Taking advantage of a flexible funding solution that helps it serve an elite list of clients, Victorian business Trio Plumbing is well placed to build on decades of success.

For more than 25 years, Trio Plumbing has been thriving on the back of great management, workmanship and partnerships.

The Victorian business, operating out of its office and warehouse facility in Tullamarine, stands out in its market because it offers services across four divisions – commercial plumbing and roofing, architectural cladding and maintenance.

“We’ve got a few arms, which is an advantage,” says financial controller Debra Carthew. “Clients like our setup because we can often package up cladding, roofing and plumbing for a project. It’s a good mix for our business, too, because if one division isn’t as busy we can use the labour in another division.”

Debra says Trio Plumbing’s experienced estimators and project managers bring another key element to the table – personable relationships with builders. “Then we follow through and complete all the works on time and on budget, so builders are happy. We provide real quality.”


Always seeking an edge

Under the leadership of directors Peter Lord and Warren Hibberd, Trio Plumbing employs more than 100 staff and has blue-chip clients such as Melbourne Airport, Lendlease, John Holland, ADCO, Hansen Yuncken and Coleman Rail to name a few. It is also completing contracts for state government rail projects. Trio Plumbing is always looking to improve, and its strong market position has been boosted through a financing partnership with ScotPac since November 2017.

Trio Plumbing has two $1.5 million facilities with ScotPac. One is a Debtor Finance agreement for its maintenance division that acts as a line of credit linked to and secured by outstanding accounts receivable. This turns unpaid sales invoices into a quick flow of cash. The second is a Progress Claim Finance facility for their construction division. This solution is ideal for contracts under the Security of Payments Act, with funding provided against the progress claims to unlock cashflow and fuel further growth as the work is completed.

Debra says one of the most attractive features of ScotPac’s offering is that Trio Plumbing’s invoices and equipment can be used as security and a means to maximise the value of the business, as opposed to putting the family home on the line through bank funding. “We get the security of cashflow we need, and ScotPac have security because they have our debtors invoicing.


Growing together

Debra says early in the piece ScotPac could see the potential of partnering with Trio Plumbing because of its proven history of delivering major projects for quality clients, despite the volatility of the construction sector.

“We’ve dealt with our client base for many years and we’re also doing a great deal of government work,” she says. “ScotPac appreciate that we have great clients who pay on time.”

The ScotPac facilities also deliver flexibility of financing. Debra explains, for example, that Trio Plumbing may have to invoice a client for up to $600,000 over the course of a few weeks, even though that client may be limited to payments of just $100,000. Such a scenario can lead to cash-flow headaches, and she says ScotPac’s “very personable and understanding” national manager has become a real trusted partner in helping Trio deal with this.

“We negotiated with ScotPac so we can receive funding for that particular client. Because they make the effort to understand us and really partner with us it’s a lot more flexible than dealing with banks.


A lasting legacy

A 21-year mainstay of Trio Plumbing, Debra says many other employees have had 15-year-plus stints at the business, highlighting its focus on loyalty and relationships. Trio Plumbing also values its ties with ScotPac, which draws on 30 years of experience lending exclusively to SMEs. She is impressed that her ScotPac manager takes the time to forge relationships and fully explain products and facilities before signing off on deals.

“He has supported us to ensure we are getting the most out of the facility (and) is always assisting us to ensure the facility runs smoothly,” Debra says. “He’s proactive at short notice when we need extra help.”

Despite market volatility because of the COVID-19 crisis, Debra is confident that Trio Plumbing has all the key elements in place to fulfil its business goals and build its legacy. Getting cash-flow certainty from ScotPac is one of the keys.

“With ScotPac we put in an invoice and we’re funded really quickly,” she says. “I don’t have to worry whether a client is going to pay next week. I’ve already got the money.”