JARROD WARING IS A PREFABAUS BOARD MEMBER AND CEO OF FLEETWOOD AUSTRALIA, A SPECIALIST IN MODULAR BUILDING SOLUTIONS FOR THE EDUCATION, CORRECTIONS, MINING AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING SECTORS. HERE, HE SHARES HIS INSIGHTS ON MAINTAINING MOMENTUM AROUND THE SHIFTING PERCEPTIONS AND LEGITIMISATION OF PRE-FAB CONSTRUCTION METHODS.
How did your experience to date lead you into prefabricated construction?
Early in my career I found myself working for the Victorian timber industry that, at the time, was investing in advanced manufacturing to produce high value products for domestic and overseas markets. I was transferred to Shanghai to establish an export desk and spent the first year visiting hundreds of potential manufacturing partners and the next three developing products for the Japanese and Chinese markets. Having lived and studied in Japan for four years after university I was fortunate to return as an expat eight years later working for Austrade running their Fukuoka office, where I worked with a wide cross section of Australian industry. After eight years abroad, I returned to Melbourne and took a development role in an overseas funded biomass start up. These experiences, together with the opportunities provided to me at Fleetwood over the past seven years, led to my appointment as CEO 18 months ago.
What are the day to day challenges of your roles at prefabAUS + Fleetwood?
At the industry level, a significant challenge continues to be exposing the construction industry’s best kept secret, pre-fabrication. There has been a shift in the market’s perception of modular and prefab over the past five years. Words traditionally associated with the modular industry like “low value”, “unsophisticated”, “demountable”, have been replaced with “architecturally led”, “customisable” and “high quality”. There’s an opportunity to build on this momentum at a time of unprecedented social infrastructure spending. Industry engagement and collaboration are key over the longer term if we are to see our industry continue to grow.
Much of my role at Fleetwood is ensuring our people, processes and infrastructure are aligned to both our current and future business needs. We are always looking to build lasting client and supplier relationships, and as our industry continues to evolve, so must our investment in human resources, technology and advanced methods of manufacturing.
What are some of the key milestones of your time in the offsite industry to date?
Fleetwood played a role in the corporatisation of the MHE (Manufactured Housing Estates) sector and was a pioneer of the permanent modular education building. The acquisition of (MBS) Modular Building Systems last year gave the business significant presence in NSW. We employ more than 300 nationally, and partner to support thousands indirectly through our supplier and contractor networks. In terms of prefabAUS, the association is five years young and still in its infancy. Now with over 200 members and a lean support staff, it has achieved a lot; including widespread recognition for its annual industry leading conference, overseas study tour and numerous networking and educational events.
“Words traditionally associated with the modular industry like ‘low value’, ‘unsophisticated’, ‘demountable’, have been replaced with ‘architecturally led’, ‘customisable’ and ‘high quality’. There’s a clear opportunity to build on this momentum at a time of unprecedented social infrastructure spending.”Jarrod Waring, CEO, Fleetwood Australia + prefabAUS Board Member.
What industry issues keep you up at night?
I lose sleep over the thought of a market disruptor entering the Australian market. If the prefab industry is to reach its potential, then it needs to continue to grow on the back of targeted investment in technology and automation. Industry consolidation and further vertical integration is inevitable over time in order achieve the economies of scale required to meet future demand and service large scale public and private infrastructure projects, particularly in the social and affordable housing space.■