Taps, Tubs & Tiles

Providing quality products, backed by experience, to the Red Centre

Taps, Tubs & Tiles first opened their doors in the early 80’s in the iconic Australian outback town of Alice Springs.

Suzanne Bitar, a young mother and wife of a successful local tiler thought there may be a way of earning some extra money and still be available to give her young family the attention they needed during their formative years.

Even though her experience in the building supplies industry was virtually nil, she took the brave step and branched out into the tile supply business.

Now, 30 years on, Taps, Tubs & Tiles has grown into a thriving business providing quality products to most of the Red Centre. Their customers range from Uluru resorts to remote cattle stations, from Aboriginal communities to multi-national mining corporations. The mining and tourist boom has seen “The Alice” rapidly expand over that time, and Taps, Tubs & Tiles has grown with it.

Suzanne had a working knowledge of tiles and an interest in the design and supply of bathroom fixtures and fittings and, shortly after it opened, Kym St James joined the business bringing with him a good background in commercial and trade plumbing fittings, as well as a great relationship with the local tradesmen. Kym is still at the helm of the business today and such is his standing in the industry he was recently elected to the Board of the Plumbtec buying group.

If Kym is Suzanne’s right hand man, surely the left hand is Bernie Nethery. Bernie held the reputation of being a whizz at designing watering systems and basically anything to do with pumps. This skill is critical in the arid outback where water is life. Bernie was a good mate of Kym’s and after some “gentle” persuasion, he joined. Today Bernie has grown the project side of Taps, Tubs & Tiles into a major branch of the company.

As the company expanded, so did their need for a practical computer system. With Kym and Suzanne’s guidance, local programmer Graham Mintern developed a system for Taps, Tubs & Tiles to specifically service their requirements. That system has worked brilliantly for the sales side for many years and provided all the information for the MYOB accounting system used in the back office.

Unfortunately for Taps, Tubs & Tiles, Graham decided to pursue a teaching career and moved from the Alice to Darwin. Although he still supports the system, he found the task of developing new features for the software eating into the time required for lesson preparation so he reluctantly had to choose between teaching and software development.

Suzanne says, “We had to do something quite quickly because if anything happened to Graham we would be left stranded.” So came the difficult task of choosing a replacement system. The choice was narrowed down to a couple of purpose developed industry packages.

“…Sterland provided a quality product, backed by industry specialist trainers and consultants.”

Finally the decision was made to go with Sterland’s ProStix, mainly because of Sterland’s close working relationship and presence within the Plumbtec Group. Suzanne says “I took great comfort from the fact that ProStix was being used by many of the Plumbtec members, companies like Routleys, Bentons, Eastcoast and Bowens had used ProStix for many years. During the recent Plumbtec Conference, I spoke with users and received assurance that Sterland provided a quality product backed by industry specialist trainers and consultants. We needed the system to be implemented correctly and in an acceptable timeframe because Bunnings are coming to town. That is great for The Alice but it will put pressure on us and we want to be ready.”

Suzanne continues, “We then had the problem of sourcing a server. Sterland came to the rescue and had a server built to our exact requirements and brought it up to the Alice when they did their consulting discovery visit; saved us over $1,000 in transportation costs. The installation is happening now but on-going hardware support will be provided by a local provider with support from the Sterland guys.”

Suzanne concludes, “The challenge is now in front of us. Changes will have to be made and people will have to embrace these changes. This won’t be easy because most of us have operated the same way for the last 20 years on a system written for us but it is the way of the future.”