directly contributed over $22 billion to government finances in 2022, including taxes paid by The Home Depot, collected on its sales and paid by its associates in income taxes. The Home Depot paid approximately one per cent of the total net corporate income taxes collected by the U.S. government in 2022. “When The Home Depot opens in a neighborhood, we are committed to doing our part – whether that is helping people improve their homes, building careers for our associates and pro partners, or contributing to our communities through the taxes we pay,” said Richard McPhail, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Home Depot. “Our core values guide everything we do, and the way our associates give back to their neighborhoods is an enduring legacy of our company’s success.” Today the Home Depot stores, warehouses, and offices occupy around 300 million square feet of building space which is equivalent to more than 5,200 football fields. This is more than the combined area of all college and professional football fields. Since 2011, The Home Depot's associates have volunteered over two million hours for various communities. This volunteer project is in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation and equates to more than 228 years' worth of service hours. The Home Depot Foundation has surpassed $500 million invested in veteran causes since 2011 and updated its commitment with an incremental $250 million, now planning to invest $750 million by 2030. The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation have supported more than 14,700 nonprofits and, in 2023, the Foundation committed more than $6 million for disaster preparedness, response and long-term recovery in communities impacted by natural disasters. The Home Depot Foundation’s trades-focused partnerships have also trained more than 41,000 participants and introduced more than 200,000 people to the skilled trades, surpassing its commitment to training 20,000 people – six years ahead of schedule.

NZ NEWS Apprentice makes Registered Master Builders history Jess Nielsen has made history by becoming the first woman to place at the Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year competition. When 22-year-old Jess placed third at the national finals after winning the Waikato regional final she broke a record that symbolises the changing shape of the construction industry, says Registered Master Builders National President Johnny Calley. “A better understanding of the sector has led to the transition away from a traditional ‘blue-collar’ workforce to a widely respected industry that is attractive to a diverse range of people. Not only are we seeing an increase of more female building apprentices, but many people now are entering the trade as a second or third career choice,” Mr Calley said. While Jess is the first woman to place in the finals of the competition, which has been running for 20 years, she said it was encouraging to see other women competing in the qualifying rounds as well. “Over the whole competition, I know there were two [women] entrants from the Waikato and a few more in other regions – so it was good to see representation from across the country.” While Jess does not currently have a women-led network to call on, a move from Waikato to Wanaka could open doors for her in the future. “I have moved to the South Island and there are heaps more women working in the industry across qualified builders and apprentices. I have heard there is a women’s hub here that I can be a part of, so I am keen to get involved with that – and my boss’s wife, who works on the administration side of the company, is happy to help facilitate that,” Jess said. Her victory in Waikato involved high performance across several disciplines. Each apprentice was required to submit details of a building project they had worked on and take part in a two-hour practical challenge to build a step stool before progressing to a site visit and interview. The judges said Jess impressed them particularly during her interview and displayed remarkable skill levels around the site. “Jess is a highly impressive young person. Her building knowledge shone through in her interview, and she also showcased a great level of skill in the national practical competition where she scored very highly,” one judge said. Another remarked that during her interview, “it was clear that Jess has a very in-depth understanding of her project and she could speak confidently about the entire build process. Well done, Jess, you have a very bright future ahead of you.” Judges were also impressed with the level of focus and technique she showed with her tools. “She is very accurate in her work, shows excellent competency and her project was finished to an extremely high standard. At her site visit, Jess proved she was a well-rounded apprentice with a clear passion for the trades and a drive to perform. Jess is an impressive apprentice,” one of the judges added. During the competition Jess said she felt confident in all areas but was particularly proud of her diligence during the practical element. “We had no spare materials, so my measurements had to be bang on – which was a lot of pressure, but I made sure to be careful. I would say that is one of my strong suits on site as well,” she said. The Apprentice of the Year competition puts its contestants to the test and only the best truly rise to the challenge. As one of the finalists, Jess said it was a pleasure to test her in a high-pressure environment. Jess Nielsen is the first woman to place at the Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year competition. 14 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

