Enviro builder quits Wonthaggi

INNOVATIVE modular building company ArchiBlox will close its Wonthaggi premises by the end of the month, leaving 50 local workers in limbo.
Employees were informed late last week of the decision to close the local worksite.
Bill McCorkell from ArchiBlox said the move was in the best interest of the company’s financial future.
“From our point of view we are not shutting down, rather we are going from strength to strength.
“Economically speaking the business can be strengthened by being based in Melbourne,” Mr McCorkell said.
“We are really sad to be leaving the local community, but an opportunity has arisen in Melbourne.
“We have given the opportunity for current traders and suppliers to still work with us, and we are still working on several projects in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires.”
All direct employees of ArchiBlox have been given four weeks’ notice, as well as the opportunity to move with the company to the new Laverton premises.
However, considering the 154km distance between Wonthaggi and Laverton, it’s not surprising that only a small number of administration staff are staying with the company.
Facility manager at ArchiBlox, Kim O’Connor, said that it was difficult to say how many people would be directly affected by last week’s decision.
“Overall we have around 50 people involved, but not all of them are direct employees,” Kim said.
“We have a lot of subcontractors, such as plumbers and electricians. It’s still a fairly big impact on the town from an employment perspective, but a lot of the guys will still be employed on various sites, and will be contracted on other jobs in the future.”
ArchiBlox has had a Wonthaggi premises for five years, and is involved as builders of The Cape project, which they will are contracted with until the completion of the project.
ArchiBlox is renowned for their affordable and sustainable modular housing, born from a collaboration between architect Bill McCorkell and local Inverloch builder Dave Martin.
The sustainable modular architecture spans from residential, beach housing, rural homes, urban houses, inner city, granny flats, and multi-residential buildings.
ArchiBlox was announced as a preferred builder for Cape Paterson’s The Cape project.
As Australia’s first sustainable residential project, The Cape will be constructing 219 home sites, with a focus on open spaces, walking, cycling and environmental home living. The response from across the community regarding the closure of the Wonthaggi premises has been that of shock and sadness.
Dee Connell from the Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association said that while she had limited information about the closure, it was a sad day for employment in Wonthaggi.
“This is certainly disappointing, especially considering how strong the building industry is in town. It’s a shame we couldn’t keep them longer,” Ms Connell said.
Economic Development manager at the Bass Coast Shire, Peter Francis, said the closure is disappointing for the future of the shire.
“It’s not good for the town, especially as ArchiBlox is the kind of employment and business that we want in the town, with their eco-friendly focus,” Mr Francis said.
“At one stage Archiblox had 16 modules they were working on from the Wonthaggi premises, and now I don’t think they have any.
“Some employees have already found other work, but at this early stage it’s difficult to judge what the employment impact will be.
“From the council’s point of view, we will try to continue to support local companies as much as we can.”