AUSTRALIAN HARDWARE JOURNAL

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DEPARTMENTS Newsmakers Features 6 Viewpoint 8 Paint Focus 12 Behind the Counter 14 US News 16 NZ News 18 Timber Update 47 News 49 Product Focus 52 What’s New 22 Australian Made Aussie-made products boom despite rise in cost-of-living. The Australian Made Campaign continues to grow substantially off the back of unprecedented growth during and post-COVID. This strong support has continued with consumers making it a priority to support locally-made products. 14 Lowe’s and Hornets announce extended partnership. 16 M itre 10 duo take a big leap to raise funds for young tamariki. 47 T hree generations of painting homes in Canberra. About the Cover Known for the supply of hand tools, diamond tools and tool storage, OX Tools is bringing a US based brand BORA Tool to the Australian market. The acquisition of BORA Tool is motivated by a desire to harness the unique strengths of both companies to offer exceptional products to retailers and end-users. INNOVATIVE SIMPLIFY tools that PRODUCTIVITY tasks and increase on the jobsite. SET-UP IN1.6 INSTANT SECONDS www.hardwarejournal.com.au Vol.139 No.1 Jan 2024 Print Post Approved PP100007331 SINCE 1886 49 8 22 47 4 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '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 Happy New Year! 2024 has finally arrived. For some, this month may be a time to reflect on the positives of 2023, and start to build on new goals. For others, it will be about starting the year fresh and spending time throughout January reflecting on what you may have not achieved last year. Take the time now to write down three ‘non-negotiable’ goals for the year ahead. Place a note somewhere you can read every day. Make a plan and prioritise these goals – after all, you have 12 months to achieve it! So what does 2024 mean for your business and what can we expect over the next 12 months? While there are predictions that the Australian economy is set to grow just 1.4 per cent this year, in response to tighter macroeconomic policies and financial conditions, for the most part, the economy has remained resilient throughout last year’s challenges. There is also hope that Australia will once again avoid a recession due to low unemployment rates, population growth and housing prices picking up after a correction in 2022. The predictions are all in line with what well-known businessman and retailer Bernie Brooks spoke about at HBT’s national conference last year. Bernie said that while 2024 may present challenges, the testing conditions will be short-lived before we return to a period of growth in 2025. “There are several aspects driving the retail sector currently, including population growth, volume per capita and price growth. In a normal environment retail growth comes from a mixture of all three factors, but today the driver is primarily price growth,” Mr Brooks said at the conference. “One of the downsides to price growth is the adverse reaction to consumer spending. So a consumer with an average $800,000 mortgage is now paying $780 per month in interest rates than what they were paying 14 months ago. They actually have to earn $1500 more per month to cater for that. This money then comes out of spending on furniture, handbags, etc. and these are the retailers that are struggling at the moment.” “So how long will this cycle last? The good news is it will be reasonably short, so only 12 months but it will not peak until early next year.” The HIA has also remained positive for the year ahead, reporting that new apartment commencements and other attached dwellings, which make up the remaining piece of Australia’s home-building puzzle, are likely to pick up from the FY2023 low of 62,290 to 76,160 in FY2024, with funding sourced primarily from institutional and public funds. The HIA also pointed out that a healthy new-detached house sector, which relies on individual buyers, is crucial to meeting the country’s 1.2 million new home target over the next five years to 2029. A stabilisation in borrowing costs this year could also make buyers more confident to commit to home purchases again, even if the homes they purchase are smaller or less expensive. AHJ Survey The AHJ team recently asked you – the reader – what you would prefer to read more of within the publication. The survey revealed that an overwhelming 64 per cent prefer to read AHJ in hard copy, which is what the team and I have always suspected. Preferred feature articles included AHJ’s Australian Made feature, with 60 per cent of those surveyed indicating this as their most preferred feature. This edition celebrates everything Australian Made. See page 22 to read all of the latest exciting news from the Australian Made Campaign’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Lazzaro. Christine Bannister - Editor

Conclusion: The survey results affirm that the printed publication remains the preferred method of information consumption within the industry for a majority of respondents (63.9%). Independents value Australian-made content, with 46.5% expressing a preference for this theme, emphasising a customer-centric approach. Advertisements in the Australian Hardware Journal significantly influence buying decisions, with 86.7% considering the influence to be either significant or moderate. The diverse content preferences and platform choices among respondents underscore the need for a multi-faceted approach to cater to the varied preferences within the industry. Hardware Journal Survey Results

