Australia Made

What does it mean to be an Australian Made manufacturer?

It seems to me that the media has been banging on about the ‘death of Aussie manufacturing’ for years. Apparently, ‘everyone’ is taking their manufacturing plants to China or India. Look past the headlines and you’ll see a different story. There is a no dearth of businesses manufacturing to the highest standards here in Australia. In fact, most of the 25 companies we asked about the Australia made logo campaign were just too darned busy to respond – a great indication that business is booming for Australian manufacturers.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of manufacturing in this country?

Scott Douglas, product manager, Bailey Home and Hardware The main advantage of manufacturing in Australia is that Bailey is able to supply a quality-controlled product made by Australians that meet Australian safety standards. There is also the benefit of increased service standards as communications run through local people. Short lead times for supply allow Bailey to run much more resourcefully and give the ability for manufacturers to be flexible to changing demands. But the major disadvantage of manufacturing within Australia is that companies face the challenge of trying to compete with imported products, which can be produced at a much cheaper rate.

Drew Spiden, general manager, Cemintel

At this stage Cemintel does not manufacture anywhere else but Australia. CSR’s history is founded in Australia and our identity is intertwined with working here. While CSR is an internationally successful company, we are satisfied that we can manufacture the product here to the quality and standards expected of a CSR product and employ Australians in the process. The manufacturing, distribution and research and development teams can also work closely when all based in Australia, which drives product and service innovation.

Steve Gent, national sales and marketing manager Reliance Worldwide

We’re a proud, iconic Australian company and thanks to our onshore manufacturing facilities, we have the ability to try and test new projects onsite. Quality is integral to our products and onshore manufacturing gives us the ability to control all facets of the business.

The advantages of manufacturing here in Australia are that you can be proactive in the process – while keeping a close eye on the development of products. It’s great to be employing Australians and injecting that back into the Australian economy, especially at the current time. The disadvantages are that labour is more expensive here. So your competitors do sometimes have a pricing advantage.

Russell Schrale, national marketing manager Philmac

As an Australian manufacturer we have a highly skilled workforce that goes from the ground floor up. Employees at Philmac take pride in the work that they do and the company invests back into staff through an extensive training program. In fact, we were recently named the South Australian employer of the year at the 2009 training awards. One of the most important advantages of manufacturing in Australia is that we are close to our customers, the ones who actually use our products. If a customer has a suggestion for a product improvement, we can jump in the car and have a talk about it. We find that Australia is the ultimate proving ground for our products. If they can stand up to Australian conditions – they can take on the world!

Lorena Franzin, manager Austral Clothes Hoists

There are distinct advantages to manufacturing in Australia. Austral’s product range uses Australian made components from Australian companies. This ensures a regular material supply and allows Austral to maintain tight quality control of all manufactured products. Australian labour costs could be seen as a disadvantage when competing with iconic clothes line manufacturers now producing off-shore. But Austral is a firm supporter of Australian manufacturing. Our company’s commitment ensures job security, not just for Austral employees but there’s also the flow on effect of each manufactured component. I’d also note that currency fluctuations have very little impact on our manufacturing costs, though they do still affect the cost and attractiveness of our exports.

What are your views on the Australia made logo?

Scott Douglas, product manager, Bailey home and hardware While Baileys Ladders would be proud to boast the Australia-Made symbol, we have found obtaining the rights to use the symbol cost-prohibitive. There is, however, a strong incentive to use the Australian-Made logo as it can successfully encourage consumers to support the company and their country.

The Australian-Made logo fee is calculated by a company’s turnover and charged annually. Our understanding is that the fee is 0.1% ($1 per thousand) of the company’s turnover plus GST and can be charged up to a maximum of $20,000. On the plus side, it has been shown that Australians are actively aware of buying Australian made products to support local jobs and industry. Another negative would be that the belief of some consumers is that ‘Australian made’ is more expensive to purchase.

But branding a product as Australian made does highlight other key qualities of the Australian workforce, such as good quality working conditions for employees and high safety standards.

Drew Spiden, general manager, Cemintel

Cemintel fibre cement boards are the main product manufactured in the Wetherill Park facility, but the product does not carry the Australian made symbol due to its size and the manner in which it is purchased. As these boards are not packaged, all the product information is printed on the back of the actual board, so there is no packaging on which to include the Australian Made symbol.

This being said, Cemintel does feel the Australian Made symbol is a good selling feature for some building products. It is rare that selection is made from just looking at the board. Selection is also based on the product attributes as seen on promotional and sales material.

We have not investigated this approach, feeling our other product attributes are sufficient to position our market offer as superior. Our brand, which leverages the long and trusted history of CSR, is known as an innovator in the building sector and delivers reliable, versatile and durable products which effectively compete with other brands, regardless of our products being Australian made. It is rare the question of Australian made comes up as being important for our customers, because they know our brand and trust our products already.

The biggest incentive for using the logo would be that it eliminates any doubt that your product is Australian made, and that it therefore contributes to the Australian economy through job creation and supporting the particular business sector.

