Mark Finney started Beenleigh Steel Fabrications Pty Ltd (BSF) in 1980 with his business partner Frank Boyes. Finney says that when they started out they had a very little amount of stress; “We knew what we wanted to do, and we just set out to do it, there were opportunities out there and we decided that instead of working for someone else we might as well make a go of it.” From that point they have grown over the last 31 years to employ over a 120 individuals in various roles. Last year marked their 30th anniversary, but Finney says that they did not celebrate overmuch; they just kept on working along.
Their head office is located in Logan City, on the Crestmead Industrial Estate, and has a factory floor area of 2500m², with an additional 600m² of office space, amenities and storage areas. This location employs 70 to 90 skilled workers. Their second location is found at Rocklea, and is a 1400m2 facility. In each of their locations their in-house fabrication capabilities include processing, cutting, holing and welding. Finney sees them as a leader in the industry, specialising in the supply, fabrication and erection of medium to heavy structural steel projects. They have gained a great reputation for their projects in both the public and private sectors. The majority of the work that BSF engages in is located within Queensland, but Finney says that they have not let geography limit them too much. “We have done projects like Star City Casino, and the Sydney Superdome [now the Acer Arena]. We have also completed structures on the New South Wales/Victoria border,” he says.
Knowing the trade
Both Boyes and Finney come from strong trade backgrounds which gives them a unique perspective when it comes to administering and guiding Beenleigh Steel Fabrications. Their ability to see the needs of their trades, the market and their customers has led Beenleigh Steel to spin out a secondary, but integrated company called BSF Metal Centre, who provide for all of the construction industry’s steel needs. “We started BSF Metal Centre because we were using huge amounts of raw material, which we were buying from steel merchants. It was a good opportunity for us to create this start up business as a steel merchant, with a customer the size of Beenleigh Steel,” he says. BSF Metal Centre Pty Ltd now stands as a steel merchant company that is wholly owned by Beenleigh Steel Fabrications. They supply a complete range of steel products to the industry, and importantly, they do it all at very competitive prices. “We started off sourcing product for Beenleigh Steel, and in that process it was possible to buy sufficient material to provide for other customers as well.” Finney says this puts them in the interesting position of often supplying the direct competitors of the parent company Beenleigh Steel, but that their professionalism, honesty, and fair-mindedness ensures that the customer always gets the best price and service for their money.
“One of the advantages of being a steel construction company first is that you know all the issues that working with the material can raise on the job site, and then take that knowledge and apply it to our steel supply side,” he says. This knowledge makes them then perfect supply shop for those in the steel construction industry because they know that the materials that they have developed have been tried and tested, with the end use in mind. “Buying from us makes the customer fairly confident that all the bases would be covered.
Complete, reliable service
“We offer a complete service,” says Finney. “In that we supply and fabricate, deliver and erect the steel work. We have our own erection equipment and our own qualified erection personnel.” This means that with all these in-house capabilities, BSF controls every aspect of their given involvement within a project. This is an attractive aspect of the company to clients, because this means that the process that BSF gives them are not inflated by the need to take on outside contractors, and they have full control of their timelines. “We can provide that whole steel service. Our clients do not have to go somewhere else to erect the structures, somewhere else to paint it, and so forth.”
Their clients operate in a broad range of industries, so Beenleigh Steel Fabrications has developed a comparable range of abilities. When asked what their most challenging or impressive job that they have worked on, Finney responds by saying that each job has its own rewards, and they do not take a special importance over another. That said, a few projects come to mind that have helped cement the reputation and abilities of BSF in the market. “Some of our more challenging projects have been hard jobs like the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Suncorp Stadium – we have done a lot of stadium projects. We have also recently completed the Kurilpa Point Bridge across the Brisbane River. That was the first tensegrity bridge ever constructed,” he says. Tensegrity construction depends on separate components that create stability by connecting high tensile cables and connecting joints together, the end products are a bit baffling, but awe-inspiring. “In this project we received a good amount of recognition, and a great amount of press for this project,” he admits. “The bridge was constructed from both sides of the river, and we had to meet in the middle – so that made the error tolerances very tight. It was quite a feat.” Of their award winning projects, it is easy to see that BSF is often engaged when the design is something new, or innovative – especially when it comes to the use of steel in the project. This speaks to the fact that their reputation has preceded them as steel specialists who not only offer a one stop shop, but are experts in every aspect of their service catalogue.
Many of their projects do not require Beenleigh Steel Fabrications to design the project but they have developed a strong set of subcontractors to provide those services for the client if they do. “We have a great set of contractors and suppliers that we utilise constantly. We are able to draw from those people for anything that we don’t do in-house,” Finney says. He looks at the subcontractors as part of the BSF family, and sees them as parts that expand their given set of capabilities. Getting the right people is important, he explains. “You have to keep your ear to the ground, and monitor how different people are doing within the industry. You have to find the people that are making a name for themselves in the industry, and we try to target those people and get them on board as much as possible,” he says. “With many of our supplier and contractors we have developed long term relationships with them.”
A safe bet
Finney says that there are many advantages in having Beenleigh Steel Fabrications involved with a given project. “There is not a lot of risk involved when you have Beenleigh Steel on board a project. This is because there is not a lot we can’t do. We have the runs on the board, we have got the experience to do just about any type of project that there is,” he says. Another strength that they have may have little to do with steel, but much to do with their abilities in erection and structural work. “We are licensed to erect precast concrete, which is beneficial for projects like stadiums where you have the steel and the precast concrete go in hand in hand. We provide that whole service in-house,” he says. He gives the example of Suncorp Stadium, located in Milton. “The entire seating bowl is basically precast concrete seating plats that sit on steel beams. They had to be erected in a sequence, so it’s important that you don’t build yourself out. So it is obviously very beneficial to have someone there who could put up the steel and the precast concrete at the same time,” he says. This means that there was no reason to upscale to job to require larger onsite work with more than necessary cranage and heavy machinery. This saved their clients time and money.
In their 31 years of operation, Finney admits he still feels a real sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of every one of their projects. “You can’t really drive around Brisbane or even Queensland without passing at least one of our projects,” he says recognising the impact that they have had on the physical make-up of the communities BSF operates in. “We have a reputation for doing iconic type projects,” he says. “You don’t see our name in flashing lights anywhere about; we prefer to be quiet achievers. By keeping out of the limelight, and not seeking it out, this means that the reputation that we do have has been one that we have deserved,” he says. He thinks a big part of what they have done is create a sense of safety for their clients, they always get the job done. “We get it done regardless of the circumstances, or the problems that’s might arise,” with BSF, he says, they have established a reputation of reliability. This is the message they hope everyone hears, and this is the message they have written for the last 31 years.