Paint Place Cowra prioritises locally made products At the age of just 26 and 24, Adam and Leteisha Howell established Paint Place Cowra, in the New South Wales rural town just over 300 kilometres west of Sydney. Business: Paint Place Cowra Owners: Adam and Leteisha Howell Location: Cowra, New South Wales Buying Group: Paint Place Group of Stores Now the duo is about to reach 10 years of business success and have much to celebrate after taking the chance to open their own paint store nearly a decade ago. Adam had already worked with the Paint Place Group for six years, but when the store he worked in suddenly closed, the two decided to take a leap of faith and open their own business. “We had just bought our first house, and even though I was working in insurance at the time, we knew we had to do something quickly because we had only just acquired a mortgage,” Leteisha said. “We knew that together with Adam’s knowledge and experience in the paint industry, along with my qualifications and experience in business, we had a great chance at starting a store that would really work for us. We also knew there was a market for a paint shop in town so it really was meant to be,” she said. Within just one month of Adam’s former employer closing down, the two had opened a 90-squared metre store that offered just one brand of paint initially. With the help of the Paint Place group, Adam and Leteisha sourced the right suppliers for their store and the business grew from there. “When we first started, we concentrated primarily on architectural, automotive and industrial paint. We focused on the retail side of the business as well as servicing the trade painters that we had, while also building up new brands. We started with Wattyl back in the day The original store was just 90 square metres with just one paint brand. 8 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '24

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) and just built on that customer base,” Leteisha said. By 2018 the business had outgrown the original site, so the two moved to a significantly larger building of 320 square metres also in town. Upon moving stores, Leteisha said they had more room to evolve in blind and awning installations, which was a small concept they had worked on at the former store. “When Adam originally started to work for Paint Place, he worked primarily in servicing window products. It seemed a natural progression for us to move into, especially because the market was there as well. It has definitely paid off because it is very popular and we now offer a wide variety of window furnishings to our customers,” she said. Multi-branding is so important to an independent business, according to Adam, “otherwise you just cannot survive.” “Our blind department brings customers in who are not only looking for blinds, but are looking to re-paint as well or vice-versa. “It is such a natural pairing as well. Whether you are renovating or building a new house, paint and blinds go hand-in-hand and it just makes it easier for everyone having it in the one place as a one-stop shop. We quote their windows, custom order the blinds in and go and fit them for them and they do not have to do anything,” he said. Australian Made products As strong supporters of Australian Made products, Leteisha says she has seen quite a shift from consumers who now purposefully look for local made products. “Taubmans is just one of the many brands we have in-store that are manufactured in Australia, but that goes for a lot of the products we now have, with only a small percentage being imported.” “Luxury Paints is another Australian owned and made brand we offer along with the Paint Place Group’s own Black Label brand. This is also Australian owned and made specifically for Paint Place stores.” Adam says the Luxury Paint brand has changed the game for most stores in the group because it offers a quality product at a reasonable price point. “Luxury Paint is huge in the locally made space and has changed the game for most Paint Place stores. The brand also offers premium products as well. It is a small, family-owned business with a lot less overheads so the costs are reduced substantially,” Adam said. Outstanding attributes Not only do Adam and Leteisha pride themselves on developing a one-stop shop of locally manufactured products, but the two also prioritise their customer service. All staff are highly trained under the watchful eye of Adam, who has passed on his years of experience to his team. “Our staff know which products work for different projects and we are PAINT FOCUS Paint Place Cowra is a strong supporter of Australian Made products. JANUARY '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 9

constantly onto new innovations as well. Having a one-stop shop is important because our customers know we will give them the right advice, the right product and they know the paint will be mixed well,” Adam said. “They also like that when they visit our store they deal with the same friendly people every time. We are just like family and we have customers who come in for a coffee and chat. I was lucky enough to be trained by really good people and now I am passing on the same knowledge down to my staff, which is hard to come by without years of experience,” he said. Two delivery vans now service customers outside of the store, including trades and residential customers to remote locations. “It is so important that you do not wait for your customers to come to you. When I worked for the original paint store, the owners were very old school in that they did not really chase business, they just waited for customers to walk through the door.” “This is why we make sure we service our trades properly in that we go to them, we deliver on-site, we are lot serviceable for them. Although we were quite trade orientated when we first established the business because Wattyl was based around the trade market, we have expanded into many other brands including PPG, Taubmans, Luxury Paints as well as Concept and Haymes, so we have everything that our customer’s need,” Leteisha said. Local demographics Today Paint Place Cowra competes primarily with Bunnings after their competing paint independent closed down. “We have had a massive influx of customers after the other paint store in town closed down because I think they made the mistake of offering just one brand. Our business is also growing off the back of building and renovation activity in Cowra, as well as local farms needing to be serviced as well,” Leteisha says. “I feel like when people are watching their spending due to COVID or the rising cost-of-living, it pushes people to undertake more DIY and they look for things to do themselves. We have also had a lot of people from Sydney and Canberra move to Cowra to enjoy the country life and renovate their homes.” “There is a lot going on in the local industry so we do a lot of industrial coatings for those commercial aspects. We also service a lot of agricultural farms as well that come in and get the industrial coatings for their farm,” she said. Paint Place Group of Stores Support from the Paint Place Group was crucial in the early days, with the Paint Place team as well as fellow stores assisting the couple in getting their business off the ground. “Even though we are part of the group and we have the backing of the buying group, we also have access to a wealth of knowledge through other members in the Paint Place Group. To have that really vast knowledge base behind us as well as the Paint Place team is so important.” “We have our ten-year anniversary this year and pretty much everyone who has helped us along the way is busting to come and celebrate with us. All of the people we have formed friendships with over the years, including reps and management, are keen to come out and celebrate with us which is really nice,” Leteisha concluded. L-R: Team members Clinton and Drew along with store owners Leteisha and Adam. 10 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '24

