NEXT EDITION: FRAME AUSTRALIA
United States tours a precursor to iconic Australian niche conference
Just mention Frame Australia and the name that immediately springs to mind is Kevin Ezard, and it’s no wonder, he’s been associated with it for two decades. And his success with not only this major industry event but with almost all his pursuits seem to follow a simple philosophy .... don’t spend time, invest in it! It doesn’t seem all that long ago that the muchvaunted Building Components Manufacturing Conference (BCMC) in the USA was the only event for truss and frame fabricators to catch up with the latest equipment and technologies. Every year a contingent of 20 or more from Australia would head over for the three-day event, followed by an organised tour of truss plants in North America, and have a lot of fun at the same time. That was back in the 1990s. From that State-side special emerged one of Australia’s now iconic specialist conferences ... Frame Australia! So, let’s put Kevin in the Frame ---“To summarise my background, it has primarily revolved around a career based on wine and wood, and personal passions for boats and cars,” says Kevin. He attributes his interest in cars from his father Wal, who started as a coach builder with Kellow-Falkner handmaking bodies for Rolls Royce vehicles to customer specification. “He then ran a crash repairs business until retirement, when he turned to restoring vintage cars, often with just a chassis where a complete new body would be handmade to produce a virtually new car,” Kevin recalls. After completing Mechanical Engineering at Caulfield Institute of Technology Kevin’s first position was as a junior engineer at General Motors Holden in the vehicle design department, followed by an engineering role with a road machinery equipment manufacturer. “I then joined a Repco manufacturing subsidiary as product engineer for engine components, where we developed and tested engines for a wide range of vehicles including road and track racing cars, including the world champion Repco Brabham Formula One V8 engine.” An early interest for Kevin was membership of the Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia, which later developed into organising automotive engineering conferences in the Pacific region. This activity evolved into membership of FISITA, the peak world body for automotive engineering, which required travel to conferences and meetings in the 20 member countries. “I became Vice President of FISITA and organised the 1982 world congress in Melbourne, which drew many international leaders in the automotive industry from UK, Europe, Japan and North America. The speakers program was in multiple sessions, all with simultaneous translation in three languages – English, French and German.” His next move was to Unichrome, an international company specialising in energy recycling of various waste products such as scrap vehicle tyres and sewage sludge, but in Australia the main market opportunity was for heat energy systems that used waste wood and sawdust to generate heat and/or power. “This was my entry into the timber industry by installing furnace systems in timber processing operations around Australia, one of which was the Ezard sawmill at Swifts Creek with a waste disposal and energy recovery system to heat the new timber drying kilns. “I later joined the Ezard family timber business in their Alpine Ash building materials supplies operations in Gippsland, subsequently becoming involved with timber product marketing and sales from the Swifts Creek sawmill. “For the next decade my role was marketing of Ezard Timber products and we developed new markets for F17 structural KD hardwood around Australia. I do recall saying that a ballpoint pen was called a Biro, and that a piece of structural hardwood would eventually be called an Ezard. And so it came to be. “Apart from the marketing role, in the latter years I also managed Swifts Creek during a period of change to higher technology, and improvements in processing of kiln dried hardwood products. One of these developments was installation of a sliced veneer production facility based on the Japanese concept of a linear slicing machine, offering high recovery of veneer flitches. “Veneer production was initially focused on export, and sales were achieved in North America and Europe due to their preference for back sawn feature veneers, which suited us as it was the predominant cutting pattern at the green sawmill,” Another development was Ezijoin, a timber length joining system that we developed in conjunction with Pryda, which was a wraparound nailplate forming an extremely strong joint that maintained the structural performance of the timber section. for and were granted patents in Australia, NZ, USA, Europe and other countries, leading to a push into the North American market that was quite successful.” Other developments included the
introduction of the joined timber marketing program under the “Ironman” banner, which subsequently became the “Musclebeam” product range with licensees in all major states.
The wine industry
In 1979 a passion for wine drew him to a partnership in retail wine merchant Moorfield Vintners with a number of retail outlets and a substantial wine bottling plant, which led to a merger with wholesale distributor WJ Seabrook & Son, the oldest wine merchant in Victoria established in 1878. During the 80’s he cofounded The Exhibition of Victorian Winemakers, which during the next 10 years became a very successful event for the wine industry with up to 100 winemakers exhibiting at trade and retail events along the East coast of Australia and internationally.
