Introducing Walker Bros
“We introduced new systems and processes around margin management as well as locking down our POS system to provide staff with appropriate levels of authority. We’re improving the culture and everyone’s autonomy,” says Darren.
There’s nothing like hearing from our members and getting to know them a little better.
Speaking with Darren McKiernan, the Operations Manager for Walker Bros. on New South Wales’ Central Coast gave us some great insights to the thriving timber business and some excellent stories from their 90 years of experience.
The original Walker Bros. sawmill in Ourimbah Creek was established in 1933 by David and Alex Walker. Two years later access to better quality logs pushed them to Mangrove Creek and their reputation for good business and even better timber was established. The Walker brothers said goodbye to steam powered machinery once electricity found its way to the coast and in the 1940s, they took possession of the current site in Gosford. In the 50s and 60s, the brothers began to import timber and led them to become a leading timber merchant for the region.
“They’re the biggest and the best on the coast,” says Darren, “and they’re the only wood machining mill between Sydney and Newcastle. Walker Bros. is so steeped in Central Coast history, you tread lightly when you walk the yard,” finishes Darren, with obvious respect for the founders and their impact.
That’s not to say that there weren’t challenges when Darren arrived to take his position as Operations Manager a little over 2 years ago. “We introduced new systems and processes around margin management as well as locking down our POS system to provide staff with appropriate levels of authority. We’re improving the culture and everyone’s autonomy,” says Darren.
Upon his arrival at Walker Bros. Darren immediately undertook a major redevelopment of the hardware department too, developing a new floor plan and layout, with new fixtures and an entire new range. Using previous experience and seeing the opportunity to secure the long-term survival of an excellent business, Darren sought the help of a buying group that would continue to help the business grow and evolve.
“Anyone who is running a solid trade business would be mad not to be with Natbuild,” said Darren in a recent interview with industry go-to Hardware Journal. “It has been a good fit all around and the support we get from the Natbuild team is exactly what we want. Based around our needs as a trade supplier, we just wouldn’t get this anywhere else. We’ll always get a call from one of the product managers to tell us about a new deal or something that will work for us, and they come to us all the time, which is great.”
“I think our involvement will only grow stronger over the next 12 months as we continue to work closer with Natbuild aligned suppliers”
Walker Bros. is a perfect example of what Natbuild can do to help improve, maintain and sustain business through all kinds of weather.
“I think our involvement will only grow stronger over the next 12 months as we continue to work closer with Natbuild aligned suppliers,” believes Darren. “Looking forward and towards 2024, we are putting in preparations for a softening market, and to meet these challenges, we will need to rely on relationships like Natbuild to get us through. They have helped us in developing our ranging strategies and introduced us to suppliers and mills we wouldn’t have previously dealt with. It gives us a chance to focus on the things that work, including these relationships.”
With 90 years under their belt, the Walker Bros. legacy is in safe hands, even continuing to have third generation family members on the board. Since joining the team Darren McKiernan has stressed and reinforced the importance of good business and the relationships, like Natbuild, that make it so.
When asked how he would respond to anyone considering joining Natbuild, he says, “don’t hesitate, just do it.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves Darren.
Walker Bros. Timber and Building supplies is located at 50-68 Glennie Street, North Gosford, NSW.