A New Way of Building

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-By D. Barratt

Ritek Building Solutions has been offering innovative structural roof and wall systems in Australia for nearly 30 years, pushing the building industry ever forward with its time saving, waste reducing custom designed building solutions.

“We’re an overnight success 30 years in the making,” suggests Paul Martins, CEO of Ritek. “The building industry loves the idea of innovation, but no one wants to be the innovator.” Ritek seems to be the exception, a company who has continuously challenged the status quo of the building industry and created some of the most unique roof and wall solutions in Australia. “We’ve got 30 years of history, but it’s only been in the last 10 years or so that our XL wall system has really taken off with the insulated roof panels having a much greater track record.” Today, Ritek has accumulated 30 years of successful building projects, and a track-record of high quality buildings that provide outstanding customer benefits, saving, time, space, and money.

“Really, our product development came about because one of our founders believed that people were building the way their fathers and grandfathers had been building, but he figured there must be a better way of doing things.”

Alan Emblin, Ritek’s co-founder, worked to design as many of the headaches that builders face out of the building process itself as he could. Being a part of the industry, he was able to identify wasteful practices and materials and remove them from the building process. “He came up with what we call a ‘building solution’ that is alternative to conventional constructions methods.” One of Emblin’s solutions was a system that uses custom designed pre-fabricated panels which provide a permanent form for reinforced concrete walls, essentially providing builders with a finished wall, on-site.

Ritek’s unique building products offer significant real benefits to customers, including an incredible reduction in shipping and material expenses. “One of our deliveries,” says Paul, “is equivalent to as many as four deliveries of conventional building materials.”

Because Ritek’s wall structures act as pre-designed concrete forms, and provide permanent interior and exterior wall surfaces all in one, the need for a great deal of secondary resources is reduced, not only saving the cost and time associated with shipping and additional trades but also lessening the strain on non-renewable resources. “There’s very little waste if any because it is all project designed and custom made.” What arrives on the customer’s build site is exactly what they will need to complete their build and nothing else.

Ritek can also offer customers an unexpected amount of usable floor space. Since the company’s solution is significantly thinner than traditional block walls and does not require additional finishing, as much as five per cent additional floor space can be used by architects or designers for other purposes.

“We’ve had architects being able to generate an additional unit in a multi-level residential building based on space savings by using our system over conventional systems. We have many examples of customers saving over $500,000 on a project by using our system.”

Not only does Ritek work to improve and simplify the building process for builders, the company is also sensitive to environmental needs. “Sustainability is paramount to us,” says Paul. “Our product only uses man-made resources, but I think the biggest benefit is that everything is pre-fabricated and manufactured to the design. So what you get with us is a huge reduction in waste.” Also, since the roof and wall structures are manufactured to purpose, much less waste is generated through the fabrication process compared to most traditional building techniques. “Just in the deliveries alone, we are reducing your traditional carbon footprint by as much as 70 per cent, and offer a further reduction in site waste.”

But the sensibility of the method goes well beyond physical waste reduction. Of course, being a poured concrete solution, Ritek’s walls offer superior thermal properties for customers, and the company has spent a great deal of time perfecting techniques that, when combined with the inherent properties of concrete and built-in thermal insulation, can offer customers significant project and energy cost savings, all while lessening their impact on the environment.

And these numerous benefits have attracted a growing number of customers over the years who have been happy to speak out about the benefits of the system provided by Ritek. With nearly 30 years of successful projects under its belt, the industry is taking serious notice of Ritek’s innovative approach.

“Customers come to us for a range of reasons,” says Paul. “Sometimes they have a tight site or a remote location and our solution is just perfect for them. Other times they need to build quickly and they know if they build with us they can work very quickly whilst achieving considerable overall project cost savings.” It doesn’t hurt that customers get an insulated all-in-one system that can be installed quickly.

And it is, and always has been, the team at Ritek which has supported the growth and innovative products the company has been able to provide for its customers. “We really exist to challenge and improve upon conventional building practices, which we do by providing innovation in product design and our custom made solutions. The team here realises that if we’re not helping our customers to increase their productivity, we’re not going to be successful, so we always have in mind, ‘how can we reduce the build time, the cost of construction and waste, and how can we improve the handover time for our customers so that they can be more productive and get through more projects?’”

It’s not just about efficiency, though – Ritek also offers design options that many traditional building suppliers simply cannot, and even encourages customers to challenge the team to create new and inspiring products. “We are able to offer roofing systems with different top and bottom materials and colours and there are very few companies out there that can do that. So as an architect, you know you can have that vision and there is a company out there that will help you realise it.”

For instance, “We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort testing the industry-leading cantilever capability of our roof system, which allows a lot of office buildings to do away with air conditioning by cooling the air which can be circulated throughout a building.”

The company does not limit itself to colour options alone, but also takes on tasks including unconventionally shaped roof structures, such as elliptical profiles. “Some architects and engineers have come to us with outrageous designs and really pushed us to create something special, and we’ve been able, with our team including R&D, testing and design, to come up with the solution they’re after.”

And this is at the heart of the company’s ethos, which is continual growth and development of new and exciting building practices that make building easier, less expensive, and less wasteful. “It’s about finding out what the customer needs and challenging the status quo both internally and in the industry more broadly.”

When discussing the state of the building industry in Australia, Paul recognises the fragmented nature across Australia and the parochial and individualistic attitudes to be found across the states and territories. “It’s highly segmented. We operate nationally and certainly we see the Northern Territories as full of opportunity and we see NSW and Victoria as steady, but not as active as the other states.”

Also, regional builders are often immersed in traditional building techniques and a particular regional aesthetic, making them slow to adapt to new technologies and processes. “It’s a segmented market and it’s difficult to talk about the Australian building industry as a whole. You’ve got different states and territories who like building different ways.”

Though Ritek is a truly national entity, supplying the building system across all of Australia, the company plans to continue its growth across selected states and territories, as well as internationally. “We’ve been operating in Australia for 30 years successfully but we really see that our technology is as applicable internationally, if not even more so, than in the Australian market.” Paul recognises the benefits of Ritek’s quick and easy building system in growing markets that require the flexibility the system offers. He identifies the Middle East, where Ritek already does a great deal of business, as a region in which he expects to see major growth in the near future.

“One situation in which our product works very well is when builders need to build quickly and with a high quality finish. Right now in the Middle East we see a lot of demand for housing solutions. We’re already doing business in the Middle East and we’re confident we can do a lot more.”

As more architects, builders, and customers come to fully understand the benefits of the Ritek system, Paul expects the company’s national and international recognition to grow, allowing the firm to expand further.

But it is still primarily the customer, and the environment, that is on Paul’s mind as he guides the company into its future. “Coming up with the solution to some of the industry’s problems with conventional buildings [is what drives us]. We’re a solutions driven company, which means that we sit down with engineers and architects and determine how to reduce cost, time, energy and effort in getting successful customer outcomes, and that’s the philosophy we have here.”

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January 27, 2021, 2:25 AM AEDT