During the first week of August, Nikita and I took to the road again, this time focusing on the fabricators in North NSW and Southern QLD in the lead up to the Queensland Members Focus Forum.

Visiting plants during these road trips is the perfect way to talk to members and non-members on the issues that affect them, whilst outlining the work being done by FTMA Australia on a national level.

It was reassuring to hear that the timber shortage issue was coming to an end and that most plants were no longer struggling to source timber.  There are some exciting things happening within the Australian softwood industry including massive investment in technology and resource efficiency which we believe will help our industry in to the future.  Peter Zed of Omega Consulting provided delegates at the Queensland Members Focus Forum at Novotel Brisbane Airport with an overview of the Wood Fibre Supply Dynamics within Australia and I encourage members to download a copy of the presentation from the Members only section of the website.

There are two major issues that were raised during this trip:

  1. Shortage of skilled Timber Systems Designers and;
  2. The aggressive push by the steel industry in to our market

In relation to the first issue, FTMA Australia has been doing some great work in developing a training program to address the skills shortage.  Phil Ladson has developed a three week classroom styled training program that is pre-software and goes back to basics to ensure, unlike other industries, the frame and truss industry continues to upskill our workforce.

The training development does take time and we believe in 2019 we will be able to offer this training in all states and territories, depending on numbers, and that by going back to basics, we can not only upskill people but also create a career pathway for people wanting to enter our industry.

Phil Ladson provided an overview of the training package at the Queensland Members Focus Forum including some of the tools he will use to deliver the training.  We still have a way to go, but this is an area we are extremely excited about and believe will assist our industry in to the future.

For more information on what is included in this training, please download the presentation, which you can find in the Members Only section of the website.

In Queensland and NSW the push from the steel industry has been aggressive, with many fabricators complaining about being inundated with information from those pushing light weight steel as an option for our industry.

Add to this the advertising on The Block and it is easy to see that the Australian frame and truss industry is a key growth target area for the steel industry.  FTMA Australia knows this too well as we were approached ourselves from Bluescope to become sponsors.  This was rejected by the FTMA Board based on our constitution as FTMA Australia was created to support the timber prefabricated industry and we do not shy away from our support of timber over other products.

So how do we combat this aggressive marketing campaign?  We stick to what we do best and that is provide the most environmentally friendly building product for the market.  I know this isn’t a key factor that consumers and/or builders look for and that price is always a determining factor when choosing the materials to build their homes.

However, I encourage fabricators to read the story on doing your bit to promote the best environmentally friendly building product in FTMA News.  You can make a difference and FTMA Australia will be working with other stakeholders within the timber industry supply chain to address this issue in the coming months.

It should be noted that we haven’t seen evidence, at this stage, of anywhere else in the world where lightweight steel is viewed as a significant threat to timber framing.

This is only the 2nd Members Focus Forum we have held with our new board structure and the attendance was excellent with 52 people attending the forum and networking dinner.  Our next Members Focus Forum will be held in South Australia on Tuesday 13th November in conjunction with our AGM and board meeting and we look forward to networking with suppliers and members at this event.