A family’s passion for the steel reinforcement industry

In 1995 Terry Stokes decided “it was time to do something on my own”. After 20 years working with Albion Steel, a wire making business, he started a concrete reinforcing supply company in a small factory in Seven Hills, NSW.  

Active Steel is a family business. Terry’s son, David, came to work with his father 12 months into the new venture. Four years later, Terry’s daughter, Melanie joined the company. Helen Stokes, Terry’s wife, celebrated her retirement in January 2018 after 23 years working alongside her family.

Terry is a ‘real’ steel man – proud, modest, friendly, and straight to the point. “You’re dealing with a company that is passionate about the industry. Your requirements will be looked after by people who really care”, said Terry when I asked him what separates Active Steel from other reinforcing steel suppliers.

The business is based in St. Marys, NSW, where they process bar and prefabricate pile cages. They operate a bar processing facility in Penrith, NSW, and in 2008, the Stokes family opened a bar processing and prefabrication facility in Crestmead, QLD.

“We’re set up to service the commercial and multi-level residential building markets”, said David Stokes, General Manager. “Our customers are loyal to us and we’re loyal to our suppliers”. Terry described their customer and supplier relationships “like a marriage”.   

The family take pride in their customer service and attention to detail. For example, to make it easier for steel fixers to identify and assemble steel reinforcement on site the company developed a colour coded bar tag system. “Although it costs us more to use different coloured tags, it saves time for the steel fixer. It’s how we differentiate”, said Melanie, Administration & Contracts Manager.

As our conversation draws to an end, I ask Terry, David and Melanie if there is anything else, they would like me to mention. “The biggest problem with our industry are companies offering uncertified product”, said Terry. “They’re not testing the quality of their product but supplying mill certificates with no traceability back to the bar or mesh they supply to the builder”.  

Active Steel’s bar and mesh is 3rd party certified to comply with Australian Standards by ACRS (Australian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels).

Watch NSW Premier - Gladys Berejiklian's speech at Active Steel

By John McCarl