Business profile: Alpine Buildings
Based in the South Island with offices in Timaru and Gore, Alpine Buildings has gained itself a reputation for supplying and building good quality farm buildings.
If there’s one sure-fire way to get the inside knowledge on any product or service, it has to be talking to somebody who works in the business on a daily basis, yet can provide an unprejudiced point of view.
I caught up with Mike Wright of Mike Wright Construction, whose Christchurch-based company has been on Alpine Buildings’ preferred contractor’s list for the past eight years and has built approximately 400 of the company’s sheds during that time.
I climbed into Wright’s ute to take a trip around the outskirts of Christchurch where we visited a number of farm owners, all of whom were genuinely pleased, not only with their sheds but with the service they had received both from Alpine Buildings as the supplier and from Wright as the builder.
We called in on Dave Martin whose 96-square-metre three-bay shed was on track to be completed in less than a week, including the placement of the concrete floor, all of which was carried out by Wright and his four-man construction crew.
Martin said that the build was progressing very quickly and he was delighted with the quality of the product and the workmanship.
We also paid a visit to one very happy customer, Tony Srhoy, who said he was so pleased with the first Alpine shed he had built to house his trucks and machinery, he had another one built, and when he found the need to build a hay storage facility there was no other choice for him but an Alpine building the third time around.
Srhoy said that all three structures have endured a number of fairly gusty north-westerlies without the slightest sign of damage and the fact that the sheds are designed to be bird-perch proof and to handle snow load are two definite advantages.
It was interesting to note that each of the half-dozen buildings we visited on the day were built with a different purpose in mind, ranging from hay storage to one very happy client, local identity Brian Stokes, who uses his shed for storing all manner of farm machinery and an impressive collection of rally cars and associated paraphernalia.
Stokes reckons that only one shed isn’t enough for one man and his family so he is considering adding another shed to his collection – no prizes for guessing where from!
From a builder’s perspective, Wright says that dealing with Alpine Buildings is a hassle-free experience, citing the fact that right from the get-go everything is organised with military precision.
He went on to say that even for the purchaser who intends constructing his or her own shed, Alpine Buildings make the process as easy as ABC, even to the point of organising the building consent process.
Having spent an entire day with Wright and visiting a number of Alpine’s customers, it was easy to see that the builder was as enthusiastic about the Alpine product as the clients and indeed Alpine Buildings themselves, so I asked him to talk me through some of the reasons for his enthusiasm.
"Basically it’s hassle-free," he says. "From my company’s point of view, all my team and I have to do is arrive onsite with our equipment and wait for one truck to arrive carrying every single component we’re going to need to complete the build."
He went on to say that every package is well labelled and has been checked for accuracy of its contents and that he couldn’t recall a time when a component was missing from the checklist.
"Each building we construct has been specifically designed by Alpine Buildings’ in-house engineers to suit its particular application and location, taking into account such things as wind-strength, direction and snow load."
Rafters are made to measure and there is a minimal amount of cutting required onsite, although naturally the timber poles need to be docked to suit the height of the structure.
Wright says that the consistency of the quality timber supplied in the inventory is of a very high standard.
Additions and alterations to the original plan are never a problem to Alpine’s design and engineering team, Wright says these are always handled with ease and the clearspan construction allows for unhindered movement within the structure, minimising the risk of damaging equipment being manoeuvred inside the building.
Galvanised steel rafters ensure the structure is particularly strong and give the structure longevity, while the wooden framing allows the building to have a softer feel than an all-steel framed shed. It also helps with easier placement of shelving, internal walls and the like.
Wright’s building firm constructs other buildings that are not specifically farm-related but his enthusiasm for the Alpine product is infectious and the interviewee turned the tables and became the interviewer when he asked me what percentage of return business I imagined he gained from his Alpine jobs – my answer – "about six to 10 percent".
It appears that I was way off the mark as the correct answer was closer to 60 percent.
While that figure sounds colossal, I found it to be entirely believable because during the course of travelling around Christchurch for just one day, I met one man who already had made a second and a third purchase on the merits of the first and another man who was planning his second Alpine shed not long after the completion of the one we were standing in when he told me the story.
Recommendations don’t come better than that!
Read the full article in the latest issue (#228) of Farm Trader magazine. Subscribe here.