Based in Armidale, NSW, family-owned and run Timberline Bathroom Products continues to go from strength to strength as one of Australia’s largest bathroom vanity manufacturers. Their range of bathroom products can be found at stores such as Harvey Norman, Beaumont Tiles, Domayne and independent bathroom retailers nationally. Operations Manager, Marius van der Walt says one of the company’s priorities in order to continue growing and expanding is securing suppliers whose commitment to customer service matches theirs. “We are growing 30 percent year on year. We recently built another factory and are already starting to outgrow it! One of the cornerstones of our success is partnering with suppliers who help us meet or exceed our goals. They become, in effect, a secret weapon for us.”

Industry outlook

When asked about the future of the flat panel/cabinet industry, Marius says a lot more technology is being applied. “We’re going to end up with as many IT-savvy people as tradies in the factory. Automation is becoming huge moving forward. Also, a lot of our energy goes into finding ways to be greener and more socially and environmentally friendly, so we are always exploring new materials, techniques and expertise. Manufacturing in many places is dying but we’re bucking the trend. Some of our 26 apprentices go on to do two trades (panel manufacturing and building demountable homes). We’re currently investigating doing more machining and that type of production in the housing side as well.”

According to Marius, manufacturing bathroom vanities is a recession-proof market. “When there’s a boom, there’s a big market for new builds. In a bust cycle, people renovate so there’s always demand for what we offer.”

The importance of aligning with like-minded suppliers

Timberline discovered the Panel Tools Online stand at AWISA 2018. “From our first experience with Panel Tools Online, we’ve found that they run their business with a similar culture to ours,” Marius says. “When you’re used to providing really good customer service, you know when you’re getting it and when you’re not. Our rep, Fraser Killen has been very proactive from the beginning in terms of not doing the hard sell. His visits to our facility always bring more value to the partnership and our machinists can always call him up and get the information they need instantly in terms of things like feeding speed rates and new types of tooling for different types of material. We do in-house design here and when we need a tool, Panel Tools Online get a sample to us the next day.”

25 percent improvement in production cycle times

Marius says the team are particularly impressed with PTO’s Xtreme Blue range of products which they use on MDF and chipboard. “It’s a really good cutter,” he says. “We cut a lot of panels and all our cutting is done on CNC routers, so we go through quite a bit. Since we started using Xtreme Blue, our replacement time has halved. The cutters last twice as long and produce a very clear cut. We can actually machine faster than before, so our production cycle times have sped up by about 25 percent. Our lead times are often half or faster than our competitors; we offer five days from order to dispatch and we need tooling that can keep up with that. Xtreme Blue does.”

Timberline Bathroom Products intends to enjoy its partnership with Panel Tools Online for the long-term. “They’re a good fit for us,” Marius explains. “Our motto is ‘making it easy’ and they do the same. It’s easy to get the right tool for a specific application, they’re easy to deal with and all this takes some of the headache out of running a factory that uses as many machines as we run.”.

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