World Class Steel

Barlow Industries

Barlow Industries Ltd works to ensure customer satisfaction by supplying high quality, world-class ASNZ standard steel products – providing excellent solutions for customers across a range of industry sectors in Papua New Guinea.

Barlow provides merchant steel and rolled steel products to the construction industry in Papua New Guinea, supplying the best steel products available including products to support roofing, gutters, building frames, as well as reinforcing steel and mesh – right down to chain mesh and security fencing. The company endeavours to provide a diverse range of products to suit the needs of builders from the ground up, quite literally.

Barlow is part of the Comcraft Group, a multi-national company represented in Australia, Singapore, Africa, Papua New Guinea, and beyond. For more than three decades this company has been involved in the manufacture, trading and distribution of quality steel goods, offering plumbers, builders and other trades access to top quality across many continents.

Papua New Guinea, home to Barlow Industries, is incredibly culturally diverse, especially for a region of its size. It is made up of less than seven million people, who between them speak more than 800 distinct languages. Much of the nation is sparsely inhabited, including vast expanses of jungle and mountainous regions which steward many small, traditional rural communities. These areas are home to thousands of unidentified plant and animal species. In fact, fewer than twenty per cent of the people of Papua New Guinea reside in the country’s largest urban centres, Port Moresby being the capital.

With such a strong culture of tradition, many Papua New Guineans practice subsistence farming and have little access to academic opportunities. The diversity of Papua New Guinea is one of its great strengths, but also one of the impediments to commercial and industrial development, as many areas lack the infrastructure to support industry and settlement, or are themselves virtually inaccessible. Of course, this absence presents opportunities, and many infrastructure and other developments are presently in the works by numerous conscientious operators throughout the country. For its part, Barlow Industries provides meaningful employment for more than one hundred citizens of Papua New Guinea, encouraging the development of valuable trade skills.

Papua New Guinea has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, ranking as the sixth fastest growing, and opportunities in mining, forestry, construction, and other sectors have created the perfect environment for major growth and social and economic development.

The country has varied regions, such as the New Guinea Highlands, which runs the length of the island, while the lowlands are dominated by dense forests and wetland areas. Due to the challenging terrain of the nation, many areas are only accessible by air transport. Papua New Guinea is a land rich in natural resources, with minerals, forest products, tuna, and coffee making up the bulk of the nation’s export. That said, the rugged and varied environment has tended to slow further potential growth.

Despite the challenges that Papua New Guinea faces, since 2008 the nation has continued to grow economically, at a rate as high as nine per cent annually, weathering the global financial crisis of that time better than many other nations. This economic growth is largely attributed to the continued strength of commodity prices in not only the mining sector, but to a lesser degree in agriculture.

Most of the largest centres in Papua New Guinea are situated on the eastern half of the Island of New Guinea, where Port Moresby and Lae, the country’s second largest city, are located. This makes the area one of the nation’s most important centres of trade and commerce.

We spoke recently with Mr John Uthmann, CEO of PICSA, during a time of transition in which Barlow Industries’ Manager of the last three years, Jim Jenkins, is moving on to new opportunities. It is clear that Mr Uthmann is excited about the quality of the products that the company offers and what its success means for its employees and the company as a whole.

“Quality, service, and customer support are our strengths,” says Mr Uthmann. “If there’s a high rise being built, we can provide the reinforcing steel in the initial stages of the earthworks with providing, bending, and processing the steel right up until we put a roof and gutter on top of that building,” he explains. Mr Uthmann goes on to say that the company strives to meet the needs of the contractor from the very beginning, and right through to the completion of the building process.

Speaking of the building industry in Papua New Guinea more broadly, Mr Uthmann recognises a recent boom in the industry due to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline project in the nation, which has ignited a wave of housing, accommodations, and factory building projects. He says, “We’re going through the biggest boom that PNG’s ever seen in construction, which is reaching its plateau.” Barlow currently has a series of large ongoing construction projects in the region, and is taking advantage of the opportunities Papua New Guinea has to offer.

Indeed, the company can ensure its customers of high quality products that will stand the test of time: “We only stock ASNZ standard steel to provide a surety to the building industry that we conform with anything that they have in place, from architects to Australian standards in place for the building industry,” shares Mr Uthmann – which is important, as industry in Papua New Guinea begins to move away from cheaper, lower quality imported steel and toward the best, world-class products available.

“We want to bring PNG to Australian index standards so that they conform with the rest of the world. We’re moving away from the cheaper import steel and we’re making sure that we have good solid recording and backup in the quality of our products.”

Mr Uthmann attributes much of this success not only to the high quality of products the company provides, but also to the lasting relationships it has been able to forge. Being situated on an island, Barlow Industries wisely makes sure to hold a great deal of stock to be able to meet the demands of customers. The company also prides itself on the timely, meaningful support it can provide customers. “We offer very good technical support and technical advice in grades and types of steel required for certain projects, which customers come to expect from us.”

To accommodate demand for its products, Barlow Industries has invested in a great deal of new machinery and workspace, building a new factory at the Barlow complex and new equipment to accommodate work in the roll-forming sector, such as panel rib and corrugated iron. “The expansion and development done by Jim Jenkins to lift the company in three years to be the major supplier in these areas is a credit to the incredible work he has done,” says Mr Uthmann. “The factory and its facilities are now world class.”

Barlow Industries expects continued growth in the future, with a focus on quality products, excellent service, and lasting relationships in the growing construction industry in Papua New Guinea.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 18, 2021, 10:44 PM AEDT