I am not convinced that selection of products such as Cemintel’s fibre cement are swayed by a sense of national pride, though this is not the case for all types of products in the building sector. As for disadvantages, deterrents include the extra cost of investigating the use of the Australian made badge, securing the right to use it, administering its use and the adjustments which would need to be made in the manufacturing.

Steve Gent, national sales and marketing manager Reliance Worldwide

Ours is an iconic Australian company, so customers are already aware that our products are Australian made. The marketing department looked into using the symbol sometime ago, but decided it would not be of enough benefit to the company to offset the associated cost. That being said, it is a good medium for newer companies to promote their Australian products. For longer standing businesses such as our own, there is little benefit as we have already spent years building and maintaining our brand.

Russell Schrale, national marketing manager Philmac

We investigated using the logo but determined that using the official logo rather then our own was not worth the additional cost. We do see value in it as a mark of quality though. When you identify your products as Australian made, the customer can have faith that they are well made and able to do the task intended.

But, as an Australian manufacturer, you can’t fall back on this as a key selling point. It’s part of the product offering you bring to the customer, but when it comes down to it you need still to provide innovation, quality and value. These are the elements customers demand, regardless of where a product comes from.

Lorena Franzin, manager Austral Clothes Hoists

The decision to proceed with new company branding for Austral came about as a direct result of our investigation into using the Australian made symbol, which does not offer clear representation of 100% Australian Made products. The logo can also be used on products that are just packaged in Australia. It also didn’t offer sufficient incentive, definitive branding or point of difference to substantiate the cost involved in participating in the program. Our directors sought a definitive symbol and/or slogan to ensure the public were aware the Austral Company and all our products were 100% Australian owned and made.

As a result, Austral rebranded and now uses its own logo with the slogan ‘You Can Trust Australian Made’ on green and gold packing.

Kaylene Knight, marketing services manager, Sutton Tools

The benefits of using the Australian made logo include the increased exposure to both the end-consumer and business market. Australian made products also have strong impact with product differentiation. A recent survey found that over 42% of Aussie customers specifically look for the Australian made logo. We’re also getting great general feedback from trade shows, exhibitions, buyers, end-users and customers. Many commented on the fact that it’s great to see a local manufacturer producing such high quality products and many expressed their preference for buying Australian made products over others.

It’s evident from these reactions and other comments we’ve received over the last two years that our use of the Australian Made logo with our own Sutton Tools branding did effectively communicate the Australian made message.

Peter Smith, marketing manager, Cooper Industries

Over the years, the program has provided a good return on investment. The Australian Made symbol is widely recognised as a symbol of quality and value for money in the Australian and overseas markets. It has a high awareness in the local market, with many customers preferring to buy Australian made products where possible. Cooper is proud to be an Australian manufacturer employing an Australian workforce.

How useful has it been in your marketing campaigns?

Scott Douglas, product manager, Bailey home and hardware Although we don’t display the Australian-made logo, when marketing our products as Australian-made, Bailey has found that consumers are much more positive about the buying process. We believe this is because they like supporting the Australian workforce.

It is useful to demonstrate that sales are going to be put back into the Australian economy, our employees, their families and their future.

Drew Spiden, general manager, Cemintel

I see this as a good idea for some sectors where customers are looking at a shelf to select their products. In this case it offers information which capitalises on the consumer goodwill associated with being Australian and provides a clear differentiation against other products it might be stacked near. I see it can be an excellent tool, especially for Australian companies exporting internationally, to promote Australian manufacturing and Australian products as well supporting your employees and the local economy.

Russell Schrale, national marketing manager Philmac

We promote the fact that our products are Australian made but don’t make it our key message. Our products have been successful in the Australian market for decades because of their value and quality. These are the key communication points we try to get across.

Lorena Franzin, manager Austral Clothes Hoists

Austral’s own re-branding and product re-packaging has seen continued growth in sales throughout Australia. The distinctive packaging is representative of Austral’s commitment to a greener, more sustainable environment and is reflected in the product range.

Kaylene Knight, marketing services manager, Sutton Tools

Loyalty to our brand is vital to our business. We have been manufacturing quality cutting tools in Australia since 1917 and the fact that we are still manufacturing in Australia nearly 100 years later is becoming a very important part of our message. We have and will continue to reinforce the Australian made message by using the Australia made logo alongside our Sutton Tools logo where applicable to products, in multiple advertising mediums.

Brand equity allows a brand to earn greater sales volume and / or higher margins than it could without the name Australian made, providing Sutton Tools with a competitive advantage. Good quality products are trusted brands that are especially valued, we give that to the customer, and the use of the jumping kangaroo logo strengthens the impact with product differentiation.

Peter Smith, marketing manager, Cooper Industries

Being the only hand tools manufacturer in Australia, it has proven very useful over the years. We have conducted many marketing campaigns focusing on our Australian made products and have raised awareness in the market of our products and brands.