Tony Balding looks back on almost three decades with Hebel
Tony Balding knows a good building product when he sees one. So it is not surprising that he was impressed by the Hebel systems he saw soon after CSR began producing autoclaved aerated concrete at Somersby, New South Wales, in 1990.
“I’ve now been involved with Hebel and the development of their systems for more than 27 years, and still find Hebel an exciting product,” he said recently.
In 1987, three years before discovering Hebel, Tony had gone into the business of selling specialised building products after working in project management and contracting carpentry work across regional New South Wales. He was one of a group who started The Building Supply Company at Wagga when they perceived a need in the industry.
“We realised that specialised building products weren’t being serviced, particularly in southern New South Wales, so we decided to start a supply business based on specialised materials, covering the southern area of the State,” Tony said. The business expanded to Albury as The Building Innovation Centre in 2000.
When they heard that autoclaved aerated concrete was being manufactured in Australia they investigated it, liked it and began a close association with Hebel. That association continues today for Tony, now the sole director of The Building Supply Company.
The Building Supply Company, along with The Building Innovation Centre in Canberra which was taken on as a Hebel distributorship around 15 years ago, supplies and installs Hebel systems for a variety of residential and commercial projects, from multi-residential unit complexes to power stations.
“We can have 20 to 30 projects that we are supplying or are involved with at any one time across a broad area of southern New South Wales and Canberra,” said Tony.
As well as selling a product, he believes in knowing the product thoroughly.
“From Day One, our philosophy was that whatever we sell, we have to be able to sell it as a finished product,” he said. “So when we started with Hebel, we were not only selling it, but we were one of the first businesses to promote the texture coatings as well. I think that has probably been one of our most successful decisions. It’s very difficult to sell a product if people can’t see the finished result.”
Over the years the company has also worked closely with Hebel engineers on the development of systems including the PowerShield Acoustic Absorption Wall System, used for power sub-station enclosures, and the Hebel Solid House, an engineered structural wall and floor system for residential houses.
Hebel gives builders more control of jobs
In addition to the benefits to customers, such as the high thermal and acoustic properties of Hebel systems, and their high fire rating performance, Tony sees other advantages for builders who use them in their projects.
“Hebel gives the builders more control of the jobs because they can do the supply of the cladding themselves and lock the houses up quickly,” he said. “They don’t have to wait for other trades to come through, and they can also be trained or upskilled in the coating which, if they choose to do that, gives them even more control of the whole job.”
As knowledge of Hebel grows, so too does the ability of the customers of The Building Supply Company to use it.
“Our customer base is well and truly comfortable with the panel installation and the coatings, and a lot of them are doing it themselves,” said Tony. “Alternatively, we will both supply and install for other customers who prefer us to do it for them.”
With businesses based in both city and country areas, Tony sees a diversity in future developments and demands in the building industry.
“Canberra is well catered for in high rise and unit developments, and detached housing seems to be doing quite well,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong with the metropolitan style in the country either, but other options are there too. We still have the luxury in regional areas of being able to have 600-700 which suits people who want family homes with some space around them.”
Company joins the Buildpro group
The Building Supply Company has recently joined the Buildpro group, which is a large Victoria-based organisation.
“That has been another advance for our business,” said Tony. “It’s a group of businesses similar to ours, independent supply and install businesses, or supply businesses, that have good association with manufacturers like Hebel.”
Tony has found people in general, are increasingly aware of Hebel systems and their benefits and regard “living in a Hebel Home” as a real positive.
“They are talking to their builders about wanting to build with Hebel,” he said. “After 30 years you get runs on the board. That’s how long we’ve been involved with Hebel. We’ve seen it change and develop along the way, and it is still standing the test of time.”