Solar panels

Faster, stronger, greener

The Stoddart Group is continually working to improve onsite processes for Australian builders, helping them deliver better-performing, more environmentally-responsible houses.

Author

Gabrielle Chariton

As one of Australia’s largest suppliers and installers of building products, the Stoddart Group is an integral part of today’s housing industry, not just as a supplier of essential components, such as steel roofing and framing, but also as an innovator and a driver of change.

The company’s origins trace back to 1959, when it was founded by Tom and Albert Stoddart as a sheet metal manufacturer. The business’s first foray into the housing sector came in 1978 when it pioneered the use of metal fascia in the Australian market with a new supply and install model.

It wasn’t until 1991, however, that Stoddart really started to gain traction as a construction industry supplier, under the direction of Albert’s son, Jon Stoddart, who continues to lead the business today.

Over the decades, the Stoddart brand has become synonymous with quality and innovation. Being a family business delivers the flexibility and agility required to quickly adapt to changing market demands, to push boundaries, explore how building processes can be streamlined, and to experiment with product diversification.

‘Our mission is to create solutions that deliver a better way to build,’ Jon explains. ‘We are continually looking at ways to build faster, stronger, better, and looking at the processes of how we can help builders do this. We put a lot of emphasis on safety to ensure we’re building a positive and progressive working environment.’

Today the Stoddart Group employs 550 staff and has 30-plus branches located from Cairns down to Adelaide. Its dominant product lines include steel framing, roofing, energy, cladding and garage doors. Jon describes the business model as ‘supply and install’; Stoddart works directly with 2500 builders across Australia – ‘from those who build five homes a year, to those who build 5000 a year’– coordinating product delivery and providing qualified personnel onsite to erect and install those products.

Jon Stoddart

‘We are always on the lookout for new products globally…[and] how we [can] bring those products into Australia…’

(Right: Jon Stoddart of the Stoddart Group)

One of Stoddart’s most exciting new technologies is SunYield, which allows residential landlords to monetise solar installations on their freestanding investment properties.

‘There’s a computer inside the switchboard which allows you to now charge for the solar that’s being used by the tenants, or to send the power back to the grid and get paid that way. SunYield can increase the income on a rental house by about $25 per week,’ he explains.

The benefits of such a product are significant, as SunYield has opened a previously-untapped avenue for generating additional green energy and reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Stoddart’s new cladding products offer housing professionals a simple, cost-effective way to build thermally-efficient houses. Its STAAC Wall panels, made from autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), have met with a positive market response, Jon says, thanks to their strong thermal and acoustic ratings, non-combustible nature and versatility.

‘We’ve also introduced a product from Japan called Ceraclad, a ceramic-coated exterior cladding system with a unique photocatalytic finish,’ Jon adds. This self-cleaning photocatalytic finish emulates photosynthesis: ‘80 square metres of Ceraclad panels emits the same air purification properties each year as six large poplar trees.’

Cladding
‘80 square metres of Ceraclad panels emits the same air purification properties each year as six large poplar trees’
Steel framing
The Stoddart Group's dominant product lines include steel framing, roofing, energy, cladding and garage doors

Looking to the future, Jon believes that economic and environmental forces are bringing the housing industry to the cusp of change. ‘In 1978 we started building slab on ground, then we introduced timber framing being built in the factory, but really what else have we changed?’ he asks. ‘There’s still a heap of labour turning up onsite and manufacturing the house. So we’re one of the last industries to see a digital transformation.

‘A lightbulb moment for me was looking at a 1901 photo of Fifth Avenue, New York, and it was covered in horses and carts. In a photo of Fifth Avenue taken six years later, 70 per cent of what was there were cars. So what were the people who were making horses and carts thinking? Were they wondering how to make their horse-and-cart offering better, without understanding that technology was going to change what they did?’

Jon thinks ‘we’re approaching that tipping point now with construction’.

‘From here on in, technology will start to have a greater impact. We’re already seeing BIM change how we build multi-rise; we’ve seen a bridge in Amsterdam 3D-printed by robots…will we be printing houses one day?’

While it’s still early days, Jon aims to keep the Stoddart Group at the forefront as this digital transformation emerges.

‘Our R&D guys are always investigating what’s being done in different parts of the world; talking to large companies and working out how we can collaborate with them and capitalise on these changing technologies. Because unless we’re looking forward to where it’s going, we’re not going to be here to deliver those solutions to Australian builders.’

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