manufacturing entrepreneur Tim Leatherman has said that there’s no reason why
manufacturing could not thrive in South Australia, and that the key to success
was producing products of value, rather than low labour costs.
Talking to ABC Adelaide, Leatherman – the founder of the company of the same name,
which produces multi-tools sold in over 70 countries – conceded that production
staff at his Oregon factory make less than Australian workers. However, there
would not be any reason why his business would succeed if it hypothetically
produced in this country.
“Our average wage
for a production worker would be more like $15 per hour,” said
Leatherman, whose Oregon-based company employs over 500 and made revenues of
over $100 million last year. Leatherman the company was established in 1983.
He said that
outsourcing to lower-cost countries could be a temptation, but quality
production was harder to achieve.
“If you have
clever people that are coming up with good products that have good features, that
have a lot of value, then the cost of making them is not as high above other
low cost countries as you would think, even when you are doing it in a country
like this where the wages are pretty high,” he said.