Ox Group acquires BORA Tool Known for the supply of hand tools, diamond tools and tool storage OX Tools is bringing US based brand, BORA Tool to the Australian market. The acquisition of BORA Tool is motivated by a desire to harness the unique strengths of both companies to offer exceptional products to retailers and end-users. BORA Tool, a dynamic force in the realm of professional-grade tools is a leading provider of innovative and highperformance equipment for professionals and enthusiasts. Established with a commitment to improve the productivity of craftsmen and tradesmen, BORA Tool has been catering to the diverse needs of its customers and established a reputation for excellence in the tool and equipment industry. The brand’s values revolve around the core principles of innovation, quality craftsmanship, and a dedication to providing tools that empower users to achieve unparalleled precision and efficiency in their work while enabling them to expand their capabilities. The BORA Tool range is built up on an extensive product range that caters to a variety of industries, including framing, carpentry, woodworking and metalworking. From innovative sawhorses and work stands to revolutionary cutting guides and workshop accessories, the brands diverse portfolio is a testament to its dedication to meeting the evolving needs of professionals across different trades. BORA Tool offers a wide range of sawhorses encompassing the needs of any job. The award winning Speedhorse™ is BORA Tool’s bestselling product. The Speedhorse ™ is the only sawhorse on the market that features an instant leg release that allows users to set it up in 1.6 seconds – 30 times faster than conventional sawhorses. Built tough, this steel sawhorse will withstand heavy projects with a weight capacity of 1360 kilogram per sawhorse pair. The most innovative of all BORA Tool’s products, the Centipede Work Stand, never ceases to impress. The Centipede Stand sets up instantly and conveniently folds up to a fraction of its size for easy storage and transportation from the job site. Flexible yet tough, this work stand is the most versatile solution for the job site, available in a variety of different sizes. The 2400 millimetre by 1200 millimetre work stand features a jaw-dropping weight capacity of up to 2721 kilograms. A wide range of table tops and accessories designed to complement the Centipede series ensures users have the ability to build the ultimate portable workstation. The all-new BORA® NGX Cutting Guide System features revolutionary tool-free clamping and connection technology to guarantee accurate cuts when on the jobsite. Designed for ultimate precision, the system features Clamp Edge™ cutting guides and circular saw guide cradles to save users time and money that would be otherwise invested in tack saw systems. The NGX System is the ultimate solution to cut straight lines, rip down sheets, eliminate waste, and produce more professional results. The BORA Portacube is the ultimate work bench and storage solution for your drop saw. The unique rotational tabletop allows users to securely store the drop saw, while a compact footprint, large 254 millimetre wheels and extendable wings provide users with a two metre work space. The BORA Portacube is the ultimate solution for professional carpenters and woodworkers. Saving carpenters time and money the BORA MiteriX allows users to quickly translate as-built measurements to their drop saw, enhancing productivity on the jobsite when cutting wainscoting, skirting and architrave. The tool is designed to make miter cuts quick and easy by simply locking and transferring any angle to a saw providing you accurate cuts every time. To find out more contact the OX team to stock up with BORA today by phoning: (02) 8845 6600. BORA Tool Speedhorse™ The award-winning BORA Tool Speedhorse™ is the only sawhorse on the market that features instant lever release technology allowing it to set up in 1.6 seconds. This steel sawhorse is built tough with an impressive weight capacity of up to 1360 kilograms per pair. The Speedhorse XT features individually extendable legs to increase the working height up to 36 inches.