MBIE closes BuiltReady consultation The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has recently concluded a consultation on its proposed amendments to the BuiltReady scheme. The consultation closed on December 12, and focused on the use of the BuiltReady brand and MBIE's manufacturer's certificate template. MBIE asked builders for feedback on two proposed changes to BuiltReady’s scheme rules which include: • I ncorporating the use of the BuiltReady brand for scheme participants. • M andating the use of MBIE’s manufacturer’s certificate template for registered manufacturers. The consultation results will be of interest to anyone using the BuiltReady scheme, including Building Consent Authorities (BCA), manufacturers of modular components, and other users including designers. “MBIE is proposing new scheme rules that set out requirements for how the BuiltReady brand can be used by scheme participants,” MBIE’s consultation document reported. “It is proposed that Schedule One: Use of the BuiltReady brand is added to the scheme rules that sets out the use of the BuiltReady brand including formatting requirements if a scheme participant chooses to use the BuiltReady brand for marketing and advertising purposes.” Scheme participants are not obligated to use BuiltReady branding but the proposed amendments make it clearer what expectations MBIE has for participants who decide to use the official branding. The second part of the consultation focused on manufacturer’s certificates. Manufacturers with registration can issue certificates to support building consent applications, as long as the certificate is for a component covered by their certification scope, ensuring compliance with the Building Code. The consultation document added, “MBIE is proposing that registered manufacturers must use the provided template to ensure consistency and clarity across certificates, which will aid building consent authorities, builders, designers and consumers to identify and understand BuiltReady manufacturer’s certificates. It will also mean that manufacturers have a clearer understanding of the requirements for the information that needs to be provided for the modular components that fall within scope of their certification.” The proposed change is designed to ensure consistency across BuiltReady manufacturer certificates nationwide and to increase ease of use for BCAs. BuiltReady was introduced as part of the Building Amendment Act 2021 to enable modular component manufacturers to be certified and registered to design and/or manufacture modular building components that meet Building Code requirements. The amendment enables the prefabrication process to be certified, leading to fewer inspections and faster building consent applications. The goal is to reduce costs, barriers, and onsite building time. Under Construction has previously reported on the BuiltReady scheme, and received assurances that builders who install modular components would not be held liable for their failure – as long as they were installed correctly. “BuiltReady certified and registered modular component manufacturers will be liable for any quality issues or defects in the components that they produce,” said Simon Thomas, National Manager Building System Assurance, MBIE. “Manufacturers who choose to participate in BuiltReady will have to meet quality standards and criteria in order to be BuiltReady certified, and demonstrate adequate means to cover any potential civil liabilities that may arise in relation to its modular components,” Mr Thomas said. “The competition was a good example of how to build fast and accurately while working under pressure. Do not get me wrong, there is pressure on site, but you would normally get days or weeks not minutes and hours,” Jess said. Despite not taking home the winner’s medal, Jess said she will look back on it with pride, as placing third is still a great achievement. “I am pretty hard on myself and I always want to win, but the reality of it is that I cannot always win. At the time I was disappointed, but I took a step back and reflected that I was happy with my overall performance,” Jess concluded.

TIMBER UPDATE 620 years of collective service revisit Hyne Federal Court rules to uphold NSW Regional Forestry Agreement Eighteen retired Hyne team members recently came together to reminisce while touring through Hyne’s Glue Laminated Timber Plant and Tuan Sawmill near Maryborough. Collectively, the group represented approximately 620 years of service, with one retiree, Kev Davies, having served for 50 years. Host and fifthgeneration Hyne family member, James Hyne, said it was a real pleasure to take the group through the operations and acknowledge the many changes, improvements, and efficiencies over the years. “Having worked in the company myself for over forty years, I have worked with all these retirees and enjoy keeping in contact,” James said. “I see many of them around Maryborough and it was in conversation with Glue Laminated Timber plant retiree [of 37 years], Dale Green, that he informed me he had never in his life been to our Tuan Mill.” “This got us talking about arranging a full tour of both Glulam and Tuan and getting many of the long-serving retirees together,” James said. The group enjoyed a BBQ lunch while all sorts of tales were shared. “In addition to the social catch-up, the new continuous drying kiln at Tuan and the new automated glue laminated timber plant with huge press, and timber structure, were certainly highlights of the tour that most attendees had not seen before,” James said. Rachael Halley, Glulam Site Support Officer, said the tour made her day. “It was so lovely to see them all and it shows how long I have been around, as I knew every single one of them and admit I shed a few tears saying goodbye to them.” Hearing about Hyne ‘back in the day’ and sharing stories, for existing team members as well as retirees further added value to the workplace for everyone. With several long-standing retirees unable to be contacted, Hyne Timber intends to host similar tours as well as more opportunities for social interaction. To register your interest contact Hyne Timber directly on (03) 9930 5700. Forestry Australia and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) have welcomed the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss a challenge on the validity of the New South Wales North-East Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). AFPA New South Wales Chief Executive Officer, James Jooste, said it is a vindication that sustainable native forestry operations in New South Wales are well governed by the federal-state regulatory framework. “The Federal Court decision is a vindication for the sector and the contribution it makes to the economy, environment, communities and society in New South Wales, Australia, and internationally. It is also a message to activists that the RFA framework stands, and the native forestry sector has a right to operate without their irresponsible legal meddling in the daily lives of timber workers and their families.” “The decision is also a major win for the climate, easing cost of living pressures and sovereign capability with so many renewable, sustainable, and essential products created by the New South Wales native forestry sector,” he said. The New South Wales native hardwood forestry industry is worth $1.8 billion to the economy and employs Front Row L-R: David Lightbody, Carol McDougall, Wayne Hay, Paul Robinson, Yvonne Loveday, Ian Harvey, Noel Puller, Chris Hyne, Kevin Davies, Chris Robertson. Second Row L-R: James Hyne, Terry Baker, David Bennetts, Mal Katchel, Dale Green, Jon Kleinschmidt, Russ Smith, Angela Pappin, John McDonald, Brian Sellke, Kelly Hyne, Dave McInnes.

