Dynamic Steel Frame (DSF) was established by Peter Blythe (41) in Melbourne, Australia, in early 2013. In a very short space of time, Peter and DSF have gone on to become one of the rising stars of the Australian light gauge steel market with some large and challenging projects designed, manufactured, and delivered in the competitive Melbourne, Victoria market.
With a strong background in CNC machinery and formally trained in mechanical engineering, it was little surprise Peter wound up working for Framecad Solutions in Australia in 2008, where he was responsible for Framecads sales and key accounts for just under five years. It was also no surprise that when he departed to set up DSF at the end of 2012, Peter opted for the Framecad system of machines and software for both his framing and pod business. Starting from scratch, Peter has grown DSF to eight fulltime detailers, four machine operators (one for each machine), and up to 26 staff in assemble and production depending on the production schedule. “I started the business rolling frames on my own to flat pack for kit houses. I marketed heavily and concentrated on the markets where steel framing was a desirable product, including facades, modular, and top-level framing.
“Top Level or Podium Framing is taking the top level of an apartment building, and instead of using heavy structural steel, purlins and stick-built wall framing below to create the apartments, we build in a similar manner to a domestic building, using LGS wall frames and roof trusses to create the top level of the building. Generally, the levels below are concrete shells, and we begin framing immediately after the final concrete pour. From here, we extended to balustrades and façade elements, many of the details of which are now widely copied around the industry”, said Peter.
Working for Framecad also provided Peter and DSF with a head start. “I already had a very good understanding of the market and the potential demand in the marketplace for the product required and the lack of manufacturers. So essentially, I had identified our drivers, and I simply acted on them,” Peter added.
“Back when we first started Dynamic, we couldn’t compete in the domestic construction sector, because the status quo was still stick-built wooden wall frames and wooden trusses. Time on site meant virtually nothing, and so the cost/benefit didn’t stack up for pre-fabrication. However, in the commercial sector, where time is money and precision is key, pre-fabricated CFS hit right in the sweet stop of speed, price, precision, and capability. Commercial builders wanted to sit down with us and fine-tune the design to be perfect and make sure the onsite erection time was fast and efficient, with all relevant fire and acoustic codes taken into account. This has translated well, however, into the large scale townhouse projects, where commercial builders want to have all the questions asked and answered before a single piece of steel is rolled, again, making for very fast onsite build processes,” added Peter.
Since starting DSF, Peter has seen some market changes and more competition in the last seven years, including the arrival of international competitors. “Australia is very large geographically, so we have state-based competition, rather than countrywide competition. When I first started the business, there was very little competition in the market I chose. Now, we have several smaller operations opening up on the back of our pioneering in the marketplace. Some larger and some smaller, but all are doing reasonably well. Some overseas competition recently, however, customers haven’t had the best experiences with them, so not sure if that will continue to be a big issue,” said Peter.
DSF predominantly manufactures for the Victorian Australian commercial market, which provides around 75% of their manufacturing contracts (mostly supplying direct to professional builders and occasionally to the more adventurous home builder/do it your-selfer). The remainder of their business comes from various channels including, light industrial, investment housing, low-cost housing, high-end bespoke homes, apartment multi-residential, owner builder, cladding, and façade builders and in recent years, the growing industry of tiny house’s. Their Framecad based manufacturing system gives them the ability and flexibility to produce one-off walls, floors, and trusses through to entire finished buildings. And when coupled with the can-do attitude of Peter and the rest of the DSF team, has built them an excellent reputation in the Australian LGSF market.
Peter and the team completed these facade modules for the Victorian (State) Government GovHub Office in the Latrobe Valley. Each module weighed 3,000kg (6,613lb) and stood 14.5m (47.6ft) tall, 2.4m (7.9ft) deep, and consisted of 2,200 lineal meters of steel (7,218ft). This innovative Cold Formed Steel solution saved over $1m dollars in scaffolding costs and months of man-hours.
The Australian steel framing residential market is approximately 14%, which is a large market acceptance by world standards. This wide acceptance is helped and driven by an active industry body NASH (The National Association of Steel-Framed Housing) and large industry supply partners such as Bluescope and their Truecore brand, which dominates the Australian G550 coil market. Truecore steel coil is approximately AUD$1,400 per MT (USD$888 / 2,205 lb) and provides coil tracing by logging every manufactured coil for future reference and tracking.