As a small business grows and evolves, so too should their business websites. Whether it is a small or big change within the business, these changes and future plans for the business need to be reflected on the website for customers to see online. “In an ideal world, I would recommend a little check up every quarter as a good idea. In my real world as a small business owner I have multiple websites, and many other things to do. I tend to look at it now, as I work through my end-of-year analysis and begin to make a massive list of priority marketing action points,” Rachel told Stuff Limited. “I see our websites as our virtual storefront. It has to be functional, include the information your visitors need, be a reflection of your values, messaging and feel, and be up-to-date.” If you want to go into 2024 with a website that works better for you and your business, the following are some of the vital areas Rachel recommends refreshing: Benchmarks to check performance Running benchmarks on your website are vital for insights into how it performs, and will allow you to make decisions that will ensure a competitive edge. It will paint a clearer picture of where your business stands compared to the competition and which areas can be improved or need immediate attention. “If it is the first time you have done this, put them somewhere to refer back to again in six months, and again in a year. I look at website visitors, where they are coming from (this can also help us see what parts of our digital marketing are working well), how many people are using the contact forms or making purchases, how engaged people are with the content (this used to be called the bounce rate), and what people are clicking on,” Rachel says. “Most of this information can be found in your G4 analytics and Google Search Console. You cannot mess anything up in either of these tools, so just relax and click all the buttons and go exploring if you have no idea how to find anything in there at first.” Read your website content with fresh eyes Approach your website as though you are a customer looking at it for the first time. A fresh perspective will allow you to see whether or not the website is easy to navigate, as well as what information stands out most. From here it is easier to see whether your business website grabs consumers’ attention with the information you want leading their experience. “I like to close my eyes and physically say, ‘I am looking at this with fresh eyes’. Before I start checking out the website, I write down what I want to see on it, including some of the messaging I am using at the moment, what my core offers are, and how I see our brand feel and voice to be,” Rachel says. “Then I check this against the content on our website and see if it is a match (it has often changed). From here I make a list of updates required.” Rachel also said that she makes a list of anything that is distracting from taking action on the page, and checks her calls to action are clear and obvious. “I will often use this opportunity to also check if my lead magnets are still converting, and make a note to update them or change them completely if I am not getting results from them.” Is the SEO still relevant? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital digital marketing tool made up of multiple elements. In short, it is crucial in making your website more visible, which means more traffic and more opportunities to convert potential consumers into regular customers. “If you have made changes to your offer or focus this year, or where you operate, then you may also need to update your Search Engine Optimisation on your website. This can include updating your meta description (the summary Google shows about your website when you come up in search), and checking the keywords you are focussing on the website relate to what you do,” Rachel says. “If you have a blog, this is also a good time to create a blogging strategy for BEHIND THE COUNTER When was the last time you checked your business website? Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing. In this month’s Behind the Counter, Rachel gives her tips on how to refresh and update your tired website. Start the New Year with a refreshed business website

the year to focus on the keywords you have identified as core to your offer.” Rachel says there is a lot of technical SEO on your website that you might need to update. However, using an online SEO tool to help analyse some of the gaps will help work through these actions. Test all forms, calls to action, and links Things break or get disconnected and it is vital that we are aware when this happens, Rachel says. “Sometimes we link to a page that is inadvertently changed without knowing it will break a link. An online SEO analysis tool can help you find where the broken links are.” “It is a good idea to also test all of the forms on the page. You will need to do it with an email not directly linked to your business to get the best results,” she says. List any images that need updating Outdated images can age a website, especially if there have been any aesthetic changes to the store. “If you have had team changes, these need to be updated. The same goes for any branding updates and the overall feel of the website. If your website has used stock images, check these, as sometimes they have become ones that are overused on many sites, and make your website look generic,” Rachel says. Ask someone else to test it Ask someone else to navigate through the website with you alongside them, and locate certain bits of information that will help improve the website further. Rachel says it is important not to be dissappointed if they struggle to find what they are looking for. “We cannot sit next to all of our website visitors, so we need the website to be simple and intuitive to use. Take notes and make alterations to the layout as needed,” she says. Make sure the technical side is up-to-date If you have a good hosting and support service they will often do this part for you, Rachel says. It is important to make sure the back end is all functioning as it is. “If you do not have that, then you need to set aside a regular time to update, check and make sure everything is working smoothly. It is also a good idea to note when your domain name may need to be renewed so you are prepared for this also.” Some of the observations and analysis taken from refreshing your website may lead to bigger projects. It might be that you need a complete rebuild, and that might not be something you can do right away. You may also need to arrange brand photos or get some help with copywriting or advertisements. “Making a list now can help you prioritise the tasks, and then plan out how it will be actioned during the year. We booked in a complete brand redesign for one of our websites in the New Year, and then a rebuild of another to help with some technical issues later in the year. These are big projects that have to be balanced with other activities in the business,” Rachel says. “However, we have also now got a list of actions we can take action on over the next six weeks, that either give us a long-term fix or add a little ‘band-aid’ on our website to tide us over until we make a bigger change.” Putting aside time to do a little website warrant of fitness makes sense, particularly in this digital retail age. Rachel reminds us that our websites work hard for us, and if we look after them right, and keep them in good working order, we are making that an easier job for them as well as ourselves in future. “After all, there is nothing like the magic of another lead or sale coming from your storefront online,” Rachel concluded. JANUARY '24 | HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU 13

