Superyard: Enabling the circular economy for builders
A lot of excess construction materials either go to waste or sit dormant for years, possibly never being used. Sean Carroll finds out how a start-up called Superyard is countering this issue.
Master Builders Australia has released an updated forecast of the residential building and civil construction industry, saying that there will be a bumpy ride ahead but the medium-term outlook is favourable through 2026.
Additionally, the report finds that civil and engineering construction is likely to show the strongest performance of the three sectors of the industry, while a small decline is forecast in 2023 for the rest of the industry.
The variation in growth across the different sectors can be blamed on the post-pandemic economic environment of interest rate rises, surging inflation and unemployment being at a 50-year low.
Long-term supply constraints continue to hamper residential buildings, with Master Builders Australia supporting the decision by the Federal Government to establish the Housing Supply Council in conjunction with State and Territory Governments.
But pick any year, even before the supply chain issues started impacting the building and construction industry, and a few spare materials hanging around wouldn’t go awry for any company. Enter Superyard, the sustainable construction marketplace for Australia.
Superyard is an online marketplace for building and construction companies to buy and sell unused materials sitting in yards across the country and incorporates a stock management system for those businesses that need one.
“The lifeblood of any building company is working capital. Lowering costs of material procurement, cash injections from selling unneeded stock and quicker sourcing can all contribute to a healthier balance sheet,” Superyard founder Ritchie Djamhur says.
“Superyard’s specialised marketplace exists to be part of the solution. Think of us as the ‘Gumtree of Construction’. We’re an alternative to construction brokers and other broad-based marketplaces and create true value for members out of our industry’s circular economy.”
Ritchie says he saw a gap in our construction sector to become more transparent about the unused stock that might sit dormant in storage for years or may never be used. This was one of the inefficiencies he wanted to address with Superyard.
“If a business needs materials at short notice, we know logistics pressures make it almost impossible to source quickly. Superyard’s goal is to help businesses find what they’re looking for and provide a mechanism to unlock cash from idle stock. By harnessing the power of a circular economy platform, we can help construction businesses mitigate the impact of price increases and gaps in stock availability,” he explains.
While there’s no way to value the amount of stock sitting idly in storage at any one time, Ritchie saw enough in his time in the industry. He adds that the start-up is nowhere near critical mass, adding that: “There are over 300,000 construction businesses of all shapes and sizes and we’re here for the long haul to help unlock the value of materials for both buyers and sellers.”
Businesses can register to the Superyard marketplace for free and start listing products from a range of categories including formwork, scaffolding, equipment, timber, steel, water tanks, commercial fitouts and more.
Ritchie adds that the company has a goods inspection service planned for the future: “We have had talks with industry professionals who could act as roving inspectors. But we haven’t yet needed it because the businesses that have posted stock so far are all commercial suppliers and have warranties attached, even if they are ex-hire goods.”
Superyard is still figuring out the best way to fund the platform but Ritchie holds firm that it won’t charge a commission fee for any sales. The team is currently exploring a range of payment/finance facilities from third parties to provide an option other than COD or setting up a trading account with the seller.
“We’ve been live for just over a year now and we have more than 10,000 members signed up. It’s great to see messages of support for what we’re doing and our membership growing every day,” Ritchie says.
“I feel like we’ve hit a nerve with business owners that would love to do more when it comes to sustainable practices on both sides of the inventory coin – procurement and redistribution.”