Our partner Down Under
In 1998 at a tradeshow in Reno, Nev., a partnership developed. There are no mob or mafia tales to tell here. This one is about a manufacturer from Oklahoma City and a distributor/manufacturer in Australia that met and saw an opportunity that has benefited both their companies for 22 years. Pro Plaster Products in Capalaba, Queensland, is a company to know filled with people dedicated to the plaster industry. Perhaps the next time you are Down Under, you can see what the organization is up to and discover how curves are used in Australia.
Meet Pro Plaster
Pro Plaster was founded about 30 years ago with a unique business model—to give plasterers the tools they need to get the job done with the right products at the right price. The company also is the only independent manufacturer of plastering compounds that are shipped internationally. To learn more about Pro Plaster, visit www.proplaster.com.au or watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HRgY-0eyfU or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp_HCshm2AQ&feature=emb_title.
The latest shipment from Flex-Ability Concepts that arrived in Australia in December 2020 included various widths of Flex-C Trac, including some made exclusively for the Australian market. Flex-C Trac is used to create curved walls, ceilings, soffits, arches, S curves and interior domes. For installation, the desired arch/curve is drawn on a hard or concrete surface. Flex-C Trac is placed on top of the drawn line and curved by hand to match the curve on the ground. With Flex-C Trac sitting on the ground, the Hammer-Lock tabs are hammered into place to embed them, thereby locking the shape. Screws can be added for additional support if desired, usually in load bearing situations.
Perry Richardson, the director of Pro Plaster, says: “We strive to bring products to market that make jobs easier for plasterers by challenging the status quo. When contractors see Flex-C Trac, they know it will make their jobs more efficient and safer. We make it a priority to learn about projects that have curves or arches specified in the design so we can get these framing products into contractors’ hands. Once they know about Flex-C Trac, they don’t stop using it.”
The Australian Market
The use of curves in design is cyclical. In Australia, curved ceilings and soffits currently are popular in retail and hospitality. Going back 10-15 years, archways and curves could be seen in every new residential project. While we wait for another design shift to see what is coming next, the 2020 Australian construction market turned out better than anyone could have expected when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. Construction was deemed essential and work continued in most markets as Australia became an international example of how to properly handle the pandemic by shutting down to stop the spread of the virus (Australia reports 909 deaths as of Feb 17). The pace of work was slower for commercial construction because of certain segments, like retail that was closed due to the pandemic. The residential market, however, is hot in part because of a government initiative. In June 2020, the government announced eligible Australians could receive $25,000 to build a new home or renovate existing homes. This initiative was created to keep contractors employed and to bring a surge to the construction industry. The Flex-Ability Concepts product line is available for both commercial and residential construction.
Pro Plaster faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 because it relies on shipments from China and the United States, which were delayed because of the pandemic. It has increased its stock to have a successful 2021, and the company can rely on Flex-Ability Concepts to help achieve that common goal. Richardson says, “We work well together and resolve issues easily. For more than 20 years, this partnership has been a good fit for us.”
We at Flex-Ability Concepts could not agree more. We are a unique small company because of the employees who wear many different hats to keep us thriving and expanding, as well as partners like Pro Plaster that monitor a market beyond our reach. Networking at trade shows will once again be part of our future. Until then, when an opportunity for partnership crosses your path and peaks your curiosity, consider it. You might still be talking about the guy you met at a trade-show booth in Reno 22 years later.