US NEWS Lowe’s and Hornets announce extended partnership Lowe's Companies, Inc. and the Charlotte Hornets have recently announced they are extending their longterm partnership. As part of this partnership, Lowe's will continue to be a Founding Level Partner and the official home improvement retailer of the Hornets team. The companies will work together to prioritize community engagement, which has always been an essential part of their partnership. They will continue to implement the annual Hornets Legacy Project Powered by Lowe's, which aims to enhance and improve neighborhoods across Charlotte. Additionally, Lowe's welcomes Hornets legend and North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer Tyrone Curtis ‘Muggsy’ Bogues to the Lowe's Home Team, a move that expands the Lowe's Home Team's roster of athletes to include professional basketball. The Lowe's Home Team is comprised of talented past and present athletes who team up with Lowe's red vest associates and inspire people to tackle home projects with top product picks and helpful expertise and to better their communities by leading by example. "Lowe's is a very proud partner of the Charlotte Hornets, and we are thrilled to welcome the legendary Muggsy Bogues to our Lowe's Home Team roster," said Lowes Senior Vice President of Enterprise Brand and Marketing, Jen Wilson. "Muggsy's addition to the Lowe's Home Team is one way we are expanding into new sports which further connects Lowe's to a live fanbase that is unique to sporting events. We are happy to build on what we have accomplished together with the Hornets and to further invest in our hometown Charlotte communities through our work with Muggsy." Lowe's will have an ongoing significant brand presence within Spectrum Center and the ‘Lowe's Drilling Threes’ campaign that will be utilized both in the arena and via Hornets social and broadcast channels to celebrate every three-point shot made by the Hornets. Lowe's will also continue to serve as the presenting partner of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation's annual Hornets Heroes Gala and is the presenting partner of the ‘Hive at 35’ exhibit at the Charlotte Museum of History in celebration of the Hornets' 35th anniversary. "We are pleased to extend our partnership with Lowe's and to continue the great work we have done together in the community," said Hornets Sports and Entertainment President and Vice Chairman, Fred Whitfield. "As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of our inaugural season, it is particularly exciting to have longtime teammates like Lowe's continue to support our franchise, especially those that also match our enthusiasm and dedication when it comes to giving back to the community." Through his work with the Lowe's Home Team, Muggsy teamed up with Lowe's and its red vest associates in December for a project with Habitat for Humanity at The Meadows at Plato Price, a housing development in Charlotte. The trim work done by Muggsy and Lowe's will push the Habitat for Humanity project closer to completion within the 39-home development, which offers opportunities for affordable homeownership in West Charlotte, an area where the homeownership rate is less than half of the average in Charlotte. "Charlotte is where I call home and it is a place that is special to me for many reasons," said Muggsy Bogues, former Point Guard for the Hornets, North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer and Lowe's Home Team Member. "I am passionate about supporting my community and neighbors – and what better way to make a local impact outside of my nonprofit than by teaming up with Lowe's, who shares the same vision. It is an honor to join the Lowe's Home Team and work alongside this elite group of players to serve our communities across the US." As part of the partnership, Lowe's will continue to be the presenting partner of the Hornets Legacy Project, an annual renovation project that aims to improve the quality of neighborhoods across Charlotte. The Home Depot and HandsOn rejuvenates outdoor space for US veteran The Home Depot Foundation and HandsOn Greater Phoenix recently teamed up as part of the 2023 Operation Surprise campaign to help a veteran, Zakary, reclaim his outdoor space. The ultimate goal was to provide a calming, tranquil space to help manage his PTSD symptoms and offer some financial relief. Zakary Ferroni served in the US Army 14 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '24

