Flex-Ability Concepts recently prepared one of its regular shipments to Pro Plaster Products in Capalaba, Queensland, Australia. Pro Plaster faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 because it, like so many companies, relies on shipments from China and the United States that were slowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has addressed this by increasing stock levels to be prepared for a successful 2021, and Flex-Ability Concepts—a 22-year partner—is ready to help.

Pro Plaster was founded about 30 years ago with a unique business model: to give plasterers the tools they need to get the job done with the right products at the right price. The company also is the only independent manufacturer of plastering compounds that are shipped internationally. A search for the right products to distribute in Australia brought Perry Richardson, the director of Pro Plaster, to a Flex-Ability Concepts booth at the 1998 AWCI show (now called INTEX) in Reno, Nev.

“Perry came to our booth to learn more about our products and asked if we would be interested in shipping to Australia for international representation,” says Frank Wheeler, an owner of Flex-Ability Concepts. “This meeting created an opportunity to spread our reach globally with a professional partner who has been a pleasure to work with for more than 20 years.”

The latest shipment from Flex-Ability Concepts arrived in Australia in December 2020 and included various widths of Flex-C Trac, including some made exclusively for the Australian market. Flex-C Trac is used to create curved walls, ceilings, soffits, arches, S curves and interior domes. For installation, the desired arch/curve is drawn on a hard or concrete surface. Flex-C Trac is placed on top of the drawn line and curved by hand to match the curve on the ground. With Flex-C Trac sitting on the ground, the Hammer-Lock tabs are hammered into place to embed them, thereby locking the shape. Screws can be added for additional support if desired, usually in load bearing situations.

“We strive to bring products to market that make jobs easier for plasterers by challenging the status quo,” Richardson says. “When contractors see Flex-C Trac, they know it will make their jobs more efficient and safer. We make it a priority to learn about projects that have curves or arches specified in the design so we can get these framing products into contractors’ hands. Once they know about Flex-C Trac, they don’t stop using it.”

The use of curves in design is cyclical. In Australia, curved ceilings and soffits currently are popular in the retail and hospitality markets. Going back 10-15 years, archways and curves could be seen in every new residential project. While everyone waits for another design shift to see what is coming next, the 2020 Australian construction market turned out better than anyone could have expected when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. Construction was deemed essential and work continued in most markets as Australia became an international example of how to properly handle the pandemic by shutting down to stop the spread of the virus (Australia reports 909 COVID-19 deaths as of Jan. 20). The pace of work was slower for commercial construction because certain segments, like retail, were closed due to the pandemic. The residential market, however, is hot in part because of a government initiative. In June 2020, the government announced eligible Australians could receive $25,000 to build a new home or renovate existing homes. This initiative was created to keep contractors employed and to bring a surge to the construction industry. The Flex-Ability Concepts product line is available for both commercial and residential construction.

Over the years, the Flex-Ability Concepts shipments have changed a bit in amount and how the containers are packaged, but the relationship between Pro Plaster and Flex-Ability Concepts has remained stably strong for 22 years. Richardson says, “We work well together and resolve issues easily. For more than 20 years, this partnership has been a good fit for us.”