Mar 08, 2016

Businesswoman takes up the fight for formworkers

Businesswoman takes up the fight for formworkers

Ipswich entrepreneur Kaitlyn Moore has taken on Chinese manufacturers in the formwork business and is now leading the charge to give the Australian industry a stronger voice.

The owner and managing director of O’Connell Agencies registered the Formworkers Association of Australia (FAA) last year.

“After 14 years in the construction industry, I became somewhat of an agony aunt of the formworkers, who rang me and offloaded their difficulties and challenges they faced within the industry, in both construction and management,” she said.

“I came to establish the FAA by listening to the needs, wants and problems of my clients and deciding to do something about it.”

The association is aimed at formwork companies and supply business owners rather than the general workforce.

Ms Moore said she was still doing the groundwork to create an online presence for the association to help accelerate its growth.

“We are currently looking for members – people who have an interest in the formwork industry and think they could be part of this platform to voice concerns and advance standards in the industry,” she said.

Ms Moore said her business was going from strength to strength after establishing manufacturing facilities at a 1.3ha factory site in Ipswich about a year ago.

“That has allowed me to increase production and manufacture around the clock if necessary,” she said.

“I have been able to accept bigger projects and really expand.”

Her business manufactures circular, rectangular and square forms for concrete building columns as well as the accessories need for commercial formwork.

Ms Moore grew up in Oak Valley outside Townsville before moving to Ipswich aged 11 after her mum, who was a teacher, was transferred.

“It brought me closer to my dad, who owned his own formwork company in Brisbane, and I guess that’s where my passion for the construction industry began,” she said.

She said she had started operating O’Connell Agencies from her garage in 2002, distributing nails and silicone to jobsites in Brisbane.

“I learnt how to import products from China, so started to buy in bulk and then wholesale to national formwork supply companies,” she said.

“When importing from China became very popular and my competition increased, I looked towards manufacturing to secure my future.”

Ms Moore made the switch four years ago and was manufacturing PVC column forms at a smaller site in Tingalpa, Brisbane before establishing the Ipswich factory.

She said her business had grown to the point where she was using nine machines, employed 17 people and had a multimillion-dollar turnover.

“I would like to make a point about my wonderful team – I wouldn’t be here without the support of the people around me,” Ms Moore said.

Ms Moore was recognised in the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland’s annual Crystal Vision Awards last year, taking out an award for diversity.