Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with Bruce, Iain and Andrew Turner from Wynstan, a family-owned custom windows and doors business, to find out more about their efforts to keep manufacturing local.
When you look at aluminium doors or windows on buildings and homes, there is a very good chance that many of them come from Australia’s oldest manufacturer of custom windows and door fashions, Wynstan.
The company started out as a small lock business in Burwood with just two people – Charles Turner and his son Bruce Turner in 1968.
Wynstan now manufactures from a Western Sydney facility that is over 22,000 square metres large and employs over 400 staff and contractors. The business has evolved over time to add a wide range of customised shutters, blinds, doors and awnings.
“When the business first started, my father (Charles) and I worked on security systems. Later on, we ventured into home improvement and manufacturing doors. From making fly-screen doors nearly 55 years ago, we now manufacture very sophisticated security doors, Crimsafe, that require licenced technicians to install them,” said Bruce Turner, managing director, Wynstan.
From opening its first showroom in 1991, the company has expanded to 23 showrooms in Australia and three in the US. They are looking at opening their 24th showroom in Sydney soon.
Wynstan prides itself on having managed to keep manufacturing in Australia and a strong family- first culture.
“Our strength lies in the 400 odd people who stand behind us, that have made growth possible. We understand that we need to take care of them and support them,” said Iain Turner, sales and marketing director of Wynstan.
Keeping manufacturing in Australia
Despite the temptation to move offshore, Wynstan has managed to keep the majority of its manufacturing in Australia.
“We will have the ability to have 100 per cent of our products manufactured here (in Australia) soon because we now have the space to do so,” said Iain.
Currently, Wynstan’s products reach as far as the US market. According to Iain, not many people are bringing manufacturing back to Australia and it’s worth keeping their processes in Australia because the company can better control the process.
“Our product is customised. Because we are not making thousands of the same shape and size, we need to adjust the dimensions every time. Manufacturing here gives us the ability to deliver our products quickly to the customer. We even deliver to the US market in a maximum time of seven days from the order,” said Iain.
To produce quality products, Iain said the team needs quality staff. Recently, Wynstan has invested $350,000 towards a training area in their new facility.
The training helps new staff learn the combination of traditional manufacturing processes and automation tools that Andrew Turner, operations director of Wynstan told Manufacturers’ Monthly is the secret to Wynstan’s sustained growth. The process is designed to be efficient and deliver their customised products in a short amount of time and to a high quality.
The company has recently developed a customised robot that automatically drives the screws in the Crimsafe doors. This innovation helps Wynstan meet growing demand, as well as improve the quality of its product.
Other processes like sewing and connecting the blinds are also automated to the extent that an unskilled workforce can quickly learn the process. According to Andrew, automation has helped the company overcome a shortage of skilled workers, while enabling growth.
“It’s not easy to find highly-trained staff who are willing to work in the manufacturing sector. The reality is that manufacturing jobs are not sexy and the wages are the minimum in the market,” he said. “Through automating our processes, we are not killing jobs. We are merely trying to survive in the highly competitive market. And, it is also enabling us to grow and create more jobs as a result.”
Investing in the future of Australian manufacturing
With the Wynstan’s product output and portfolio growing year on year since the 1990s and to ensure the sustainability of the evolving business model, the company needed a good financial solution and consultancy support. However, the path to finding the right partner that understood a manufacturing business’s needs was challenging, until recently, Bruce told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
“We were looking for a bank that we could work with. From the very beginning, many of the financial institutions that we approached came up with disappointing proposals,” he said. “It was not only about money. We needed a bank that would understand our work and that shared our vision for keeping manufacturing local.” That was when Wynstan came to learn about St.George Bank and its focus on growing Australian manufacturers.
Andrew said that what makes St.George so unique is that the bank seemed to understand the manufacturing process. Most importantly, they are actively looking to invest in the future of manufacturing in Australia.
“If the banks here are not willing to invest in manufacturing, then it will be difficult to keep manufacturing local. That’s why so much of the manufacturing goes overseas,”
He said that, in the manufacturing industry, investment is always about technology and how the processes can be more efficient, while maintaining labour rather than reducing it.
“This is especially important in a custom-made environment like our business, where each and every product is different. Under that nature, we have to be investing in technologies to improve. If you don’t have a partner that’s willing to invest, that’s when manufacturing starts to shift out of the country,” said Andrew.
Andrew said St.George was willing to invest in Wynstan’s automation efforts, despite the potential risks involved.
“It’s easy to find investors for tried and tested technologies. It is much harder to convince someone that an investment is worthy when you are still in the development stage,” he said.
Matthew Kelly, head of manufacturing and wholesale for St.George’s NSW division, said St.George understood where Wynstan was heading and was willing to support them on that journey.
“What makes St.George’s model different is that our specialists understand the industry they serve inside and out. We talk the language of the industry and we use our experience to help customers like Wynstan grow,” he said.
Kelly added that St.George has already been linking Wynstan with some industry partners and universities to help them with their automation plans. St.George has also been showcasing Wynstan in networking events, that have helped create more recognition for the company.
“We have strong industry connections and we are willing to use our connections to help Wynstan grow and prosper,” he said.
A strong partnership
The partnership between Wynstan and St.George been going on for almost three months now and both are satisfied with what has been achieved in such short time. “The fact is that St.George’s model is very unique. While most banks today only give you one point of contact to be dealing with, we can easily reach out to St.George and they understand us very well,” said Bruce. “We were looking for a bank that respects our business and we have found St.George to be just that. Within just three months, we feel like we have become part of their family,” he said.
Peter Crabtree, senior manager – industry banking, St.George, said that they have built a good rapport with Wynstan, which is based on honesty.
“Bruce tells us everything, which is important. We interact a lot as we work through the first 3 – 6 months of our partnership. Having this sort of open and honest relationship helps us to assess the risk and then provide additional facilities in terms of asset and equipment finance or raising capital to grow the business,” said Crabtree.