New life for old sheds
A chippy from a Williams sheep farm has been constructing a niche business off the resurgence in the wool market.
Chad Lavender has gained work totalling more than $1 million restoring old shearing sheds through word of mouth and after placing an advertisement in Countryman three weeks ago.
Mr Lavender said his business, Chippy Chad & Co, started three years ago doing home renovations, but coming from a country background, he tried to stay rurally focused.
“I did some hay sheds, and that led me on to do shearing sheds,” he said. “When I realised shearing sheds were full of carpentry, I became enthusiastic about specialising in them and building a name as offering a specialised restoration service.
“I did a shearing shed at Atlas Farms in Calingiri, and the shearing contractor there recommended me for a restoration project on (former WA Governor) Malcolm McCusker’s Martindale farm at New Norcia.”
Mr Lavender said he was working on a shed at Glencoe, Mr McCusker’s farm at Bindoon, and had future projects lined up in Tambellup, Mount Barker and Mingenew.
Glencoe’s shearing shed has been undergoing a major upgrade, both inside and out.
“Last year was a well above-average season for most farmers, which has allowed many of them to invest in old infrastructure,” he said.
“A lot of shearing sheds around WA are not up to standard. I have come across 30 to 40-year-old sheds that have not been maintained and are being held up by the sheep manure underneath the building, with the stumps rotted away.”
Mr Lavender said farmers wanted modern facilities with a little bit of “bling”. He said he also worked closely with clients to improve on-site safety.
“The safety side of the industry is becoming extremely important,” he said.
“In the last 50 years, people have worked in sheds that would be below legislated standards.
“I make sure everything is up to standard with first aid kits, no smoking signs and designated smoking and lunch-room areas.
“It’s not necessarily going to add extra cost, it’s more about knowing the right products to give the shed some extra polish.”
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