THERE has been mega demand for mega-sized storage sheds across rural Western Australia.
And - to most - it would come as no surprise, given last year's record breaking harvest and the zealous machinery market.
Over the past 18 months, farmers have decided to invest in new infrastructure to help protect and secure some of their biggest and most valuable assets.
Now Buildings national wholesale manager Trevor Walker reported growth of 60 per cent in his business from 2020.
He said WA farmers wanted bigger sheds to match their choice in machinery.
"One of the trends we are starting to see is higher and wider machinery," Mr Walker said.
"So we are aware our designs need to accommodate that and therefore have increased building sizes to suit."
Coincidentally, the surge in demand coincided with skyrocketing global steel prices and left the Australian steel market under immense pressure.
Further headaches were caused by COVID-forced closures of a number of steel plants, as well as major supply and shipping disruptions.
Mr Walker said less production coupled with massive global demand for steel increased prices by 40pc.
He said this had impacted wait-times, which blew out to about 12 weeks by the end of last year.
This has since come back to about six to seven weeks for new orders.
"It is all starting to settle down now," Mr Walker said.
"Orders lodged today should be out by early May.
"Normally we like to get things out in four weeks, but all-in-all it isn't bad, it was a lot worse."
Having supplied rural WA for 13 years, Now Buildings has experienced steady growth over time.
But nothing like what Mr Walker has seen in the past 18 months.
He said another contributing factor was COVID had very little impact on the rural customers, who make up 90pc of the business' client base.
"Customers of mine have said, 'Hey Trev, I've been self-isolating out here for the last 50 years'.
"So they haven't been majorly affected."
Mr Walker said the record harvest had generated a lot of activity, as had record amounts of machinery purchases.
He said if people purchased $500,000 to $750,000 worth of machinery it would "be crazy" to leave it out in the temperamental weather.
A hike in fertiliser prices has also seen some graingrowers buy larger amounts for storage.
"Storing hay and fodder has been a big thing in some areas," Mr Walker said.
"There have also been some good incentives on buying hay or fodder sheds with tax write-offs.
"So it really is a combination of factors that have caused the increase in demand."
Mr Walker said with the demand had also come a number of challenges, which had been heightened by the pandemic.
As well as unprecedented steel prices, he said there had been issues in the supply chain.
"There could be one key component in the whole chain that isn't there and therefore can't be sourced," he said.
"This then slows everything down on the entire farm.
"In Australia, with our own steel supply, there has been a coil shortage.
"All of our sheeting for the roofs and walls are rolled out with coils, so if you have a shortage it is going to slow everything down."
Wheatbelt Steel, based in Northam, has also experienced massive demand for massive sheds in the past 18 months.
Wheatbelt Steel operations manager Bev Gannon said the flow of business had been steady and constant with a five-month wait-time on orders.
She said customers wanted sheds for general purpose, workshops and machinery, as well as fertiliser, hay and fodder.
"Everyone is going bigger in infrastructure," Ms Gannon said.
"Orders have been for larger sheds due to the necessity to provide cover for machinery.
"Farmers are ordering higher structures for fertiliser sheds with concrete panels, so they can reverse back, tip the truck and drive out with ease."
With the ongoing trend of "bigger is better" in agriculture, Wheatbelt Steel always tells their customers to size up.
"I have never heard anyone say, 'I should have gone smaller'," Ms Gannon said.
"Instead it is, 'I wish I had added another few bays on' - that's what I hear constantly."
Similarly, to others in the industry, Wheatbelt Steel has faced several challenges in supply chain issues and sourcing crucial materials including steel.
It has also been up against issues with transport including "getting the product via rail and shipping".
Ms Gannon said it was important to "work your way through" the challenging COVID times.
She said Wheatbelt Steel always looked ahead and planned for the future with a long-term approach to supply in business.
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