Desperate need for everyone to achieve the same goal
Nationally there are approximately 265 frame and truss plants spread through all Australian States and Territories. Most of these plants are small to medium employing up to 40 staff with the average probably being around 20 employees.
Currently the industry is going gang busters in most areas with the exception of a few and it is at these times that people have to wait for their orders. For example, in NSW fabricators are so busy the wait time could be 10-12 weeks whereas in Victoria the wait time is up to 6 weeks with some firms.
There are a few things that never cease to amaze me when our industry is going so well:
Builders start to think that instead of waiting for frames & trusses they might as well set up their own plant.
Fabricators still allow themselves to be bullied by builders.
With the first issue comes the problem of unnecessary huge investment costs and secondly other builders do not necessarily want to buy from their competition leaving new fabricators with a smaller market than they anticipated.
FTMA Australia would encourage ‘would be fabricators’ to instead look at the option of buying an established frame and truss business as there are a handful of fabricators, I’m sure in each state, that would be ready for retirement and would seriously look at the option of selling their plant.
Add to this the need for some fabricators to expand in to different areas who may also like to purchase an established business rather than start from scratch again.
I know in NSW there are a few fabricators wanting to get out and a few fabricators wanting to expand so why not help each other; why not look at buying in to the existing fabricators rather than start a new plant.
I was recently informed that in NSW some nail plate companies are fielding up to 5 calls per week from people interested in setting up their own plant. This is something FTMA doesn’t want to see as the current fabricators in NSW have survived by dragging their backsides through the GFC and poor markets with some even dipping in to their superannuation to survive. They survived the rationalisation and I would hate to think they won’t survive the next one as we have increased the number of plants in the state again.
I know this is the role of the nail plate companies, to build their own businesses, but we must look at our industry and ensure those in business are sustainable and continue to survive.
So, if you are a builder looking at entering the frame and truss industry, or if you are a fabricator looking to buy a plant, I encourage you to contact FTMA Australia on 0418 226 242 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the options available as we are there to network within our sector and help fabricators currently in business.
The other issue around bullying by builders is an issue that unfortunately, in my opinion, is getting worse. Bullying comes in all shapes and sizes and the one that annoys me the most is when fabricators can’t pass on timber increases in their prices. Why should anyone, no matter what business they are in, be expected to not pass on price increases.
We see it all the time with the health insurance or general insurance. When the insurer’s prices increase then they must pass it on to their customers, just like councils do with their rates.
Why then can a fabricator be hit with a timber price increase and a builder simply say no, they aren’t going to accept the price increase. The cost of timber ranges from 30%-60% of the total costs of jobs so how can you absorb the price increase?
In the future when the timber becomes harder to get, which it will, and the markets drop off and you’re not as busy, which it will, how are you going to cope?
I urge fabricators to talk to their accountants, to have a third party go through their costs and ensure they are covering their bases and are not working for nothing. You are in business to make a living not to be bullied by the supply chain in to losing money or working for nothing.
Executive Officer FTMA Australia