Hosken Site Steel has developed a strong reputation for getting the job done when it comes to the fabrication and erection of structural steel. They have grown from working in the medium to small range projects and have recently geared their business to serve larger projects. This means that they run the gamut of capabilities: from the erection of large steel frame structures right down to detail work and miscellaneous metalwork, they can really do it all.
Andy Colenso, Business Development Manager at HoskenSite Steel, describes the finished products that they produce as the “deluxe model or the Rolls Royce”, and says that they work best when challenged with an intricate design and interesting ideas. Not all projects can offer this, but they try to show their abilities off in all the little finishing touches and specialties that have helped them build their name over the years. They have worked hard to be seen as a player at this level, and Andy says with a bit of humour and a bit of modesty that they “have done the talking so now we are doing the walking.” Andy has only been with the company for a short while but was always impressed at their proficiency and ability on the job site when he engaged them on a project. “I was a project manager on the other side of the fence, and I had dealings with the company. Kim approached me one day and said he was looking for someone to help him take his business to the next level, and then asked me if I was interested in getting involved with the company.” Andy saw it as an exciting opportunity, and one that would help him concentrate on a single aspect of the business rather than the multiple trades he was dealing with everyday. “I found it an interesting opportunity and a challenge and saw that I could do a really good job to drive the business unit forward,” he says. In the time that he has been with the company Andy has overseen an almost complete overhaul of all their practices and procedures. “We looked at seeing if we had any deficiencies, and then tidying them all up,” he says. What he found was needed was not a major operation, but a collection of small improvements and modifications.
New direction, new ideas
The required new direction that Hosken Steel is taking stems not from failure, but from their success. Hosken Steel has built up its abilities to a point where they need to take that next step from servicing the smaller builders, to applying their abilities to the next league of businesses. “The business was started five or six years ago by Kim Hosken, our founder, and he started working with a lot of small to medium sized builders,” says Andy. “What we found was that we were entrenched with these small to medium sized companies. So we were doing a lot of school work, and at the time the economic stimulation package that the Federal Government put forward many contractors were caught up in the stimulus package work.” What Hosken Steel was looking at was not just surviving the GFC, but planning where they wanted to land after the crisis. They picked up a few jobs with what Andy considers the tier one builders in Queensland in order to demonstrate their capacities reached beyond the small and medium scale. “Most tier one builder had already formed some good relationships with large structural manufactures, but we were looking to become that second choice.” The happy middle type contractors, where the client is not looking for too large or too small, they wanted to be the next one in line between the two. “I think we have picked up that work very well and it is now starting to pay dividends. We have picked up four jobs alone with Watpac that run in the four million dollar range. So our turnover has gone from six-and-a-half-million last year to about what we expect to be about ten million this year,” he says. They have not done this move without the input of their employees. Hosken Steel solicited the concerns and ideas from all their employees, from the receptionists all the way through to their front line workers, and incorporated them into the overall business plan for Hosken Site Steel’s future. What they found from this survey of their people is that they all shared a fairly consistent and unified vision for the company and Andy takes this as almost a point of pride. Through this they have created a clear blueprint that has enabled them to put into place programs that allow all levels of those in Hosken Steel’s employ the opportunity for further training and up-skilling.
Up-skilling the future
Part of the openness that Hosken Site Steel engages in starts at the educational level. With multiple openings for apprentices, they work in conjunction with colleges to provide those looking for placement in the skilled trades. This has the benefit of both getting enthusiastic new employees, but also potentially skilled workers who will spend their career with the company right from their departure from school. “We have six apprentices on at the moment. This has been one thing that we have always done,” says Andy. “Our founder Kim and I have the same outlook on this.There is no point in having 10 or 12 employees who are all long term with no skill labour available to come up through the ranks. It is also, in part, something we do in order to give back to the communities in which we operate,” he says. “We are always looking to find that new breed of Hosken employee that will be a supervisor at the end of the day or climb the ranks within the company.”
A one stop shop
What separates Hosken Steel from the competition – besides their obvious concern for the future of those under their employ – is that Hosken Steel has integrated both drafting and manufacturing capabilities into their business model. “It is a massive advantage against our competitors,” Andy admits. “We have three draftsmen sitting under our one roof.With our competitors that is one area that they subcontract that work out,” he says. “When you do this you are not completely controlling your own destiny. We are a one stop shop, you can come in and we will draw it, fabricate it and then erect it.” Controlling that whole process saves their client both time and money. “I can really step into the next room and tell a draftsperson that I need those drawings by tomorrow, and that is it. That is part of the beauty of what we can deliver and in this aspect it gives us a big head start.” Having the design team on hand not only benefits the client, but acts as a problem solving unit for their employees on the fabrication floor or on-site. If they encounter a problem with the implementation of a design they have full access to the team that designed it and the issue is solved immediately.
Their drafting team can also provide an inroad for their other services, and it is an aspect of the marketing of Hosken Site Steel that Andy embraces fully. “If there is a job out there that we really want to chase we can do the modelling at the point where we are tendering for the project,” says Andy. “This gives us a big edge when we actually go and sit down, and is much better than sending a quote in via email like many do.” This provides Hosken Site Steel the opportunity to sit down with a potential client and guide them through the upcoming project via their 3D rendered models. “This alone often lets people know what sort of professional outfit they are dealing with,” he says.
Their complete integration of services has also allowed them to manage time tables much more effectively than the competition. “These hold ups often happen at no fault of the contractor, but having it in house means that your direct lines of communication are always there,” says Andy.
Right now they have built a very strong client base. After they have established this stage of the business, Andy promises that they will not be stopping the expansion of their operations. “We will be looking at taking on some mining work, because it has always been part of the course we set to be in that sector, but in saying that we know that we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket. I would like to think in the next five years we will have diversified into many other sectors,” says Andy, adding that the federal accreditation that they have currently engaged in will help them secure Federal and Municipal Government contracts once they are completed. Hosken Site Steel has grown and increased its output in some of the toughest times in the last century – there is little doubt they will achieve their goals.