A clever approach to choosing printing media means TuffPlans can survive whatever hard use or weather a worksite throws at them.
After a long and successful management career in New Zealand and Australia, everyone would have understood if Peter Haszard had decided to focus on his family and golf. Instead, he’s created a business printing plans onto Tyvek®, providing builders and fabricators with a product that can survive the rigours of the real world.
“I’m a bit of an entrepreneur who enjoys developing new concepts,” says Haszard. “When we started printing TuffPlans® some five years ago, our first customer was Carters Building Supplies, with their eight frame and truss manufacturing plants spread throughout New Zealand. Previously they were hand-colouring black and white photocopies, then laminating the sheet.”
Options were limited then, with most plans provided as A3-A0 paper copies, usually printed in monochrome. Haszard knew enough about the industry to be familiar with the problems: paper doesn’t handle worksite conditions, turning to mush when wet and becoming ripped or unreadable after hard use. Photocopies suffered from image degradation, laminating is time consuming and PDFs were usually resized by printers, causing scale problems.
He and his team at TuffPlans researched alternative technologies, looking for an option that delivered lasting, true-to-scale results and was practical and affordable. “We chose Tyvek because of its durability, dimensional stability and resistance to moisture and solvents,” Haszard says. “Although it’s manufactured from synthetic materials it’s still recyclable.
“The wide format printer we use to print on the Tyvek uses a solid toner that ‘bonds’ to the medium, which means that as well as being waterproof – including seawater – the image will survive solvents. Petrol and diesel won’t damage it, and neither will harsh treatment or UV exposure.”
The new product met with immediate success, with Carters continuing to make regular orders. “We’ve been involved with TuffPlans since they started,” says Alan Westwood national operations manager at Carters Manufacturing. “It’s a great product, backed with excellent personal service.”
New Zealand F&T specialists PlaceMakers, ITM and Akarana Timber are also regular customers, along with many building firms and other specialist plan and map users. Based in East Tamaki, Auckland, TuffPlans now has three permanent staff and regular contractors who are brought in for high-volume periods.
“In the 12 months to February 2019 we printed some 10,361m2 of TuffPlans, ranging in sizes from A3 to A0,” says Haszard. That’s the equivalent of 82,888 A3 sheets.”
Recently the product has made a major move into Australia, partnering with national hardware groups to provide services.
Plans to grow
In addition to F&T plans and project plans, Tuffplans also produces other documents that need to stand up to hard use, including maritime charts, topographical maps, custom maps for leisure tourism, custom maps for specialist hunting trips in Europe, even signs that builders use to identify and promote their company on house builds. “We’ve also printed 22-page all-weather training guides for junior rugby players,” says Haszard, sounding like a true New Zealander.
The printing process is simple and straightforward: plan files are uploaded to TuffPlans as an interactive PDF. Haszard says, “Once received, we arrange the pages to get the most economical use of the one-metre wide Tyvek. Then, once printed, the sheets are trimmed, packed in courier satchels and shipped.
“Our service promise is that files received prior to 1.30pm will be shipped that night. For Australian customers, if we receive PDF files by 1pm [NZ time] we will have printed TuffPlans shipped that night and experience has shown that TNT Express can deliver to most Australian addresses in a maximum of four days. To Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane it’s overnight.”
Although the company has always shipped internationally, a focused move into Australia began last year. “We were investigating opportunities and things really gained momentum after the NZ FTMA Conference and Trade Show in Rotorua in September 2018,” Haszard says. “A number of attendees from Australia were intrigued by our product and indicated that it could work in their market.”
The team’s response has been typically precise. “We officially launched the TuffPlans® product in Australia on the first of February this year,” says Haszard. “We’ve negotiated supply agreements with two major Timber & Hardware groups: IHG (Mitre 10 Trade and Home Hardware Trade Stores) and Natbuild. These stores will be able to provide their builder clients with TuffPlans for their projects, whether they’re renovation jobs, single house builds, units, rest homes, institutional projects or larger multi-storey builds.”
An existing member of the NZ FTMA, TuffPlans has joined FTMA Australia as a Bronze Sponsor. Haszard is a big believer in the power of industry associations: “It’s been our experience that being a member of these organisations brings significant benefits in respect of communicating knowledge of our product to others in the industry.
“We’re attending the FTMA Conference on the Gold Coast in March with a trade display and hope to be able to make contact and talk directly to a large number of F&T managers from across Australia. This will be an ideal stage for us to fully launch the TuffPlans product onto the Australian F&T market.”
Despite the workload of a growing enterprise, Haszard still finds time to be an active member of the Whitford Park Golf Club in Auckland. “I’ve been happily married to Susan for 48 years, she’s also a keen golfer,” he says. “Our three adult sons are all involved in the wine and hospitality fields, one as a winemaker, another as a chef and our youngest as group sommelier for a major chain of Auckland restaurants.”
With the two older boys Australian citizens, foodies as well as plan users will benefit from visiting the Tuffplans stand and making Haszard’s acquaintance at the FTMA 2019 National Conference.