It is important that FTMA Australia listens to their fabricators and when you begin to hear the same message from a number of fabricators you know the issue is becoming serious.

One of these issues is the fact that fabricators are not being treated as the key player in the supply chain that they are.  They are being leap frogged with some timber companies chasing the builders direct and therefore forcing fabricators to use timber suppliers they may usually not use at prices that are locked in.

I have always promoted healthy relationships between fabricators and timber companies and this is a two way street.  Just as fabricators expect to be provided quality timber deliveries on time and at the right price, the fabricator must also ensure they are good customers to timber companies, especially when it comes to payment terms.

However, in some states the issues is getting out of control and the following is an excerpt from a FTMA members email to me which they asked me to raise in the hope that fabricators would be given more respect and the leap frogging would cease.

Their rant, which I strongly support follows:

Whilst I am not having any real issues and have good relationships with all our engineered timber suppliers  it concerns me how the industry has developed  when it comes to deciding which floor company to use for our engineered joists and sheet flooring.

The fact is, most if not all large builders (100+) are locked in on a 2 or 3 year contract with a nominated floor supplier.

The  builder tells the fabricator they have to use floor supplier “X” as they have an agreement with them. Usually builder gets some sort of rebate for each floor system they use however have no idea of material rates and are probably paying for the said rebate.

This creates some problems:

1. Lack of competition, floor joist supplier knows they have customer locked in for 2-3 years happy days!

2. Complacency by floor supplier as no competition.

3. Fabricator cannot use any other floor supplier so best not upset them as they control pricing and could price fabricator out of work.

4. Fabricator stuck using a floor supplier that may be lacking in service , delays in getting quotes/design back thus loosing job as already given out , delays deliveries etc. (you would think one quote /design goes to all fabricators bidding however several designs may get done and quoted on).

5. Floor suppliers don’t give same price on floor system to fabricators bidding on same job, this can disadvantage some fabricators and benefit others.

6. No real competition; is that even legal?

I urge timber companies to work hand in hand with the fabricators that actually use your materials in the prefabrication sector.  Remember loyalty is a two way street!