IN 2008 John Richardson realised he had a problem.
His 2500 hectare family farm was not large enough to sustain his four sons, so an alternative option was required.
In an attempt to focus on a product category he and his boys were already familiar with, Mr Richardson realised that as a third-generation farmer, he knew a thing or two about sheds.
So after some research and a few helpful tips from some mates over east, a legacy of structural steel buildings was born.
It was February 2009 when the original premises at Corbett Street, Gnowangerup, was established, and the company began trading as Auspex Steel.
The first shed that rolled off the production was, believe it or not, delivered to the customer by forklift.
That customer was the next-door neighbour, is still the next door neighbour, and they were in attendance at the recent launch of the company's new 4000 square metre factory and offices in Gnowangerup.
In those early days, in addition to the design and construction of sheds, the company was also involved in componentry work, creating machinery parts for other manufacturing businesses in the area.
It was around this time the company produced its first 40m clear span truss shed, which, while a milestone for the business at the time, is something that has now been produced many times since.
By 2012 the business had built a larger office at the original factory and had grown to a team of 10, with the rebrand from Auspex Steel to AUSPAN taking place the following year.
At this stage the company was building about 50 sheds a year, a number which has been steadily increasing every year.
The launch of AUSPAN's commercial design and construct division took place in 2018, and with several exciting building projects due for completion in 2023, and many others currently in the pipeline, this area of the business has seen the group continue to expand further into the commercial, industrial and mining sectors.
In 2020 the company reached another milestone with the completion of job 1000 and this month will see the business put the finishing touches to its 1435th shed.
Since its inception the group has produced more than 367,230m2 of structural steel buildings, and the pace at which these are produced is only set to increase, as the production capability of the new factory reaches its full potential.
This new facility will result in a doubling of the internal fabrication capacity.
While it is exciting for the business to be moving into these relatively new areas, the team never forgets where it came from, and the agricultural market remains a strong focus.
Having worked on projects for the likes of CJD, Hancock Agriculture, AFGRI Equipment, Nutrien Ag Solutions and the Katanning Sheep Saleyards, (the largest sheep saleyards in the southern hemisphere) and countless other clients, the team enjoys the work it does with the WA farming community.
Perhaps the biggest milestone in the company's relatively short but prolific history, is the completion this month of job 140.
If you've been paying attention, you're probably scratching your head at this point thinking, "didn't that job start about 10 years ago?" and you'd be correct.
Job 140 has taken on an almost mythical status among the AUSPAN team, having been conceived not long after the company started.
Construction began in February 2022, and just two days shy of the company's 14th anniversary early this month, the opening event for AUSPAN's new factory and offices in Gnowangerup took place.
It's been an incredible ride for the Richardson family and the ever-growing AUSPAN team, and it's great to see what can emerge from a small town in WA's Great Southern.
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