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2003 – 2023

Our journey

Our journey started in 2003 with a belief that there had to be a smarter way to build.

We’re a proudly Australian family-owned company with a long history of constant innovation. We were founded on the belief in constant innovation and combining the smarts of manufacturing with the old school know how of building.

Our roots

Old school building wisdom

Austruss was founded by husband and wife team, Andrew and Lisa Fowler.

Building is in Andrew’s blood. His father was a builder and he grew up on construction sites and living and breathing construction. Andrew’s driving force throughout his career comes from the words of his father and mentor: ‘try and go further than I did’ and this has shaped his career.

Our roots

Manufacturing smarts

Lisa has a background in finance and grew up in a manufacturing family. Her grandfather was an engineer and developed a business manufacturing gearboxes.

It is the combination of these two approaches – a love of construction and passion for the smarts of manufacturing that have served to create the Austruss secret formula.

2000 – The turning point

A bad experience with termites

A carpenter by trade and MBA NSW Apprentice of the Year in 1992, Andrew made the unusual shift from timber to steel in 2000. This happened when he discovered that the formwork for the new family home they were about to build in Sandy Point in Sydney had been destroyed by white ants. In this moment he realised that the bones of a building needed greater resilience to survive the challenges of the Australian environment and this became his personal and professional turning point.


The stud machine

Andrew and Lisa had been running their own building company and based on personal experience Andrew decided that steel frames and trusses had to be the best way to go in the Australian environment as they were the only material that was termite proof, inert and would withstand whatever you threw at it.

Andrew decided to learn all about steel and went to Dubbo to be mentored by one of the leaders in the steel frame industry, Arthur Hoskin. Arthur later sold Andrew the first ‘stud machine’ and the Austruss business was underway.


Building a team

In 2003 Andrew and Lisa decided that the best place to create a business was in the  Southern Highlands of NSW as it was strategically placed between Canberra and Sydney.

Andrew took six months long service leave and decided to try his hand and starting a new business in steel frames and trusses. In a bold move, they relocated their young family to a property with a large shed where the business could operate from. 

Austruss starts with two staff members and leased premises at 17a Drapers Road Braemar. The first two roll formers were purchased from Custom Steel and the team began producing welded steel frames. 

It was difficult to break into the commercial market at the time, so the business began life with a main focus on the residential market.

(Yes, and we started the kids early … it was always a family affair)


Our first project

Austruss’ first project was a steel frame residential project in the southern highlands. Andrew and a couple of carpenter mates worked out how to build the steel frame house, and we’re proud to say it still stands strong today.


The first factory

As a young start-up business it was difficult to obtain a lease. Luckily a fellow steel manufacture (Roy Beaumont from Spantec) had a small industrial shed at the back of his own factory complex and gave us a short-term lease with a couple of months of rent grace to get us started.

We grew quickly and needed to add a number of outbuildings to expand the operations.  Fortunately our landlord was tolerant of our growing pains!  The factory served us well. The boardroom was a converted shipping container and our office was a transportable mobile home with the bedrooms converted to offices!


Going commercial

Our first commercial project was for an aged care facility in Goulburn for Zadro Constructions.

This was also the first time we created a logo. It was a bull with the tagline ‘steel frames with grunt’ and it was bright orange to represent the newly introduced ‘hi-vis’ that was used throughout the construction industry for safety.

The story goes that Andrew wanted a kangaroo for the logo to represent being Australian-made and speed and agility, but they could only find clip art of a bull at the time and there wasn’t the budget to get a kangaroo  illustrated, so the first logo was  a bull!


We've got wheels

We realised that transport and installation was key. Most timber frames and trusses businesses would just make your frames and drop them off – no care for the end result. But our building background meant that we wanted to ensure that our work would stand the test of time, and the only way we could do that was to manage the delivery and install. So we bought our first truck. We still have it.


Building the Education Revolution

In response to the Global Financial Crisis, the Australian Government embarked on the BER program, and fortunately for Austruss we were in the right place at the right time.

Austruss was specified to supply all BER projects in the Illawarra region, This meant that the team manufactured and installed over 250 school buildings and the team expanded to 50 staff. 

At this point Austruss made the move out of residential supply of frames to focus on the commercial market due to unprecedented demand in commercial school framing.





Quakers Hill Nursing Home

In 2011, disaster struck when fire engulfed the Quakers Hill Aged Care Facility in Sydney. Tragically 11 lives were lost. This led to the implementation of new laws in the construction industry around fire ratings and prevention. 

Austruss took this as an opportunity to pivot and develop fire rated framing solutions to give the business an edge.

As a result, Austruss was engaged to rebuild the Quakers Hill Aged Care Facility. 


Custom built factory

In 2012 we made the move to build our own custom-built factory.

It was a big call, but we had a pipeline of work and realised that we needed more space and equipment to do the work.

Australia was experiencing a mining boom at the time and this created a skilled labour shortage. As a result there were no welders available as they were all getting paid large amounts to work in the mines.

