Stirling Machinery has turned to its customers to get the message out about their product. Its first production with Thor’s Hammer in the ACT shows just how strong a story timber can tell.
One of the biggest trends in advertising over the past few years is the movement towards narrative, where information is replaced by a story. Done well, it gets across everything a traditional ad can and, done authentically, it can connect with the viewer far more effectively than the old infomercial style.
Stirling Machinery has gone down exactly this path with its new series of ‘Stirling Presents’ short documentaries. Although the young company is already building a solid reputation for quality product and service, it’s operating in a part of the market that has multiple strong players. While technical specifications and cost matter, it’s the relationship with the supplier that often ends up swinging purchasing decisions, and so Stirling has set about showing the strength of its relationships.
The first video features Thor’s Hammer at their new Griffith, ACT, premises. The ‘Hammer Crew’ operate a joinery, sawmill and recycled timber yard where they turn recycled timbers into furniture, kitchens, commercial fit-outs and multiple other high-value uses, all with sustainable practices and minimal waste, even down to making fire briquettes from the sawdust.
Led by Thor Diesendorf, the close-knit crew start each day with a game of handball before they get to work. When Craig Honeyman, Stirling’s managing director, came down to install their new four-sided moulder, he was caught up in the joy of the workplace. He talked to Jarryd Biddle, Stirling’s marketing manager, and the idea for Stirling Presents was born.
“At the end of the day, everything we do is about our customers,” says Biddle. “We always say we’re not about selling machines, we’re about understanding our customers. Initially that meant understanding their challenges and capabilities so we could help them improve efficiencies and capture new markets, but it’s just as true in terms of marketing. If we focus on them, they have so many amazing stories we can tell.”
Diesendorf started the company in 1994 and has attracted a team of like-minded people over the years. “We all get on really well,” he says. “That’s the important thing for me when I’m choosing new staff, to find people that will fit into the team – being good at handball is optional!”
The staff were happy to talk about their work and the machinery they use, so a day’s filming was scheduled. “Jarryd and his team were really good,” Diesendorf says. “They kept it low key and didn’t interfere with our productivity. The people they interviewed just took out half an hour each to chat. I like the informal way it was done – that bled through to the feel of the video when you watch it.”
The resulting nine-minute video tells the story of the company at its new site – “We’ve tried to set it up doing the best job we could with everything we’ve learned over the years at our old set-up,” says Diesendorf – and while it does feature Stirling Machinery, it mostly celebrates the joy of making beautiful things from quality timbers.
The content has also been repackaged as a thank you for Thor’s Hammer to use in their marketing. “We were there for 10 hours,” says Biddle, “and I know how under the pump timber processors are, so we didn’t want to waste any of their production. We’ve offered them eight short videos that focus on them, plus high-res team photos and video they can boost on their website and socials.”
While the Thor’s Hammer team already has an impressive image library, some of the companies Biddle has lined up for future videos are traditional firms that will benefit greatly from the marketing materials, as well as some famous names.
“We’ve got Ryan & McNulty in Benalla, who are on the VAFI board, and then Franz Building Supplies, over in WA,” Biddle says. “So there are really diverse stories we’re going to unpack. For Thor, their story is really about sustainability and their no-waste philosophy, then some of the guys we’re going to be seeing are more traditional timber processors where it’s a real family-driven operation. We’re looking to focus on another operation where they employ a lot of differently abled people in their workforce, too. I’m not from the timber industry but, coming from the outside, one thing I’ve noticed is how many great stories there are.”
Diesendorf remains impressed by the way the process shared the firms’ strengths. “I think it’s awesome to see companies working together like this,” he says.
Image: Thor Diesendorf, with one of his handmade tables and a selection of the recycled timbers that are used in the company’s work.