TIMBER UPDATE June 2024

by | Jul 2, 2024

Big River Group acquires Specialised Laminators (SLQ)

Big River Industries has announced its recent acquisition of Specialised Laminators (SLQ), a renowned panel products company based in Brisbane. The strategic move is expected to not only enhance Big River’s panel product offerings but also strengthen its presence in the industry.

John Lorente, CEO Big River Industries.
John Lorente, CEO Big River Industries.

The acquisition will allow customers to access an expanded range of premium panel solutions through Big River’s Timberwood Panels division nationally. 

Established in 1977, SLQ has a reputation for producing high-quality decorative and functional panel products, as well as innovative solutions throughout the building industry.

Bringing SLQ into the Big River family is a significant part of Big River’s mission to offer top-quality panel products to its customers, Big River Group Chief Executive Officer John Lorente said recently.

“This acquisition allows us to expand our specialised Panels Division, providing customers with a broader selection of innovative and high-performance panel solutions. The synergies between SLQ and Big River create exciting opportunities for growth and product development,” Mr Lorente said.

SLQ founder John Closter. along with General Manager Wayne Austin will continue to lead the business under the Big River umbrella, ensuring continuity while leveraging their expertise to drive future success. 

Mr Closter says joining the Big River Group is an exciting new chapter for SLQ.

“We are confident that our combined expertise and resources promise enhanced product availability, improved supply chain efficiencies and innovative panel solutions tailored to meet diverse construction needs,” he said.

Mr Austin said he was thrillled to become part of Big River, a company that shares a commitment to quality and customers can look now forward to an expanded product range and enhanced service capabilities.

Big River has manufactured and distributed timber and steel formwork products, timber flooring, building products, structural plywood and related timber products for over 120 years. It also distributes a broad range of building products, including MaxiWall and MaxiFloor, primarily to the commercial, residential and infrastructure construction market segments.


Timber Innovation Grants opens third round

Local businesses and workers in timber industry communities are expected to receive additional financial support after the Allan Labor Government announced applications for Round Three of the Victorian Timber Innovation Fund (VTIF) have opened.

Eligible native timber businesses can now access up to $1 million in grant funding per business to diversify away from native timber harvesting and create new jobs in their communities. 

For the first time Round Three support will include a Grant Application Assistance Service. Businesses can apply for vouchers of up to $7,500 which will provide them with access to a panel of Registered Service Providers. The providers will help businesses prepare and submit strong submissions for the grants program.

Eligibility has also been extended to harvest and haulage sub-contractors, chip truck drivers and other businesses that were heavily dependent on the native timber industry. Businesses who take up other forestry transition support packages can still access the VTIF.

Agriculture Minister, Ros Spence, said that the variety of projects which businesses are putting forward shows their innovative approach to moving away from a sole reliance on the native timber industry and diversifying into new and exciting opportunities.

“We are providing crucial support to empower businesses and workers to take advantage of new opportunities within their communities as they transition away from the native timber industry into a new sustainable future,” Minister Spence said.

Round Two of the Timber Innovation Fund is set to support 29 successful applications from 28 native timber businesses totaling over $7 million.

Gippsland Logging and Earth Moving received $330,000 of VTIF funding to transition from native hardwood haulage to plantation haulage and retain their current workers. They have also modified their existing heavy equipment, including installing a new crane system to their prime mover.

Pyrenees Timber, based in Beaufort, is using its $86,000 of VTIF funding to modify the existing storage shed, upgrade the loading pad and purchase a purpose-built auger enabling the company to store olive pits that will be used by the Beaufort & Skipton Health Service to fuel its biomass heating system.

VTIF will continue to support businesses to pursue opportunities in other industries that will support timber communities. This can include businesses switching their operations to plantation timber, construction and earthmoving services to both maintain existing jobs and create new and sustainable jobs.


T3 Collingwood boasts a mass of timber architecture

T3 Collingwood has raised the bar for commercial infrastructure in Australia, elevating the skyline on the fringe of Melbourne.

Awarded the Green Building Council of Australia’s 6-star Green Energy Rating, the impressive building is also winner of the 2024 Best Tall Building by height under 100 metres and by region by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Completed in 2023, builder ICON and architect Jackson Clements Burrow chose leading mass timber manufacturer ASH to supply the project’s glulam elements. When undertaking the project, ASH produced an impressive 738 glue laminated timber columns and beams, totalling 874 cubic metres of mass timber, designed and prefabricated in its world-class facility in regional Victoria.

Developed by global real estate specialists, Hines, T3 Collingwood is the first Australian project in their T3 global portfolio. Engineered timber was specified on the project due to its lower embodied carbon and improved sustainability. Timber is also the only renewable construction material which Hines recognise in its innovative T3 methodology – timber, transit and technology.

T3 Collingwood is the first project to be financed through the CEFC Timber Building Program, which drives mass timber construction across the property sector and aims to cut embodied carbon emissions and contribute to Australia’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The use of timber for the superstructure decreased the required concrete footings and core structure in volume by 15 per cent. Early design work for the project calculated a 34 per cent reduction in embodied carbon from structural components.

Australian Oak was utilised in T3 Collingwood’s MASSLAM glulam. One hundred percent of MASSLAM GLT is PEFC certified, meaning ASH’s timber is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Furthermore, the timber stores more than 360,000kg/CO2e even after embodied energy is considered.

T3 Collingwood also benefited from enhanced speed of construction thanks to the MASSLAM bearing connection. The typical primary beam-to-column connection utilised bearing as opposed to proprietary steel bracketry. Just three minutes on average was all it took to install each beam which is reportedly the quickest installation of glue-laminated timber beams ever completed by the specialist installer.

The nine levels of timber were erected in just 60 days which also demonstrates the significant and sometimes unquantifiable cost benefits associated with mass timber construction. Using local timber also resulted in reduced manufacturing and transport times, reduced transport costs, reduced transport emissions, enhanced on-site support and improved installation sequencing.

Including timber in the project provides unmatched wellness and productivity benefits compared to traditional construction materials. Exposed timber within a workspace has huge biophilic benefits, increasing occupants’ connection to the natural environment which in turns boosts well-being, reduces stress and increases creativity and productivity.

The striking tower now claims the title of Australia’s tallest mass timber office building, and exemplifies using the right material for the right job, while preferencing sustainable solutions wherever possible.