Business needs a solid infrastructure plan

08 February, 2017

Business owners Wayne and Wendy Freeman would welcome a long-term state infrastructure plan as they say work would inevitably funnel through to their two businesses.

The couple run electrical repair business Freeman Industries, which is a service agent for Ridgid, Onga and Hitachi and plastic welding sales and hire business Polyweld Machinery, both based in Prosperity Avenue, Wangara.

CCI is calling for a 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy.

Freeman, in business since 1983, says tools and equipment either hired or owned by tradesmen and companies that have come in for repairs have been used on numerous infrastructure projects across WA.

In fact, selling machinery to work on the Harvey Pipe Project, a $72 project to pipe the Harvey irrigation district in the early 2000s, gave Polyweld the kickstart it needed.

While the electrical repair business had been operating for a decade in Balcatta, Freeman saw the opportunity to expand into plastic welding.

“We sold machines to Harvey Water in the early days and they were doing the dams, mainly the plastic pipes. They were our first sales and got us off the ground,” Freeman says.

“We went from having a briefcase full of bits to a warehouse.”

The two businesses operated from separate premises in Balcatta, but moved to Wangara in 2013 in a consolidation that saw them downsize from 10 staff to five including themselves – a reflection of the leaner economic times.

“If no-one is spending money, all your tradies are not using their gear and not getting repairs,” he says.

“We depend on those people and that’s everything from plumbers, electricians, tilers, sanders. One of the odd things we have is looking after ceiling sanders, so if no houses or hotels are being built, they don’t have work.”

In recent years business has come from tradesmen working on extensions to Joondalup and Midland shopping centres, Fiona Stanley Hospital and Perth Stadium.

“We don’t necessarily always know where the work is coming from in terms of what projects people are working on, but these ones have been mentioned by customers,” Freeman says.

“We’ve had some jobs from Fiona Stanley for plastic welding equipment because there was a lot of welding of pipework in that. Typically plumbers and fire services as well.”

“Infrastructure projects are very important, and also new schools. Whatever it might be, they have got to have somewhere to have those tools repaired or serviced.

 “All those projects have a filtered down effect of a lot of small gear that keep us ticking over.”

► CCI is launching its free infrastructure e-book. Download a copy here.