Brickworks builds city business

FORCED to wait up to three months for bricks from Perth’s main brick producers, builders are turning to a brick company in the State’s Mid-West to plug some holes in the failing supply chain.

Geraldton Brickworks is riding high on the current Perth brick shortage, and is using this time of heightened demand to raise its profile and market share in the metropolitan market.

Originally part of the failed Geraldton Building Company, which went into receivership three years ago owing unsecured creditors $3 million, the company’s current success goes some way to put the spectre of its former parent company behind it.

Parties linked to the formerly director of the Geraldton Building Company, Geoff Crothers, bought out Geraldton Brickworks in November 2001.

Two years on and the company has begun to carve out a niche in the Perth market, supplying boutique bricks and match-up bricks to small to medium builders and renovation companies.

The total brick production capacity of the WA market is about 600 million bricks. Of this number Geraldton Brickworks supplies around 10 million bricks.

However, in recent months the company has started to produce more ordinary bricks to meet demand from Perth plus that in the Mid-West and North-West, where Geraldton and Karratha are experiencing solid housing growth.

Geraldton Brickworks general manager Les Walters said the level of inquiry coming from Perth started to rise from August this year, with builders looking for brick suppliers that could provide them with product earlier than the two main suppliers.

Mr Walters said Geraldton Brickworks’ market advantage was that it could produce smaller amounts and ranges of bricks than the larger companies.

“We can be responsive to smaller inquiries and have begun to be known as WA’s boutique brick maker,” he told WA Business News.

Mr Walters said the current Perth brick shortage had “done wonders” to raise the company’s profile and expected some of its new customers to continue the business relationship when the indistry’s current supply problems were overcome.

“It is more expensive to freight it 400 kilometres to Perth but it is not overly expensive and we do deliver straight to your door,” he said.

“We are definitely keen to increase the Perth boutique and match-up range.”

Match-up bricks for the renovation market had potential for great growth, Mr Walters said, with demand estimated to be twice Geraldton Brickworks’ current production capacity.

Mr Walters said he expected demand for bricks to continue.

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