Signs that things have turned around for Australian manufacturers: Wesbeam boss

Engineered wood products company Wesbeam has posted an improved result for the last financial year and said it believes conditions have turned around.

The WA company, which manufactures laminated veneer lumber (LVL) from plantation pine, recorded an annual loss of $8.1 million for the 2013-2014 financial year, an improvement on the previous year’s $12 million loss.

CEO James Malone told The West Australian that the fallen dollar and reduced dumping in Australia by US companies – due that a stronger housing market in that country – had been beneficial.

"By my calculations, they were selling below the total delivery cost, and in some cases, below the cost of manufacture," he told The West Australian.

The reduced Australian dollar, which was trading at $US 0.822 at 7 am, had helped restore competitiveness, said the Wesbeam chief executive.

The dollar’s drop in the last nine months had “given heart” to the country’s manufacturers.

The increase in prices by American makers of building products as the US housing market strengthened had also been a positive.

"We had our first inquiry for a significant volume into the US this week," said Malone.

Wesbeam makes timber products laminated with phenolic adhesives. The grains of layered wood in LVL run longitudinally, unlike plywood (which has alternating perpendicularly arranged layers).