NEXT EDI­TION: FRAME AUS­TRALIA

United States tours a pre­cur­sor to iconic Aus­tralian niche con­fer­ence

Australasian Timber - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

In­dus­try plans

“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.

Mar­ket trends

“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.

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