Lowe's ‘Into the Blue’ event attracts entrepreneurs nationwide With its third ‘Into the Blue’ event, the company has perfected the mechanics of hosting a massive start-up get-together. The event is being referred to as a home-improvement product version of Shark Tank. At the event, vendor hopefuls lined up to pitch their products to a team of merchants who awarded them an online, blue, or gold ticket. From there, it was on to the Vice Presidents of various merchandising departments where it was decided if the product was destined for platinum status. The mission was to introduce new and exciting product lines to Lowe's, as innovation is the lifeblood of the broader business. Seven winners of the platinum award, including Hans Dose, one of the founders of Tenikle, a phone and camera mount company, received purchase orders from Lowe's. “We came here not knowing what to expect. The event was incredible, the facility is amazing, and we just walked out of here with the biggest PO (Purchase Order) we have ever received. We could not be more thrilled, and we are excited for the road ahead, and the expansion of our relationship together,” Mr Dose said. He said the win was surreal, mainly because just a few years ago he was living in an RV with his wife, and now Lowe's, one of the largest home-improvement retailers in the nation, will stock his product on the shelves. Edo Cohen traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Los Angeles, California to also pitch his company's sustainable solution for charcoal to Lowe's. He presented Blazing Coco charcoal logs, which are made from discarded coconut shells – a previously wasted resource. The abundance of coconut products like oil, water, and milk on the market has led to an increase in coconut shells. Edo claims that his charcoal logs burn longer and cleaner than any other product currently available on the market. He also says no major retailers have been selling the sustainable grilling materials in-store, which has now changed as Edo won himself a ‘platinum’ purchase order from Lowe's at the signature entrepreneurial event. “Every step has been completely unexpected, and it creates excitement for the person on my side. It is so different to talk about your product in this kind of environment because you get to tell your story and be a bit vulnerable. The folks here listening to people in a short time get to know quite a bit about the person pitching them,” Mr Cohen said. from 2003 to 2012. Today, he grapples with the lasting effects of his service in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). This makes it difficult for him to work, with his husband, Joe, currently supporting the household. More than 100 volunteers from Home Depot’s associate volunteer force, Team Depot, helped revamp landscaping, upgrade irrigation, paint the home exterior, and add outdoor furniture. The team also rebuilt the firepit, replaced broken fencing, and made garage upgrades. Zakary and Joe were also surprised with a washer and dryer set and their December mortgage payment taken care of. The Home Depot Foundation’s annual Operation Surprise initiative was created to provide life-changing moments of surprise through service to the nation’s veterans. Giving back to veterans is a personal commitment to The Home Depot as more than 35,000 of the company’s associates are veterans or military spouses. Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has invested over $500 million in veteran causes and helped to renovate and enhance more than 60,000 veteran homes and facilities. This ensures more of the US nation’s heroes have a safe, comfortable home that fits their individual needs. For more information visit: www.homedepot.com Edo pitched his product at Lowe’s 'Into the Blue' event.

NZ NEWS Mitre 10 duo take a big leap to raise funds for young tamariki Blackbird Projects – a multi-discipline business Tino kino te pai (well done) to Brad Ward Able and Mark Vaughan from the Mitre 10 Support Centre who bravely leapt off Auckland's Sky Tower recently. The two participated in the annual ‘Drop Your Boss’ event, which raises funds for Mitre 10 New Zealand’s partners – the Graeme Dingle Foundation. Not only did Brad and Mark exceed their fundraising targets of $1,000, but along with other ‘Droppers’ on the day, raised over $80,000 for young tamariki (children) and building brighter futures. The jump resulted in a vastly different afternoon for the pair, who typically have risk-avoidance and analytical roles at Mitre 10. Brad is the Head of Digital Security and Risk at the Mitre 10 support centre, while Mark is the Head of Customer Insights. The Graeme Dingle Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of New Zealand’s youth, running transformative programmes that build confidence, nurture resilience, and develop core life skills to set them on a path to success. According to research, for every dollar invested in the Foundation, $7.80 is returned to the New Zealand economy through various means. These include a reduction in the costs of crime, an increase in the likelihood of young people finding better-paying employment and a decrease in the number of young people dependent on benefits. Mitre 10 New Zealand said it was grateful to both Brad and Mark for going above and beyond – literally. “They did a great job creating awareness of the event and raising funds. A big thank you also to those who donated,” a Mitre 10 spokesperson said. Based in Auckland, Ollie Mules founded Blackbird Projects as a one-stop shop for construction, landscaping, and painting services. The multi-disciplinary business handles all aspects of a client's project from design to completion in-house. “It is a unique selling point for us and I have always thought there was an opportunity in the market for a company like ours,” explains Ollie. “I enjoy the visual side of landscaping and have worked in construction, so the two seemed like a natural fit for me.” “I had worked on building projects during my last two years at school, so when I returned from [working] overseas, it felt natural for me to jump back into it,” says Ollie. “Then I got into the renovations game and played to my creative strengths by including landscaping. I think you can get huge value for money from a good landscaping job. Sometimes all we did on a house was improve the landscaping and give it a lick of paint and we would be able to turn a good profit.” After honing his skills in building, landscaping, and painting, Ollie combined all three to create a multi-disciplinary business called Blackbird Projects. The company now has 38 employees, including 14 landscapers and four painters. Blackbird Projects has also received recognition for its top-quality building ability through various awards, including a Registered Master Builders Gold Award. “Our mission is to make life as easy as possible for our client. By having three skills under one umbrella, we can do that. Our project managers handle all aspects of a job, so we control everything.” “It means we can collaborate closely on each stage of work. For example, we can start painting a finished section of a house before overall construction is complete.” Unlike other industry operators, Ollie says he has not found it too hard to recruit or retain staff due to the culture he has fostered within his business. “I work hard to put the culture of the company ahead of everything else, 16 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '24

