The power of local steel
The Global Financial Crisis crippled many manufacturers, both large and small, throughout the building industry. For some, it forced them to close their doors. For others, it meant an opportunity to go back to basics.
Throughout this year, we have focused extensively on the benefits of buying Australian-made building products and materials, where possible, in your projects.
It’s not the easiest task in the world, particularly given the tough competition provided by quality – and not-so-quality imports – but there is no doubt that the benefits to builders and the wider building industry are endless.
This extends to the metal roofing sector, where quality and warranty are of paramount importance. According to the Australian Financial Review, weak construction activity and ‘unfair’ import competition have forced more than 20 local steel manufacturing companies into liquidation in the past year.
Even the big players, like BlueScope, were not immune to both financial and operational struggles. Like many other local manufacturers, it was determined to stay afloat – the steel sector is a major part of the building industry and that needed a sizeable, local investment against it.
According to BlueScope national business development manager (sales and marketing) John Rosette, this meant the company had to go back to basics.
“The GFC affected us like a lot of other organisations and we’ve had to restructure. You look at your core competencies and refine your core product before you start to look at your value-adding components,” he says.
As a well-known local manufacturer of flat steel products, you can be comfortable in knowing that BlueScope’s products are designed for Australian conditions. John is proud to say that the company uses advanced manufacturing technologies and best practice testing processes to produce steel products in Australia to a consistent, high level of quality.
If you need any proof of this, look no further than next generation Zincalume steel and new Colorbond steel which have both survived rigorous testing both in-house and out in the field to ensure it can withstand the tough local conditions.
“There’s definitely a sentiment with Australian manufacturing. It’s linked to the whole message of compliance to standards and quality,” John says.
“The long-standing history that we have plays a big role – it’s 100 years of history and proven product performance. Our testing regime gives you confidence. There’s also compliance; a key foundation of anything we do is make product that complies with the relevant Australian Standard. BlueScope is not in the game of providing products that don’t meet the requirements and in the rare cases where something does go wrong, we’re quick to fix it.
“People need to understand that in the current environment, what we’re creating is the lowest risk alternative. We’re manufacturing for local conditions, which ultimately goes back to risk. Quality leads to compliance, which leads to the mitigation of risk. That means a builder won’t end up with a bill that they weren’t prepared for or able to afford.”
BlueScope’s decision to extend its manufacturer’s warranty for next generation Zincalume and new Colorbond steel is also only something that a local manufacturer can promise if they have confidence in, and can prove, the quality and compliance of their product offering.
“Through that process, should something go wrong, the concept of a locally manufactured product means you have that technical support to turn to through the whole process, from design through to post-installation. That’s where warranties and after-sales service from an Australian manufacturer actually mean something to the end user.”
Identifying the genuine article
Imports of coated steel building products represent a much bigger proportion of the market than before the Global Financial Crisis. As a result, both builders and consumers alike should be wary of being sold non-genuine products.
If you’re wondering whether or not a piece of steel has been manufactured by BlueScope, there’s an easy way to check.
“The launch of our next generation coated steel products is about dialling up the differentiation between BlueScope and imports. There are question marks over compliance when you are talking about imported steel products that weren’t designed for Australian conditions,” BlueScope Australia and New Zealand chief executive Mark Vassella says.
“Only genuine BlueScope products such as Colorbond and Zincalume steel have our brand name printed on the back of the sheets. We encourage buyers to check the product to make sure they are getting the real thing.”