Sutton Tools 90 Years On
Australian manufacturing has changed in many ways since W.H. (Henry) Sutton started thread grinding tools in 1917. One thing that hasn’t changed in 90 years is Sutton Tools’ commitment to locally manufacturing export quality cutting tools and the Sutton family roots.
Henry’s two sons, Henry George and Leslie, continued growing the business until Henry George’s two sons Bill and Jim took over the reins. Bill and Jim’s involvement in the business is still strong, but the day to day running of the business has now been handed over to their two sons; Peter and Robert. Having both gained hands on experience in the production of their wares, Peter now leads the manufacturing team whilst Robert leads the sales and marketing teams.
“Our family work environment and high level product quality is why Sutton Tools has been manufacturing cutting tools for 90 years,” said Robert Sutton, a fourth generation family member and Group Marketing Manager. “In today’s economic environment, we are proud that Sutton Tools is still a family owned Australian manufacturing business.” This is quite a statement when you consider that in the early seventies there were four cutting tools manufacturers in Australia – today, only Sutton Tools has managed to survive.
“We are continually revising our manufacturing processes to ensure that our products remain competitive whilst ensuring the high quality our brand has become renowned for,” explained Peter Sutton, Chief Manufacturing Manager. Continued success to Sutton Tools’ portfolio has come in the form of product exports to countries such as Germany, Canada, Italy and many others. In fact, more than 25% of the products manufactured at Sutton Tools’ six manufacturing plants are exported to overseas customers.
“It is a great accomplishment to be an Australian manufacturer with demand for our product from overseas markets,” remarked Robert Sutton, who was instrumental in making these overseas contacts. To be exporting to countries such as Germany who are renowned worldwide for their engineering capabilities is no small feat. “Exporting to these countries has really changed the way we manufacture our products,” explained Peter Sutton. “Our engineering and manufacturing has to continually exceed world standards.”
The export of these products allowed Sutton Tools to release these high performance tools to the Australian market, which was previously dominated by European imports. Specifically for the DIY and handyman markets, Sutton Tools have expanded their product range of lower priced products through acquiring high quality complimentary products from overseas. “From a manufacturing perspective, we acknowledge that it is not always possible to compete with cheap imports. Likewise other products that reflect our brand are available on overseas markets but not locally,” said Robert Sutton. “To ensure all imported products are at Sutton Tools quality they are tested before we even consider including them as part of our product group.” As such Sutton Tools now boasts 20,000 individual product lines under the Sutton Tools, P&N, Frost, Jaz, Lockjaw, Diager and Garant brands.
Things have indeed changed in the 90 years since that first Sutton Tools product was manufactured by W.H. (Henry) Sutton from a factory in Northcote. Sutton Tools requirements have grown to include three plants at Thomastown, Victoria; a factory each in Hamilton and Maryborough in regional Victoria; one in KiaPoi in New Zealand; and offices nationally and in Malaysia. Altogether more than 500 people are employed.
Sutton Tools is truly an Australian manufacturing success story.