BCITO bridges gap in apprenticeship support The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) Te Pūkenga has recently introduced new schemes to help support apprentices and employers. The Critical Skills Apprenticeship Programme and Building Belonging initiative are two ways in which apprentices and employers can access support and help from BCITO as they progress through an apprenticeship. The Critical Skills Apprenticeship Programme is a joint effort between BCITO and Education Unlimited, which aims to support 15 apprentices from the Te Tai Tokerau region north and south of Whāngarei and the Bay of Islands including Kerikeri, Opua and Russell. The area's geographic challenges make it hard for BCITO Training Advisors to visit trainees and provide the necessary support. The Critical Skills Apprenticeship Programme fills this gap. “We designed five workshops spread across five months, which focused on a range of different things,” said Tina Rose, Director at Education Unlimited. “For example, workshops include the basics of the BCITO training portal, how to navigate it, and supporting the apprentices to get into good habits with taking/uploading photos onsite. There was also a focus on financial literacy and numeracy, along with discussions around well-being, mindsets, the importance of mental health, and SMART goals.” Workshops make up the majority of the programme. However, apprentices can also access one-on-one sessions, and those who complete the programme earn a Site Safe Foundation Passport in Building Construction, a GoodYarn mental health awareness certificate, and gain a solid foundation in time management, problem-solving, and workplace communication. BCITO reported strong feedback from apprentices, with one reportedly saying it was the best day they had had in weeks, and another saying it was helpful to connect with learners in the same position as them. BCITO also launched its Building Belonging series of resources for trade employers with aims to create inclusive worksites and a construction and infrastructure sector that works better for everyone. The resources are available thanks to a joint initiative between Waihanga Ara Rau, the Workforce Development Council for Construction and Infrastructure, and BCITO Te Pūkenga. “We are pleased to offer Building Belonging in response to the upskilling and growth needs of our industry,” said Philip Aldridge, Chief Executive of Waihanga Ara Rau. “This suite of free resources for trade employers, created with our partner BCITO Te Pūkenga, includes a podcast series, videos, articles, and interactive training modules to help pave the way for more inclusiveness in the trades.” For more information visit: www.bcito.org.nz including profit. I want to work with people I enjoy being around and who I trust, and that flows through into a good work environment for everyone. As a result, our staff retention is good, as people feel like they are a part of something,” Ollie says. “To be honest, it has been scary having so many people involved in something I am so passionate about, which is why ensuring the company retains a culture I can be proud of is so important to me.” Maintaining excellent relationships and quality does not just depend on the team's skill. When Blackbird takes on a project, Ollie is confident that the material supply is covered, thanks to PlaceMakers. “The relationship between myself and our PlaceMakers Wairau Valley representatives, Fiona and David McConchie, is awesome – they know our business inside and out, including what we need to be able to run smoothly.” “Their business support is excellent and comes down to doing simple things right, such as making sure that we receive materials in a timely manner – whether that is great service at the branch or deliveries on site. As a result, they have been the one constant throughout the growth of the business,” Ollie says. One project that PlaceMakers went above and beyond on was Blackbird’s installation of 12 pools at The Pool House’s display centre. “We saw the opportunity for PlaceMakers to get involved and they supplied everything from decking to pool fencing, different displays of timber, and retaining and blockwork.” “You will never have the opportunity to put 12 pools into an area like that and landscape it all – and it would not have come together without the brilliant support of PlaceMakers,” Ollie said.

TIMBER UPDATE New industry survey highlights increase in female executives Only 4000 of 30 million promised trees planted Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) is pleased to share the Gender and Diversity Survey results for FY2023. For the fourth consecutive year, companies in the forest growing and timber processing sector have voluntarily completed a Gender and Diversity Survey. This is part of an ongoing industry-wide commitment to increase the participation of women across the workforce. The 2023 survey was completed by 23 companies. The key finding shows a positive trend in the increasing number of female employees in the industry and highlights an increase in female executive roles in both forest grower and timber processing sectors. Over the past two years, the proportion of female executives has increased from 20 per cent (27 roles) in 2021 to 29 per cent (42 roles) in 2023. “As a female executive in this historically male-dominated industry, it is great to see gender diversity improving, clearly recognising and realising the benefits of diverse thinking at a strategic level,” said Katie Fowden, General Manager at Hyne Timber and Board Member at FWPA. “The gender diversity at industry events has completely transformed in recent years and it is vital that the leaders in our industry, whether male or female, continue to support such opportunities. Appreciating that gender is only one aspect of diversity, as an industry, we need to be cognisant of the broader opportunities diversity can deliver,” Ms Fowden said. Erick Hansnata, Statistics and Economics Manager at FWPA added that the survey, which is vital to delivering accurate and up-to-date information is collected and reflects positive developments within the industry. “The ongoing FWPA member commitment to the diversity and inclusion survey plays a key role in providing key information for the industry, reflecting their positive efforts in the diversity and inclusion policy area,” Mr Hansnata said. For more information or to find out how your company can participate in the survey, contact Erick Hansnata, Statistics and Economics Manager Forest & Wood Products Australia Ltd, email: erick.hansnata@fwpa.com.au or phone M: 0411 060 186. The Victorian Government has planted just 0.01 per cent of the 30 million trees promised to assist timber workers – six years on from the announcement. Just 4,000 of the promised 30 million trees have been planted under the Victorian Government’s Gippsland Plantation Investment Program, which was first announced in 2017 to support timber workers' transition out of native forest harvesting, reported Timberbiz. Following repeated delays exacerbated by the constant turnover of agriculture ministers – five in seven years – the contract to plant the trees was only awarded to Hancock Victoria Plantations (HVP) last September. During the Parliamentary Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings in November last year, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) bureaucrats responded to questions from Nationals MP Danny O’Brien on HVP’s efforts, by stating just 4,000 trees had been planted to date. DEECA Acting Deputy Secretary, Forestry Transition Phoung Tram said, “HVP is continuing to work closely with traditional owners to address cultural heritage matters, so planting can be accelerated in 2024.” “HVP has responsibility for sourcing land to deliver on the GPIP agreement with the Victorian Government. Typically, timber grows well on land which has less productive farm value, and this is where the focus will be. Freehold land purchase, leasehold arrangements and

