Spouting off about low-cost imports

By Jess Brunette May 01, 2015 Spouting & Guttering

We spoke to two players in the spouting and guttering category for an update on how the market has been and what issues are top of mind for the future of their business. Jess Brunette reports.

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.

Like most aspects of the construction business, this category has seen decent growth as building matures in Christchurch and Auckland. Marley’s Group Product Manager Scott Townsend is happy also to report healthy signs of recovery in Wellington and Tauranga where the company’s Stratus Designer Series (see sidebar on page 36) has seen good uptake.

Murray Brown of Browns Brushware also reports steady demand for products such as Gutter Whiskers that provide cleaning and maintenance for roofs and guttering systems. Brown feels that consumers are steadily realising the benefits of recognised brands in this category.

“I believe there is demand for quality brands that have been proven over years in a demanding market and consumers are becoming wary of the failure associated with the growing number of ‘me too’ mostly Chinese made lines,” he says.

Marley’s Townsend echoes these concerns as the current high New Zealand Dollar creates an environment where the importing of untested overseas made products can thrive.

“The current high dollar does affect local NZ manufacturers like Marley as it encourages importing of foreign products, many of which haven’t necessarily been designed, tested or proven to perform in the New Zealand environment,” he says.

Murray Brown elaborates on the practice as he has seen it done in all areas of the hardware channel: “The low-cost import products pervade all categories and, let’s be honest, there is still a lot of gas left in the Chinese tank,” he says.

Many would argue that there are plenty of very reputable Chinese manufacturers currently working with New Zealand companies however. So how do we sort the wheat from the chaff?

Brown continues: “Most importers visit a Chinese trade fair and buy a generic product at a low price, providing they comply with the MOQ to enable them to slap a house brand on it they can take a position in the market.

“The key to the offer is can the importer claim authenticity of the raw material content in their product and that it matches that of the local manufacturer who deals with the composition of raw materials involved in the production of an item?”

A stalwart of the category, Marley is continuing to work on the mix of materials in their products to remain competitive and meet the needs of its consumers.

“Marley continues to innovate to reflect changing customer needs,” explains Scott Townsend. “The local manufacturing model can and does work but it requires constant and agile innovation. The companies that best embrace technological change and recognise how it can benefit the end user, are those that will thrive. For instance, in the rainwater category, manufacturing technology advances are allowing Marley to increase our rate of product development and be first to market with new innovations.”

So meeting the need of consumers will remain paramount for spouting and guttering. But the ever-lurking threat of cheap imports hovers over suppliers who in turn must continue to provide the market with new, innovative products. Watch this space…

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HARVESTING RAINWATER: THE BASICS

Lifestyle homeowners have been actively harvesting rainwater for years although the subject has continued to just bubble along below the surface of the mainstream hardware channel. Still a little bit of information goes a long way as they say so here’s a short guide to doing it right.

To ensure a healthy supply of rainwater, the roof, guttering, pipes and other features need to meet certain criteria so water collected isn’t contaminated by decaying vegetable matter, faecal matter or dead animal remains from birds, possums and rats.

To reduce the risk of contamination:

  • Ask for roof, spouting and pipework materials that will not contaminate the water supply. Suitable materials include unpainted zinc/aluminium-coated or galvanised steel, aluminium, concrete or terracotta tiles, copper and PVC (without lead stabilisers). Refer to Standards New Zealand’s AS/NZS 4020:2005 for more details.
  • Roof paints also need to be specified as suitable for rain collection. Acrylic paints need to be rinsed with one good rainfall before being used.
  • Specify leaf guards over the gutters and leaf screens on downpipes.
  • Request a first flush diverter to prevent the first 20–25 litres of water from entering the storage tank as this may be heavily contaminated.
  • Try to avoid using roofs with overhanging leafs or aerials as these may encourage vegetable or animal matter contaminants.
  • Make sure chimneys discharge smoke and soot away from catchment area.
  • Keep gutters regularly maintained.
  • Leave a new roof for at least one good period of rainfall before connecting the downpipes to the storage system.
  • Use leaf guards for gutters and leaf screens for downpipes.
  • Put first flush diverters on pipes to help with collected water quality. For roofs with minimal pollution, diverting the first 20 litres/100 m2 (0.2 litre/m2) of roof area is recommended while heavily polluted roofs should divert the first 50 litres/100 m2 (0.5 litre/m2) of roof area.

Refer to the sustainable building website www.level.org.nz for more information on all aspects of water supply and drainage.

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