Out of necessity we realised we needed to find a way to semi-automate the production lines so we purchased roll formers which meant that our steel frames no longer needed to be welded and could be secured by screws instead.


Excellence in Manufacturing Award

Austruss was humbled to win the Excellence for Manufacturing Award at the  Southern Highlands Business Awards for Excellence.

This was definitely a moment for the team and it signified a recognition of all of the years of hard work.


A leap of faith

In 2015, the former Comeng Train Manufacturing site came up for sale. Just around the corner from the existing Austruss factory it was the site where trains had been manufactured since the 1970’s.

With rail access, 8000 square metres under cover and a site spanning 5.7 hectares Andrew and Lisa saw an opportunity. It was a big risk, but it would mean that the business could expand. With some small miracle they managed to purchase the site and then begin to transform it into a full blown steel frames, trusses and design for manufacture facility.


Bathroom pods

The new factory meant that Austruss now had the size and scale to expand into new areas. Always seeking ways to innovate, Andrew could see that there was an opportunity to explore modular and prefab construction.

The first step in this process was the experimentation with bathroom pods. With rigorous testing and research Austruss produced it’s first bathroom pod in 2015 for the Camperdown Student Accommodation project.


The modular experiment

This was an extremely inventive time in the Austruss history,  Andrew extended the thinking from bathroom pods to a complete aged care module which was a fully fire-rated compartment, designed to meet demand for aged care facilities combined with the lessons from the Quakers Hill project.

Our discovery was that the modular pod system was not suitable for the Australian market at the time. Clients needed flexibility rather than a standardised approach and from this, the hybrid approach evolved, and our Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) was born using prefabricated building elements.


Testing the limits of steel

In 2018, Austruss was asked to create a structure for the Strathfield Golf Club. This was a challenging project to say the least.

The architectural design by Altis Architecture was all curves and the challenge was to realise the architectural vision of such a complex structure. We designed a completely bespoke structure and our alternative light gauge steel design saved the client over $300K and 50 tonnes in steel.


Macarthur Private Hospital

This project is where we first started to push the limits of DfMA and prefab. The brief involved the construction of the hospital alongside the existing facility with minimal disruption to patients.

To achieve this we worked out how to break the building down into elements so that as much construction as possible could take place off-site to ensure minimal impact on the existing facility. The core elements of the project included: façade panelisation, floor cassettes ready for suspended concrete, prefab wall frames and bathroom pods.

The project saved the client five weeks. The DfMA build method allowed the project to have minimal impact on patients.  The success of this project allowed us to explore further methods of panelisation.



The  DfMA approach began to gain market acceptance and the business began to take on larger projects. As a result, we realised that we needed to expand our manufacturing capability and install a new wall panelisation line in the factory to speed our production of light gauge prefabricated wall and floor cassette systems. To buy this machinery new would cost millions of dollars, so Andrew did his research and found a second hand machine in Estonia of all places.

Andrew travelled to Estonia to inspect the machine, which was originally designed for timber wall panels – however with a bit of ingenuity we realised it could be adapted to manufacture steel wall panels.

The machine was shipped back to Australia and installed. This gave us a new level of speed, quality and efficiency – our holy grail of manufacturing!


Smalls Road Public School

The Smalls Road Public School project was a shining example of speed, quality and efficiency. This entire project was installed by three people and a crane – quite a feat considering the size and scale of the project. By breaking the project into sections and then prototyping those sections in the factory, the team were able to overcome the labour shortage issues that were plaguing the sector at the time.

The market was at a peak of the ‘perfect storm’ Andrew had predicted in a presentation he made at the Modcon ANZ conference in 2015. He foresaw that the market pressures of fewer/ageing skilled workers combined with lack of market knowledge, quality issues, safety risks and a large pipeline of work would lead to the ‘perfect storm’ in the construction industry.

This had definitely come to a head in 2019, and as a result the DfMA approach began to make serious sense on many levels.



Disaster response

In 2020 the COVID pandemic hit globally and everything changed.

As part of the disaster response Austruss was approached to help create a fully functioning medical facility in the nation’s capital in just 36 days. The team came to the party and designed, built and transported a kit of parts system that meant that the building was up and functioning in record time.

The project also used a circular economy approach – so upon the end of use, it could be dismantled, packed into shipping containers and moved to another location or country and re-used again.

metres of steel

We have a huge amount of experience.

tonnes of steel saved

Through our use of light gauge steel and DfMA approach we’ve saved kilometres of steel.

projects completed

With over 20 years of experience we’ve completed hundreds of projects in every sector.

claims on retention

Quality and integrity is at the heart of what we do. In our more than 20 year history we’ve had zero claims on retention – something we take as a badge of honour.


Austruss turns 20!

In 2023 Austruss celebrated a big milestone – turning 20!

In those 20 years the business has grown from a small start-up into a business that has completed over 850 projects and $150M worth of work. We can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring!

A new secondary logo also emerged … after 20 years, Andrew got his kangaroo!