When the Victorian Roof Truss & Wall Frame Association wanted to go National, Peter Wines and Phil Ladson travelled over the ditch to see how they did things in New Zealand as they had a strong National Association called FTMA NZ.

Lance Worthington of Wiri Timbers was the brains behind the creation of their national Association and he, along with others talked to Peter & Phil about the steps needed to take our Victorian Association national.

FTMA NZ this year celebrates 20 years and for the first time in 11 years, they held a National Conference which was extremely well attended.  I was honoured to present at this Association and talk to fabricators across the ditch on the ways we both did things and what we could learn from one another.

Mike Mostert (CombiLift), Brett Martin (Independent Hardware Group), Darina Gassanova and Ed Serrano (Vekta Automation) joined me on a short tour of Wiri Timbers, Carters and Placemakers in the lead up to the conference.

Our first thought was one of relief, as our timber shortages in Australia would have been much worse if we were required to put the amount of timber in to frames, let alone the size of the timber needed to meet the NZ Standards which of course needs to take in to account, snow loads, high winds and earthquakes.

The second thing to hit us was how clean the plants were.  I’m not suggesting at all that Australian plants aren’t tidy but the culture from the whole team on picking up waste or rubbish if they walked past it did seem to take it to a new level.

Let’s face it, it is about culture and only through the whole team working together can we make our sites cleaner, which in effect also makes them safer.

The Conference itself was over two days and covered similar topics to that covered at the FTMA Australia conference.  The networking was fantastic, and the trade displays provided fabricators the opportunity to mix with suppliers which is, in my opinion, extremely important.

The highlight for me were the presentations by Peter Bevington of Oregon ITM who talked about the productivity and training for detailers (see story) and the legendary All Blacks player Sir John Kirwan who talked about mental health.

As you all know, I’m a bit of a sport junky and have always admired Sir John Kirwan but that admiration has been taken to a new level after hearing him talk about his battles with depression.  To see a room full of men, listen so intently to another man speak about depression and the fact that it is an illness not a weakness was brilliant.

In an industry that is male dominated and an industry, that in my opinion is a caring one, I’d love to see more work in this area.

FTMA NZ celebrates 21 in 2019 and no one knows how to throw a big bash better than us Aussies, so FTMA Australia will be putting together the FTMA NZ 21st Birthday Aussie Tour which will be coordinated to fit in with our National Conference on the 25th & 26th March.

Multinail Australia will be hosting a Multinail Machinery Expo on Wednesday 27th March following our conference and we will be talking to fabricators on the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas to look at participating in the tour for our NZ Colleagues.

I’d like to thank Lance Worthington (Wiri Timbers), Leighton Williams (Placemakers), Alan Westwood and Rene Pienaar (Carters) for hosting us at their plants as well as the FTMA NZ Executive for welcoming us at their conference.

Finally, I’d like to give a huge shout out to Mike Mostert of CombiLift who was kind enough to transport Brett Martin and I throughout our tour of NZ going above and beyond what we expected.  Thanks Mike.

Sam Rowe of Hundegger networking at the FTMA NZ Conference

Kersten Gentle (FTMA Aust.) with Shelena Serrano & Darina Gassanova of Vekta Automation at the FTMA NZ Conference