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Rob de Fegely resigns over Bendigo Bank’s forestry policy A leading Australian forestry expert has resigned from Bendigo Bank over its chosen policy to not support the harvesting of native forests. Rob de Fegely, who has held many senior roles in his 40-year forestry career, resigned from his local Community Bank's board due to parent company Bendigo Bank's policy against supporting native forest harvesting. A director of Margules Groome Consulting, Chair of Sustainable Timber Tasmania, and a non-executive Director of Forestry Corporation of New South Wales, Mr de Fegely emphasised these were his personal views and not those of any of the organisations he works for, Timberbiz reported. “Despite numerous exchanges with the Chief Executive, Marnie Baker, and the head of corporate affairs and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance reporting), they have not provided any justification for their policy, which is contrary to the United Nationals International Panel on Climate Change recommendations for managed forests,” he said. “I respect anyone’s right to have an opinion but if it affects others then it must be well researched and reasoned.” Mr de Fegely said he joined the local Community Bank in Pambula because he felt they had a great model for local banking and had supported the local community, “which I hope they will continue to do”. “However, the parent company is trashing their community brand as the forest industry has been operating on the far south coast of New South Wales since the early settlers arrived in the 1830s and thanks to the efforts of our early foresters, the bulk of our forests, especially on public land, still exist today,” he said. “What is poorly understood is that harvesting contractors provide the skills and equipment to fight bushfires and without them, more of our precious flora and fauna will be destroyed. We all know the Black Summer bushfire killed more wildlife and released more carbon into the atmosphere than any other event in our recent history.” “It astounds me that a bank whose origins are in rural and regional Victoria could take a policy position without consulting its community bank directors or even formally notifying them. In my opinion, it is unethical,” Mr de Fegely said. “Refusing loans to harvesting contractors while offering support to processors is simply hypocritical.” Mr de Fegely said he informed the Chief Executive Officer that fingerpointing or cancel culture was an inappropriate way to resolve the challenges of sustainably managing Australia’s natural forests. “Timber harvesting not only provides needed wood products but also funds much of the management of our multipleuse forests,” he said. “I do not know if the Bendigo Bank policy had any impact on the Victorian government’s decision to end harvesting in its natural forests, but I hope their board and senior management reflect this Christmas on the future for the estimated 2500 plus people who have lost their jobs because of the decision.” Mr de Fegely said the senior management team of Bendigo also seemed oblivious to the fact that Australia is the sixth most forested country in the world. “We have over 10 times the world average area of forest per person, yet we are not self-sufficient with a current import bill of $6 billion per year which could increase to $10 billion within a decade.” “Other countries could easily regard us as arrogantly selfish by being indifferent to the harm we cause forests in other countries and not skilfully utilising and protecting our own forest resources,” Mr de Fegely said. farm forestry arrangements are all eligible approaches to plantation development under the agreement.” “The usual due diligence of any site entering the program takes into consideration environmental, cultural heritage, safety, and legal aspects. HVP values opportunities to engage with First Nations Peoples through this process and adheres to all cultural heritage requirements,” Ms Tram said. In the meantime, most of Victoria’s native forest harvest and haulage crews have been made redundant and headed off to find work in other industries, with timber towns such as Orbost being the hardest hit. Opposition agriculture spokeswoman Emma Kealy said, “[the] lack of planting is alarming and a snub to the hardworking people of Gippsland.” “The Allan Labor Government cannot manage money, cannot manage major projects and cannot manage to support the native timber industry through its transition,” Ms Kealy said. An HVP spokeswoman also confirmed planting had only commenced the past winter and that it would take 10 years to complete the contract to establish 14,000 hectares of softwood forestry plantations. TIMBER UPDATE 20 HARDWAREJOURNAL.COM.AU | JANUARY '24

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