How l got here
– Mark Behnecke
When you come up with crazy ideas all the time you need three very important things:
1. A very understanding wife
2. A very understanding daughter, and
3. The courage to act on your ideas so they become reality, not just a dream.
In early 2001 at the young age of 33 l finally decided to act on one of my ideas, not just dream about them.
That idea was called the “DECKKING TOOL”. I made the original spacing tool l made from an off-cut piece of decking, with 3mm nails coming out of the bottom every 90mm, which created the spacing between the decking boards and a 90x45 off cut piece of pine that formed the handle. Two friends, (Symo, Wazza) and l used it to assist laying decking boards one weekend at Wazza’s house. It cut nearly 50% off our normal install time. The following Monday l rang a lawyer, we patented the idea and within 8 months we had CAD drawings done, tooling made, and an order for the tool placed in China. You might say the finished product was slightly better than the original. Stanley Tools loved our product that much they launched it under their brand – we sold 4,500 units in the first 3 months, but unfortunately, our next patent bill was massive, so we had to let it go. (see image to the left). There is now a similar tool that is sold all over the world call “Speed deck”.
In 2002 just before my daughter was born, l boarded a plane and headed off to the USA. Whilst there, l bumped into my now great mate – Phil Hutt, (owner of “Decks by Design” in Sydney). What are the chances, two Aussie blokes’, half way around the world, in the same building, both there for different reasons, ending up sitting on the same table during a break in proceedings? It was Phil who would later convince me to expand my decking business, get off the tools and employ staff; a decision that would change the course of my business life. What a great mentor.
Prior to heading to the USA in 2002 l started my second business, “The Deckspert” which l would later change to “Decking out Melbourne”, changing the name enabled me to climb the google analytics tree. My goal back then was to become the best deck construction business in Melbourne, using a simple but effective business ethos – Quality, Service and Innovation. I wanted to build quality decks, give the best service l could and use innovation to separate me from the rest. Decking out Melbourne still operates today and is Melbourne’s premier deck building company, employing 6 staff and turning over $1,000,000 a year on average in revenue. Not bad for something l started on the weekends!
Five years later in 2007 l took my second trip to the USA to do more research on new and alternate decking products (composite decking) and their suppliers. Little did l know back then we would later become proud members of an organisation called NADRA (North American Deck and Rail Association) in 2014. Our business Decking out Melbourne would be the first deck construction company from outside North America and Canada to win numerous deck awards, including 1st place in one category. NADRA opened so many doors and broadened my knowledge, not only in deck construction, but also handrail.
In September 2017 after yet another trip to the USA my thirst to be innovative and push the boundaries grew stronger. I wanted to bend composite decking boards like the trailblazer – Jason Russell, AKA Dr Decks. So, in early 2018 l convinced my business partner to invest in heat blankets which had never been made before in Australia for this purpose. Jess and l would spend our weekends heating composite decking boards, destroying them, working out the perfect temperature and heating time and eventually perfecting the art of board bending. My aim was to introduce curved decking into the Australian market, and at the same time ensure we stayed ahead of the pack. Decking out Melbourne was lucky enough to be the first decking company to bend decking boards on national TV, through a reality show called “Buying Blind”.
Everyday the urge to innovate grew stronger and stronger, until l could no longer resist.
By the end of 2018 l needed a new challenge.
I agreed in terms with my partner to sell him my share of Decking out Melbourne and pursue my new dream,
Illuminated Balustrade Australia.
Fast forward to 2019.
After 18 plus months of research, 4.00am conversations with colleagues from the other side of the world, endless discussions, trials and failures, and the quest to once again bring something new to the table – Illuminated Balustrade Australia was established.
Illuminated Balustrade Australia, with our tag line – “Bringing glass to life” has developed what we believe to be the most exciting spigot and lighting system in the market. Due for release in 2019, the combination of a spigot and LED lighting system is a game changer in the commercial construction and residential housing markets.
I’d like to thank a few people who helped me get to this point. First and most importantly my family. My wife Jess has encouraged and supported me with nearly every crazy idea l come up with. My beautiful daughter Chloe Rose, who from a young age has listened to my ideas and even though she says “enough already” l know she loves them. Craig Symons (Symo) who taught me how to build, (over the phone mind you). Phil Hutt, who gave me the confidence to believe and encouraged me to take the next step. My great friend and father figure Wally Zarb, who not only taught me about business methods, but more importantly, being ethical in business ahead of anything else.
Finally, my Dad, Gerd Behnecke. From a young age Dad instilled an uncompromising work ethic. Being German, short cuts were not an option. He would say “Either do it properly son, or don’t do it at all”, unfortunately, l never had the option of “don’t do it at all” part of that saying, but the most important lesson he taught me was respect.
PHONE MARK ON 0402 270 139