SOUTH Australian auto electrical equipment manufacturer REDARC came away from the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards with the top Business of the Year prize, presented by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.
The company also added the Medium Business Award to its bulging trophy cabinet, to go with the Telstra South Australian Business of the Year and South Australian Medium Business awards it picked up in July on the way to the national finals.
As a shining example of South Australian manufacturing success, REDARC’s recognition in the prestigious national Telstra awards is a ray of light beaming through the cloud of Holden’s upcoming car factory closure and the wider gloom surrounding Australian manufacturing.
“As the Honourable Joe Hockey just said to me, who said that manufacturing is dead?”, asserted REDARC chief executive Anthony Kittel during his acceptance speech. “You know what – it definitely isn’t dead!”
Mr Kittel identified Australia’s manufacturing sweet spot as “low-volume, high-variability, medium- to high-complexity and a high value-added component”.
Quoting one of REDARC’s leading business advisers he said, “The purpose of doing advanced manufacturing is to make something that no-one else makes – and at that point you no longer compete on cost, you compete on value for money and that is the fundamental distinction.”
Mr Kittel offered his award as “a tribute to all the advanced manufacturers around our great country and [to] advise that manufacturing is absolutely not dead, it’s prospering”.
Telstra Business Group managing director and Telstra Australian Business Awards ambassador Will Irivng piled on the praise.
“REDARC is a high growth, high quality manufacturer that has focused on innovation, deep customer understanding, targeted marketing and investment in new capability,” he said.
“They demonstrate that with a very strategic focus on their value proposition, as well as partnerships with universities and high levels of investment in research and development and production quality, domestic manufacturers can capture value and not just survive, but thrive.”
Mr Kittel said the secrets of the company’s success were “continually investing a minimum of 15 per cent of our sales revenue back into research and having about 25 per cent of our employees working in R&D and innovation”.
“As an advanced manufacturer we need a highly skilled and empowered workforce. The commitment of the REDARC employees to learning and embracing training is impressive. Without a highly skilled workforce our product wouldn’t be at the technology level it is.”
Mr Kittel and his team were recognised by the Telstra Awards judges for having a huge pipeline of ideas that were turned into a stream of product development that drives REDARC’s growth.
The judges described REDARC as a “financial success with impressive durability and robustness, high future potential and significant investment in staff training and product development”.
Mr Kittel’s acceptance speech started and ended with an anecdote of when he and his wife bought the company 17 years ago, having put their house on the line, sold their car and borrowed some cash.
He told of visiting an auto electrician in Fyshwick, ACT shortly after purchasing REDARC, handing his business card to the person behind the counter and asking to speak with the workshop owner.
“A guy out the back yelled, ‘tell him his product’s shit, his service is crap and we don’t need his business card’. It was not a good feeling so we knew we certainly had a lot of hard work ahead of us,” reminisced Mr Kittel.
Concluding with how times have changed since then – including the impressive state-of-the-art manufacturing facility established in 2007 – Mr Kittel said he was pleased to say the auto electrician in Fyshwick “now uses only REDARC products”.
VASA congratulates Anthony Kittel and the whole REDARC team for their success and wishes them all the very best for the future.
“REDARC has been a great supporter of the industry and VASA over many years,” said VASA president Ian Stangroome. “Their products are outstanding and well respected by the industry.”
Products produced by REDARC include battery charging, portable solar, electronic safety and voltage converter equipment used by 4WD, caravan and camper trailer owners as well as the bus, rail, trucking, mining and emergency vehicle industries.