Speculative media reports linking the suicide of Metricon co-founder Mario Biasin to a potential company collapse have forced acting managing director Peter Langfelder (pictured, top) to go public with a defence.
The rumours, he said, are baseless, the company in “a strong position”, with all contracts profitable, room to move on debt and payments to contractors, employees and suppliers up to date.
A pre-organised meeting to discuss industry issues with the state government (which is getting together with about a dozen builders for this purpose), has wrongly been assumed a crisis-talk regarding insolvency, he added.
“It is business as usual,” according to the executive – who took over Mr Biasin’s role on Monday.
Business grieving: Langfelder
“This is an extremely difficult time for our business, we’ve just lost the co-founder…and we’re dealing with the grief,” Mr Langfelder said at a press conference yesterday.
“Our business has been very strong for 45 years and will continue for a long time to come,” he added.
“We have an incredibly strong management team and fantastic staff, tradies and suppliers who have been loyal with us for many years,” according to the executive.
“We have the support of our banks…all our tradies are paid as of today, on time and in full…and all our suppliers were in the same boat.
“All I can say is we remain strong and to please bear with us as we go through this grieving period”.
Several suppliers have come out to back Metricon on social media, particularly with stories of prompt payment, in a move to change sentiment stemming from the news items (story continues below).
Some have teamed to run advertisements from this weekend supporting the company, including CarpetCall, Chromagen, Civic Shower Screens & Wardrobes, Cosentino, CSR Habel, Dekton, Dulux, Hafele, G&S Lightweight, Inalto, Laminex, Lovelight, Lumi, National Tiles, Perfect Timber Floors, Reece, Residentia Group, S&A Stairs and Teka.
Building industry challenges
The construction industry has been hammered since the pandemic with material and labour costs rising, and supply short.
It is also feared increasing interest rates could affect consumer demand in the short and medium term.
Metricon has a c$195m state government contract, part of the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build (social housing) package; the developer is not believed to have increased that price with treasurer Tim Pallas yesterday.
However, it’s understood it has been working in recent months with Sayers Group, directed by Carlton Football Club president, Luke Sayers, to help deal with unexpected expenses – as similar groups have done during the pandemic.
According to the Housing Industry Association, Metricon completed 6052 dwellings last year – up from 4354 in 2020 – making it the country’s biggest home builder.
Its development pipeline is running at about 4000 – with projects in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia – and it employs 2500 full time staff.
As well as Mr Langfelder stepping up, the Mount Waverley based company temporarily appointed Ross Palazzesi to Mr Biasin’s executive chair position.
Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.