Formerly TABMA and Hardware Australia 1800 822 621 info@ntha.com.au www.ntha.com.au 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) 9,000 people. For generations, they have provided a sustainable industry that selectively harvests forests for timber and fibre and manufactures it into high-grade construction timber, decking, furniture and other products. “I call on the Minns Government to continue recognising the importance of native forestry to the state and to work with us as plans progress for a Great Koala National Park on North Coast. Without the sector, we face a future of more timber and wood fibre imports from countries without Australia’s high regulatory standards, fewer quality job opportunities in our regions, increased cost of living and a stalled progression on emissions reduction,” Mr Jooste said. “The industry will now continue to get on with the job it is there to do. By providing sustainably sourced products that are essential for our way of living, while making sure our regions continue to be vibrant places to live,” Mr Jooste said. Forestry Australia President, Dr Michelle Freeman, has also welcomed the Federal Court’s Decision to uphold the Regional Forest Agreement in New South Wales. “Common sense has prevailed, native forestry can have a strong future in Australia,” Dr Freeman said. “Forest managers, growers, scientists and workers will breathe a sigh of relief that the challenge by the North East Forest Alliance to the Regional Forest Agreement covering North Coast New South Wales native timber harvesting operations has been dismissed.” “Our Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), time and time again, have proven to be a successful way of sustainably managing Australia’s forests for all their values, and the Federal Court has confirmed this today.” Dr Freeman said that in public native forests that are available for timber harvesting, RFAs have protections in place for conservation and heritage. This adaptable multi-layered approach ensures key forest types and biodiversity are managed and conserved across the landscape. “The findings of the Federal Court confirm that RFAs achieve what they set out to do, with Justice Perry confirming the Court’s view that the RFAs provide an alternative mechanism through which the objectives of the national environmental laws can be achieved through a rigorous framework agreed by State and the Federal governments,” Dr Freeman said. “It is clear, that RFAs strike the right balance between the sustainable harvesting of timber, and providing rigorous environmental protections. Our forestry sector, its workers, families and communities that depend on it, can now move on with certainty in their future.” “Importantly, Australia’s entire forestry sector can keep on doing what it does best; sustainably managing our forests for their environmental, social, cultural and economic values,” Dr Freeman concluded. FEBRUARY '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 17

