By Candace Sofianos King
We caught up with steel industry veteran Andrew van Gool of Fabcon Steel to talk steel, sector trends and business success.
Q How did you enter the steel business?
After attending university, I worked for a structural engineering firm for five years. I then started my first steel company called Domestic Reinforcing Steel. After a very successful 17 years I sold the business and then grass rooted another steel company, Fabcon Steel, with a greater slant towards the structural steel manufacturing side of the steel trade. With demand from old clients, I included a reinforcing steel bending yard as a separate division to the company. To date, I boast 20 years’ experience in the industry.
Q What attracted you to the industry?
I believe my engineering background contributed towards my drive in the steel industry. I love a challenge, especially unusual steel structures. I enjoy finding solutions for any client, no matter the size of the job.
Q What is the current state of the steel sector?
It goes without saying that the construction and steel industries respectively are reeling. On a daily basis, I strive to take on diverse projects that are not specifically tied to the main stream construction sector. The industry will recover greatly, I believe, during 2020 to 2021 financial years. Careful management and prudent financial controls will ensure Fabcon Steel will be there to benefit from the turn around.
“It goes without saying that the construction and steel industries respectively are reeling. On a daily basis, I strive to take on diverse projects that are not specifically tied to the main stream construction sector. The industry will recover greatly, I believe, during 2020 to 2021 financial years.”
Q What are the major challenges that the roofing industry needs to overcome?
Timber is becoming a precious resource and green energy punters are more and more unwilling to use timber in their contracts. However, there are many creative ways that steelwork can be used to supplement timber structurally and aesthetically. The roofing sector, especially in the domestic housing market, should look to light weight steel truss design to keep up with the changing trends with regard to green energy and carbon footprint design parameters.
Q What is your favourite part of your job?
I love the diversity – I look for the challenging requests from clients, not necessarily the profitable ones – profits will come. To add to this, my personal work ethos is to invest in your staff.
Q Future prospects?
I hope to develop Fabcon Steel further to be the top industry player within its target market. I also see myself giving lower management more freedom to explore new divisions and opportunities for Fabcon Steel. I want the challenges to start coming from my staff as well as the clients – I want them to challenge themselves and ask, ‘is there any reason why we cannot do this job?’