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Hudson Building Supplies

Many in New South Wales and South East Queensland still know Hudson Building Supplies for their catchy advertising slogan: “Udson with a Haitch”. The slogan was first broadcast in 1975, but the company’s rich history of supplying Australia’s building and DIY industry with knowledge and quality products actually stretches all the way back to 1846, when Henry Hudson first set up the business.

The company grew quickly throughout the region and accomplished many major projects in its early days, including the construction of Sydney’s first horse-drawn trams, the supply of prefabricated timber buildings and the production of one thousand railway carriages for the State Railways Department.

Ever an innovative group, the company developed early prefabricated home construction materials. The most notable example of which is the Gudgenby Ready-Cut Cottage, which is still open for public display after having been restored by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.

Clearly, over nearly one hundred and seventy years of operation, the company has seen its share of changes. In November of 2010, Hudson Building Supplies was acquired by Crane Distribution Ltd. which was quickly acquired in turn by Fletcher Building (one of the largest suppliers of building products in Australasia).

Over this time, the company has also fine-tuned its product selection and delivery methods to best meet the needs of each client, removing some of the general shelf hardware from its shelves to focus on its greatest strength – supplying a wide range of building materials for commercial builders and serious DIYers. By doing things just a little bit differently, it has been able to carve out a place for itself amidst the country’s hyper-competitive hardware industry.

“We’ve identified the range of products that our clients need, and it’s important that there’s no distraction from that,” explains National Procurement Manager, Robert Harris.

Recognising that trying to be great at everything often means compromising on everything, the company has made it a focus to continue to do what it does best, and what Hudson does best is stock and deliver the products that its clients need to complete their jobs on time and on budget. “The decisions we have made over the years in this regard have put us in the right position to continue to grow the business in the target market that we see the best fit for our business.”

The company stocks a carefully considered range of products chosen to make sure each customer can get what they need, when they need it. “We have all of the local and imported timber products, like decking, flooring, panelling, all the various structural timbers and a good range of decorative timbers,” says Robert, “but we also supply other products like appliances, tap ware and plumbing items.”

Hudson’s product line includes: a range of timber products (including structural timbers, as well as domestic and imported decorative timbers), a diverse range of building products, sheet material, insulation, doors and cavity units, general hardware, tools, paints and adhesives, plumbing and roofing products, high quality appliances and deck and outdoor products. It also stocks a great range of foundation products, such as cement, flashing, bricks and wall ties.

One of the company’s areas of concentration is in ensuring that it contributes to Australia’s future by purchasing from sustainable supply sources whenever possible, allowing customers to complete each project while leaving the smallest footprint that they can.

In the competitive home hardware market, its business model focuses heavily on delivery to jobsites where the products will be used. This point of differentiation from other suppliers creates a more efficient building process for customers. “They can give us a whole house or home order, we’ll break it into stages and deliver them on time and in full – that’s the value or the edge that we have over some of our competitors,” Robert explains.

The people of Hudson really do see themselves as partners invested in the relationships built with each customer and work diligently to help customers operate efficiently, manage their time and budgets and, ultimately, be more profitable. “We have people that have been here for an awful long time; they know what they are doing and know what is best for each project,” shares Robert, explaining one of the company’s greatest values amidst an industry currently dominated by big box retailers who may not be able to provide the same level of skill, experience and support for customers.

“We have expert staff and can provide expert advice, and, on top of that, if we don’t have something someone needs, we will source it for them. It’s a great all around service that is quite unique and special in the industry.”

In the future, the team expects an exciting period of growth and continued success for the company. A recently released statement announced that Hudson Building Supplies will be conditionally acquired by Home Timber and Hardware in a move that will open new markets and brand strategies for the company. “In the future, what will be interesting to see under the flag of the Home Timber and Hardware Group, is how they build the business and I see a great future and a fantastic opportunity for the company.”

Currently, the company may be outperforming its own capability in terms of aging infrastructure, a testament to its clear market focus. Moving forward, long-time customers can expect the solid ownership of Home Timber and Hardware Group to provide the resources for the continued growth and success of Hudson. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of the growth with HTH group.”

What the company will continue to offer is the one thing its competitors cannot – the face to face, onsite support through meaningful understanding, discussion and consultation that it provides to each and every one of its valued customers. “We don’t do colour catalogues because our ranges vary considerable, so in building relationships, the value is in the experience our sales team has to offer.”

Ultimately, Hudson doesn’t see itself as being in competition with the big box service providers nationally and devotes very little time or money to advertisement, instead relying on the strong reputation it has built over generations and the enthusiasm of happy customers who spread the company’s name via word of mouth.

The true heart and soul of the company may be the thirty five representatives travelling Australia’s roadways between New South Wales and South West Queensland each year, building and strengthening relationships with clients and working to understand their needs. The company’s travelling representatives work closely with customers on site and in the office to share information about new products and emerging technology that will make builders’ jobs easier.

This somewhat traditional, family style method of building and maintaining relationships has worked well for the company and has ensured that customers feel that they are being paid attention to, understood and valued – an experience that most retailers today cannot match. Hudson Building Supplies have branches in major growth corridors that appear to be more productive than most of its competitors through its building of strong relationships. “It is all about relationships, where some of the supermarket style timber and hardware outlets don’t understand the value in that. It’s not always about just having a huge range; it’s about knowledge and expertise, which we offer.”

Indeed, ‘Building with you’ is both the company’s slogan and truly the focus for everyone at Hudson Building Supplies. “We want to be seen as an important stage in each builder’s project,” says Robert. “We want to be part of that project to ensure that the job runs smoothly, timely, efficiently, profitable and that’s the edge that we can offer.”

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 17, 2019, 5:20 AM AEDT