LL Installations is a construction group located in Melbourne’s West. Their work is mostly for tier-one builders such as Multiplex; Schiavello; Built; Shape; Cod Build and others. They specialise mostly in feature walls and ceilings, and bespoke joinery items. Luke Lawry is the director and says, “We never do the same thing twice. The more complicated the work, the better we like it.” Luke is sold on Holz-Her as his machine of choice; he currently operates a Sprint 1327 edgebander and has just ordered a Dynestic 7535, a 5-Axis CNC machine due for delivery early next year.
Luke is a young 39 years of age and jokes, “Sometimes I feel older” but despite this occasional feeling, he says, “We don’t mind being under pressure, we like tight deadlines. We have our own niche market and the type of work we do for high-end builders demands that we have good machinery. We’re always pushing boundaries with the various materials and processes we use. Our machines need to be up to the task, our reputation depends on it.”
Luke started out in Bendigo building kitchens and as soon as he finished his apprenticeship, started out on his own with Hillcrest Furniture and Cabinets, a business his father still operates. In 2002, after a year overseas, he moved to Melbourne to capitalise on the multi-billion dollar building boom, establishing the Lawry Group, trading as LL Installations. The group operated for many years without a factory, working for companies like Charles Tims; JFK Interiors and Built, installing acoustic panels; structural steel joinery; external cladding; signage and other work.
Relationships are the key
About six years ago Luke decided they needed a factory to produce some of their own products. They installed a panel saw ‘package’ that included a small edgebander, but this proved to be unsatisfactory. Luke says, “It produced an inconsistent finish, we can’t afford to have any product that doesn’t measure up to the high standards our customers expect. A few years ago, we decided to get a decent edgebander.” Over the last few years one factory has grown to five, but these will all be consolidated next year when their new building is complete. The new Holz-Her Dynestic 5-Axis machine will be installed and a new stage in LL Installation’s history will begin.
Luke believes in relationships, both with his customers and his suppliers. Some of their work such as polishing, and powder coating is outsourced, and he’s used the same companies for the last ten years. Most of his 60-plus employees have also been with him that long. His relationship with Weinig Australia is also based on a working relationship that he regards as excellent. He says, “Their sales guys have a lot of time for you; their technicians are here when I need them and if I need them to come and help me with a new process, they’ll be here for that too.”
The more complicated, the better.
Luke continues, “The Holz-Her edgebander is a stand-out machine. I did look at other brands, but I couldn’t ignore the references I was getting from other users who had a Holz-Her for many years and never had any trouble with them. Recently, Luke came up with an idea to apply 2mm solid timber to a box aluminium extrusion of up to eight metres in length. He’d noticed long timber parts in buildings that had bowed and distorted and said, “I’m not going to make that mistake.”
The ‘tenderised’ 2mm wooden edge strips come in 50-metre rolls from Germany and fit right onto the Holz-Her. We love their cartridge system for our PUR adhesive we need to bond to aluminium; the edge the Holz-Her puts on is premium.”
Luke says, “Weinig had never seen this done before but sent out a technician to help us set it all up. We rough up the aluminium on the sander and use PUR adhesive to apply the 2mm edge. The finished product looks just like a long, solid timber section but it’s 100% stable. We used this technique in a recent project at the Victorian State Library where we completed the new children’s quarter and loft as part of the governments Vision 2020 redevelopment.”
Some of their other noteworthy jobs are Bunjil Place; all the timber veneer you see on the walls inside the Foyer and Theatre was sourced from a single massive blackbutt tree, saved by a sawmill in Queensland. Capitol Grand is an inspiring wave-form architecture designed by renowned architects Bates Smart and will be the tallest landmark building outside of Melbourne CBD. Timber veneer work and feature staircases at AGL headquarters and the solid aluminium façade at the Donald Whitehead building at Latrobe University are two more stand-out jobs completed by Luke and his team.
LL Installation’s work is ‘design and construct’ where an architect will prepare a preliminary design and a contractor will complete the design and construct the project. In this case LL constructions as the contractor will take on the risks in the construction. While it may be possible to alter everything outside the overall shape and specifications, resulting in possible savings for the contractor, Luke is focused on meeting all quality and construction standards.
Luke’s next machine will be a Dynestic 7535, 5-Axis CNC machine he saw at Ligna this year. He says, “It is not the cheapest machine, nor is it the most expensive, but the supplier’s service and reputation are second-to-none. It only takes one bad job to affect your business, so a premium machine is essential. We recently had to cut six thousand angled pieces on our panel saw and it took us a month! We expect the Dynestic would have done it in less than a week; it’s going to save us a lot of time. We’ve been working six days a week and for a few months, 24-hours a day and that’s not good enough.”
Their new Dynestic 5-Axis CNC machine will be capable of handling 2200mm wide and 300mm high workpieces. The Z axis stroke is about 560mm which is standard for a rail and pod machine, but generous for a flatbed nesting machine. It will have a variety of vacuum pads for workpieces that need to be raised above the table, and a special ‘Atemag’ soft cutter pro aggregate, a reciprocating jigsaw for cutting insulation. The machine also has an overhead projector for pad and workpiece positioning, and a special laser line projector for manual cutting operations.
“We like doing work others put into their ‘too hard’ basket. Feature walls and ceilings, anything that’s not straight forward, jobs we can sink our teeth into. We don’t ever want to just churn stuff out. We want our work to be admired so we depend on the best people and the best machines. We’re very happy with the Holz-Her product, it suits our diverse needs very well.
On most jobs we’re pushing boundaries in materials and construction and our equipment must be up to the task. With Holz-Her, we have a partner we can depend on to provide the machines we need, and to back that up with the support and service we demand.”