The inductees, announced by the Minister for Manufacturing and Export, Andre Haermeyer, at a gala dinner in May this year, have been awarded for outstanding and sustained contributions to manufacturing.

Tony Schiavello, managing director of the Schiavello Group and Dr Graeme Blackman, chairman and managing director of the Institute of Drug Technology Australia Ltd (IDT) both received Hall of Fame Honour Roll awards.

The Schiavello Group is one of Australia’s top five hundred private companies. It employs more than one thousand people. With a strong focus on design and research and development, the company provides complete office fitouts, including information technology products and services.

Blackman has built IDT Australia into a world-leading pharmaceutical company that develops and manufactures key ingredients for drugs used in the treatment of cancer.

He is seen as a leader in the development of Australia’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The Hall of Fame was established in June 2000 by the Victorian Government in partnership with key industry associations as part of the $27 million Agenda for New Manufacturing.

According to the Minister, the Hall of Fame forms part of the government’s drive to position Victoria as a key centre of Asia Pacific manufacturing excellence.

“These ten companies range from small businesses to multinationals. They cover a wide spectrum of industries and in some cases they have grown from tiny backyard operations to thriving global enterprises,” Haermeyer said.

Schiavello – a simple philosophy for success

Born in 1938 in Sorianello, Italy, Antonino Schiavello immigrated to Australia in 1956 and ten years later founded a small office interiors business with his brother.

Today, Schiavello is ranked within Australia’s top five hundred private companies and is the largest Australian company in its sector, with thirty per cent of Australian market share, an annual turnover of $220 million and over one thousand employees.

As managing director for over thirty-nine years, Schiavello has expanded his family business into the Schiavello Group, an international enterprise.

In 2006 the Schiavello Group will move to a new purpose built factory and distribution warehouse near Melbourne airport, where it plans to substantially expand its workforce.

Schiavello quotes his business philosophy as simple: “Know your costs, employ the right people, recognise the service they provide and reward them accordingly.”

“Our products are specialised products, designed with style and quality to achieve market success,” he said.

“These products express a unique Schiavello aesthetic and incorporate all important functionality. We are accountable for the quality of our products and this is what differentiates our products from others. 

“Our participation in local and overseas markets requires us to respond with innovation and creativity, and includes a strong focus on product design.”

Schiavello pursues a deliberate policy of design innovation and the development of in-house manufacturing capabilities based on a total commitment to product design and material research.

“We actively work closely with local and international designers to continue to set new standards in work-place systems to enhance human performance, corporate cultures and environmental sustainability.

“We have been designing ergonomic height adjustable furniture, for over twenty-five years. When we design a product, we take into account the functionality of the product – to suit the user in terms of comfort, flexibility, adjustability, and to fully accommodate the needs of the end user.”

Schiavello products are designed and engineered in facilities certified to international environmental management systems, including environmental certification to ISO 14001. Schiavello is the first Australian furniture manufacturer to achieve this status.

“We are committed to world’s best practice principles and take environmental issues very seriously. We continuously strive for better solutions and new ways of designing products with environmental conservation always in mind.

“Our long commitment to environmental sustainability includes the use of LCA (life-cycle assessment) to design products that reduce their environmental impact, throughout the product’s life.

"This method focuses on environmental considerations in product development and design, including energy inputs and outputs in production, consumption and product disposal, and evaluates the environmental implications of alternative materials.”

According to Schiavello, new technologies are integrated into design and manufacturing, including data, computer and telecommunication platforms. Schiavello’s partnerships and joint ventures with leading technology companies have allowed diversification into flat screen technologies and self-service information kiosks.

In terms of export sales, the biggest challenge for Schiavello is the state of the Australia dollar.

“If our Australia dollar is very high it’s very hard to compete with price. At the same time, the challenge is to continue to develop new products, create a good, strong brand presence and produce exceptionally designed systems and work environments internationally.

“We understand that investing in people, new ideas and technology is essential to achieving global success and ensuring our longevity by leading the industry in finding workplace solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.

“We have built an Australian company to lead in our industry and to compete against the world’s best – not only at home but abroad.”

At a time when Australian industry shut their manufacturing operations in Australia and transferred their facilities to low cost labour countries, Schiavello expanded its Victorian manufacturing facility investing over $40 million in infrastructure, plant and equipment to produce its products locally, creating extra jobs for Australians.

Inspired by plastics

APS Plastics, an Australian family-owned design and product development company, was a popular inclusion in the Hall of Fame inductees.

The company has designed and developed a range of products including stadium seating, pumps, syringes and coolers for a broad range of clients.

APS Plastics now employs twelve staff including polymer, mechanical and manufacturing engineers, industrial designers, toolmakers and project managers.

John and Jenny Petschel established APS Plastics in 1986. They were inspired to start up a plastics company that would allow them to take advantage of the design freedoms that working with plastics allows.

“We wanted to combine plastics with appropriate technology and processes,” Petschel explained.

“We also wanted to provide high quality product engineering, analysis and testing services that would overcome the perception that quality precision engineering was only available from traditional suppliers such as Germany, Switzerland, Japan and the USA.”

According to Petschel, a key point of difference for APS is the company’s ability to successfully integrate precision engineering and testing technology with product design, development and commercialisation processes.

“APS assists clients to build healthier bottom line profits, often utilising technology based cost reduction strategies, without compromising product style and function.

“We combine innovative and stylish product design, with quality, precision engineering, analysis and testing, tooling and manufacturing expertise. We believe that this unique and proven combination provides our clients with a total service solution that is unique in the Australian market.”

Exports high on the agenda

Two award winning products, the RainBank, an automatic rainwater harvesting controller, and Celsior, a new generation spa bath pump, now see Davey Products inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Davey is an Australian company owned by GUD Holdings Ltd and is currently looking at expanding and repositioning as Davey Water Products to reflect the increased focus of the company.

New building regulations in a number of states have placed greater emphasis on water savings for new homes. RainBank allows homes that would normally rely completely on potable mains water to seamlessly incorporate rainwater for toilet flushing and laundry.

According to Max Ekins, product manager of Davey, the company’s most successful export market has been the Middle East. “The high ambient temperatures and high humidity with poor water quality and water supply issues have favoured pumps built to suit similar Australian conditions,” he explained.

“Davey also exports products throughout South East Asia including China. We are currently enjoying solid growth in America with a team of five people in our Chicago office.

“The United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Pacific are also good markets and we are now also working on European markets.”

Ekins believes the export market is vital for growth and strong brand position in Australia: “Exports have been growing well, however international currency fluctuations present problems.”

Davey is believed to be the only Australian pump manufacturer making its own electric motors.

“Our strength has been in offering high quality, well designed niche products – particularly our engine powered FireFighter pumps.

Kingfisher quality

Kingfisher International produces fibre optic testing equipment from a purpose built facility in Melbourne. The company exports around ninety per cent of its products to the optoelectronics-photonics industry in the United States.

Managing director, Rosmin Robertson, believes the company’s outstanding export success is due to compliance with international safety and quality standards.

“We have always made a point of being standards compliant. Meeting these requirements is necessary if we are to have a chance in export markets.”

“Kingfisher’s supply lines, manufacturing systems and demand forecasting have all been carefully developed and managed so that we can always deliver quality product fast.

“We had a very long term export strategy. Part of this strategy was to be successful in smaller markets, before attempting to enter the large and crowded US market,” Robertson said.

“We have spent some years probing the US market. It’s taken a few goes to put in place the right people and structures for our particular niche.”  

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