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Structural Steel Distributor

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Structural steel distributors act as the link between the producer and the fabricator. Obtaining steel from steel mills around Australia, the distributors supply steel to fabricators for major construction projects such as high-rise buildings, sports stadia, warehouses, bridges and shopping centres.

A company dealing in the distribution of structural steel needs to have extensive warehousing facilities to carry a large stock to service the needs of its clients. Often the steel distributor holds stock that the fabricator wants supplied on a just-in-time basis.

A good geographical location means the various needs of the industry can be met without delays.

There are two distinct categories of steel products: long and flat. Long products include structural beams, columns and angles, tube and pipe. Flat products include plate (more than 3mm thick) and coil (less than 3mm thick). Plate is usually ordered by size due to cost considerations so plasma and oxy cutting machines are needed by distributors for this purpose.

In addition to warehousing, distribution and administration, steel merchants also need a sales team. Good logistics and materials handling knowledge are essential as well as an astute understanding of business and strong customer service skills.

The steel distribution industry seeks highly efficient people who are interested in serving their customers quickly and accurately by sourcing the right steel product at the right time and price. An ability to thrive in the trading environment is important as well as an attention to detail, especially in areas such as stock control, order fulfilment and customer satisfaction.

Qualifications

Some examples of TAFE courses:

  • Certificate II in Transport and Distribution (Warehousing and Storage)
  • Certificate III in Transport and Distribution (Warehousing and Storage)
  • Certificate IV in Transport and Distribution (Warehousing and Storage)
  • Diploma of Logistics Management

No specific entry requirements needed.

Apprenticeships are recommended.

Contacts

List of TAFE colleges: www.australian-universities.com/colleges/list.php

Australian Apprenticeships: www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au

Logistics Association Australia: www.laa.asn.au

The Structural Steel Distributor

“The steel distribution process is about teamwork and people. Good facilities and plenty of stock help, but basically people like buying from someone they know will look after them. So essentially we look after customers’ needs.

We have to buy the right product at the right price and so we need to know the market. The team must select the right product and deliver it on time. Automatic bar coding, e-trading and huge magnetic cranes are often involved.

On-time deliveries are how we measure ourselves and so we’ve got to be able to deliver – the next day or earlier most of the time.

The company looks after our training and safety and allows us to be shareholders in a share plan arrangement so I feel like I’m working for myself as well as the other shareholders.”

Russell Chataway
State Manager, Distribution

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