As the Victorian and Western Australian state governments cease native logging to protect around two million hectares of forest, the move has left much of the timber industry questioning where new sources of supply will come from. Hardwood shortages set to challenge timber industry TIMBER, TIMBER FLOORING & DECKING Last year the Western Australian State Government claimed it would spend $350 million expanding softwood plantations to at least 33,000 hectares and $50 million to support affected workers and communities once native logging stopped on January 1 this year. But with softwood plantations taking over 30 years to harvest, the question remains where alternative supplies would be sourced. While it is certainly not ideal news for the timber industry, Hardware and Building Traders (HBT) National Business Manager – Timber, Peter Hurley says there will still be some native timber available from rack stock at the mills. “Rack stock is stock that has been cut in the sawn form and is currently air drying. This will mean there will be a product available as this becomes ready for processing and moulded. So there is still stock coming through from the timber that has already been processed.” “Typically what happens with many retailers is although they are aware of the potential for shortages, they tend to not react until they actually cannot source the product. So we are in the hiatus period because the Victorian sawmills have still got some stock to process,” Mr Hurley said. While some mills in northern Victoria will continue to draw some logs from New South Wales to ensure they have some supplies moving forward, Mr Hurley explains that the total reduction in supply is still around 137,000 cubic metres, “so they will not pick up all of that volume from elsewhere.” For now, various wholesalers and mills have begun to heavily promote alternative species. One such mill is ASH – a large sawmill located in Heyfield, Victoria which has begun to promote American Oak as an alternate program. “This product is mostly for the staircase and joinery-type markets as well as MASSLAM. ASH has already got this stock available as an alternative to Victorian Ash. There are other importers also bringing in alternate species such as Red Grandis and Beech. These are all good timbers but they are probably not as well known in the Australian market as the traditional Australian timbers.” “They will be more expensive in some cases. Imported timbers are also heavily influenced by shipping costs and exchange rates because in most cases they are purchased in US dollars,” he said. The Australian market will also be competing with global markets, particularly the US market where new housing activity is increasing. “American sawmills can get a good return if they can sell their product in the US market which is why they are less inclined to sell it here. We have not seen this happen to any significant extent just yet. I know ASH is still getting quite good supplies, but there is always a risk when you are trading in imported timbers,” he said. Looking to pine resources, Mr Hurley pointed out that there is limited capacity for the pine sawmills to produce significantly more because pine resources have not grown, especially after significant fires in the Tumbarumba area decimated plantations in 2019. “Anything that is harvested in pine plantations is replanted, however, there is no increase in the area of the plantation estate so there is limited capacity for the pine sawmills to produce significantly more.” 18 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

Late last year, the New South Wales Government launched a task force that was created specifically to investigate modern methods of construction and also address challenges currently inhibiting the Australian building and construction market, including shortages in labour, materials, and social housing. Off-site prefabrication set to boost construction National Timber and Hardware Association (NTHA) Chief Executive Officer, David Little says that so far, the task force has identified offsite prefabrication as an integral part of a solution to Australia’s housing crisis. Over the next 10 years, increased offsite prefabrication could have the potential to drive offsite construction from around five per cent of Australia’s housing productivity to up to 30 per cent. Utilising offsite construction to boost housing construction is not only expected to improve productivity within the building industry, but also has the potential to reduce construction costs while delivering an environmentally friendly alternative to housing. “The prefabrication roadmap represents an enormous opportunity for our industry because the timber industry, and our members are so well suited to these construction methods. NTHA is equally well placed to assist in growing and developing this new labour force so that we can capitalise on this method of offsite prefabrication,” Mr Little said. The taskforce will not only investigate the importance of smart building in government industrial policies, but also look at positioning smart building within the National Housing Accord and embed Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) in projects. The scheme would deliver more social homes on a larger scale and also assist with the development of homes within flood-affected areas, including the Northern Rivers Flood Response. “Our beautiful native hardwoods are harder to find now more than ever before and when you do find it, it “This is also why Australia will continue to import Baltic Pine from Europe to meet ongoing demand. Like hardwood, pine imports are dependent on shipping exchange rates and what other markets are doing, and this will also impact price. Australian pine plantations work on a 30-year rotation. They do get a couple of thinning’s during that period but the majority of sawlogs are produced at the end of the rotation.” Disrupted shipping is currently influencing timber prices and availability, particularly as terrorist attacks continue in the Red Sea. “Because of the ongoing terrorist attacks, many ships that usually travel through the Suez Canal are now going around the Cape of Good Hope. This has not only delayed shipping but added costs, while also disrupting shipping world-wide.” Timber prices are also being influenced by the increasing cost of energy, freight and labour. While sawmills have attempted to absorb some costs in the past 12 months, this has led to some price increases. “Some of the Tasmanian hardwoods have recently gone up eight per cent which is all part of the price increases everywhere. In saying this, there is still plenty of innovation within the Tasmanian market. A couple of mills are now cutting a plantation eucalypt with some of this is going into the traditional markets as well as hardwood pallets.” “As native logging of hardwood ceases some of the companies are taking exit packages from state governments and some are investing to process a plantation resource, or in the case of ASH, use their equipment to process imported timbers including American Oak. Then you have other companies which are importing the finished product,” said Mr Hurley. 2024 trends Architects continue to be primary drivers of trends within this space, with products such as spotted gum and brushed box now widely specified for timber cladding. “Another trend is DIYers using easy craft molded MDF panels, which have been popular on ‘The Block’. Sometimes they are doing entire walls of it and that seems to be a substantial trend in the market currently. Flooring sales, particularly within engineered flooring remains very strong and in many cases is still preferred over carpet or tiles,” Mr Hurley concluded. TIMBER, TIMBER FLOORING & DECKING 20 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | FEBRUARY '24

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