The Ezard Marketing consultancy
In 1990 the consultancy Ezard Marketing commenced with a client base mainly in the timber and building materials sector, and for the next 25 years was involved with a wide spectrum of companies in prefabrication, timber and building materials, timber production, engineered wood products, manufacturing, distribution, and new technologies. Projects undertaken included preparation of strategic plans for market and business development, market research projects, corporate philosophy, brand and corporate image development, sales and channel distribution strategies, and a broad variety of technically based marketing, communication and promotional activities.
Frame Australia beginning
The origins of Frame Australia go back to the 1990s when the Building Components Manufacturing Conference (BCMC) in USA was the only event for truss and frame fabricators to catch up with the latest equipment and technologies. “Greg King and I attended a number of BCMC events and agreed the potential for running it in Australia was too strong to ignore, “We were initially intending to name it BCMC Australia, but the Americans got nervous about that so the first event was called Frame Australia, held in 1998 at Southbank in Melbourne. From there it continued for the next decade with an evolving sessions program primarily on manufacture of pre-fabricated timber framing for detached housing. “In 2010 Greg decided to leave and concentrate on his publishing business, and at that time I wanted to expand the conference to encompass the complete supply chain of prefabrication from the timber and wood products and prefab manufacturing, and to include design and construction of both residential and commercial buildings. “With the trend for detached housing being a static market I felt the real growth opportunities for timber products were in larger buildings for medium density multiresidential and commercial developments which were showing potential for a new market.
“Also at that time I was fortunate to have the opportunity of preparing a plan for Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) titled ‘Investment plan for wood as a sustainable building material’ which established a vision for timber in construction to increase market consumption of wood products.” The next year, a ‘Marketing Plan for specification of wood products by building specifiers’ was completed and set out the future for marketing into multi-residential and commercial construction. “And a decade later I am very pleased that plan is still being used as a guide.” Following on in 2012 was the ‘Investment plan for increased use of timber and wood construction systems in multi-residential and commercial buildings’ and in 2016 the ‘Market Development Plan’ as a follow-on. These plans created the groundwork for growth in timber and wood construction market development in mid-rise 3 to 5-storeys, and high rise up to 8-storeys which are now part of the National Construction Code. Suffice to say the use of timber framing and engineered wood products is now experiencing dramatic expansion in all states of Australia and globally.
The Frame event
During this period the Frame event has constantly altered its format as the timber industry and building markets were developing during a period of major re-alignment in both the timber supply chain and building construction methods. This continuing change also impacted the companies participating as sponsors, which have shifted over time with the changes in market opportunities. The sessions program has also been evolving with focus on new issues emerging due to major updates to building codes, new timber products such as CLT, and a host of changes that have created a much more dynamic industry now than it was a decade ago. “Our new event title ‘Timber Offsite Construction’ was introduced in 2016 and has succeeded in providing awareness of the topics content, which was a problem prior to then as people outside timber and prefabrication did not know what Frame Australia represented. “It has now created an impression on the design and construction markets which has assisted in attaining market recognition and steadily increased attendance from design and construction sectors to almost one third of all attendees. “Which brings us to present day and some 20 years down the track.
“This year’s conference program will reflect these strengthening market trends with renowned international and local expert speakers on the key themes of Building Design, Technology, Manufacturing and Construction, and will be held on Monday and Tuesday 18-19 June at Park Hyatt Melbourne. “Last year we introduced delegate tours which were extremely popular, and we will be expanding the number of tours available to broaden the scope of prefabricated construction and timber buildings. “What astonishes me is the number of timber buildings being designed, under construction, or nearing completion that are simply amazing and of a scale I have never seen before in this country. We are truly in a period of extraordinary development!! “So, with all this activity emerging the Frame Australia event has a bright future as the only national conference and exhibition for timber and engineered wood building systems in residential and commercial construction.”
“We subsequently applied Kevin said. from small sawn timber
Kevin Ezard, Conference Director, Frame Australia Pty Ltd.
In the “frame” over the years.