A new entity has emerged in the timber processing industry, but its name will probably be familiar to most. The Stirling Group has been named as the main brand under which its subsidiaries, Panel Tools, Accurate Australia New Zealand, and Stirling Machinery already co-exist. According to Managing Director, Craig Honeyman, it was important to represent all arms of the business as one for a very important reason.
“Some of our customers deal with one of our businesses, some deal with two or all of them,” he says. “Bringing all three together under one unifying brand streamlines everything and means we can service our customers all along the processing cycle with clarity and cohesion.”
It was identified that by bringing together the combined team’s experience and expertise over all three entities, this would supersize the group’s position as a powerful resource for information, training, and tangible products.
“Combining so much incredible experience into one overarching group,” Craig says, “has strengthened our ability to provide ways for process gains, waste reduction, improved safety, greater productivity and profitability, structured training programs, and more.”
The cohesion is a factor that extends beyond the sales team. Craig says that by communicating via a single brand, the company’s marketing team is better able to deliver Stirling Group’s message.
“To us, knowledge and experience are golden assets and genuinely something that sets us apart from other players in the industry,” he says. “It’s important that our marketing people show others what we’re made of, and that we do have answers, sometimes to questions our customers didn’t even know they had.”
On the factory floor, the same unification applies.
“Our factory team are dedicated, passionate, and driven. The precision and attention to detail they apply are incredible and they have such great depth of skill that there’s never a question that can’t be answered or solved.”
Craig names Service Manager and ‘living legend’, Pappy Halfpapp and Wood Machining Engineer, Kane Obst, as just two members of the team who are dedicated to ensuring Stirling Group customers benefit from top-level service.
“Pappy and Kane exemplify what Stirling Group is about. We operate with respect and integrity, always making sure things are better today than they were yesterday,” Craig explains.
Recently, Craig and a handful of Stirling Group’s Sales Engineers attended the five-day LIGNA 2023 trade fair in Hannover, Germany.
“We’ve attended LIGNA many times before,” Craig says, “but it felt different this time. We are a unified brand and we can have detailed discussions across the whole processing cycle with the many, many suppliers and manufacturers who exhibit there. We also encourage our customers to attend LIGNA and by positioning ourselves as Stirling Group, not the individual entities, it was easier to talk to individuals and the group in a clearer way.”
Craig says that LIGNA 2023 was intensely focused on automation, something that Stirling Machinery has been promoting to customers for years. Since the pandemic, he says that “the industrial world has turned upside down” and change was vital if the timber processing industry was going to thrive.
“We’re finding that the timber industry is embracing automation like never before because now, it’s a case of ‘have to’. It’s no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’. If you’re not adapting to automation in your business, you’re going to get left behind. At LIGNA, we met with and introduced our customers to some very smart manufacturers and their solutions, and we’ll be helping to connect our customers with those solutions in the near future.”
Stirling Group’s Group Sales Manager, Leon Botes, says LIGNA 2023 was instrumental in helping customers to see just how beneficial automation would be for their businesses.
“While automation used to be about increasing production, today, it plays an important role in ensuring stability and consistency across everyday production, getting orders out the door reliably. Since the pandemic, the workforce is not what it was, and manufacturers simply can’t afford to be dependent on such an unpredictable element.”
Stirling Group customers who attended LIGNA 2023 come from a variety of different segments of the industry, including joinery, pallet producers, moulding, sawmilling, and engineered wood products, from both Australia and New Zealand.
“What was very clear about our customers who came to LIGNA was that they were serious shoppers. They were not there to kick tyres,” Leon says. “They were looking to make significant investments in positive improvements for their business because they know how important it is to remain competitive.”
Craig says the sales team’s appointment book is steadily filling with customers keen to learn more about automation and explore ways to implement it in their business.
Article published on Australasian Timber magazine – June 2023