Manufacturing News

A new generation of manufacturers

Heidi Edmiston from Kraft Australia took out the 2008 Endeavour Awards Young Manufacturer of the Year with Ben Trager of Residential Truss Systems highly commended. Katherine Crichton writes.

THE Kraft Australia manufacturing business employs approximately 650 employees and produces approximately 80,000t of cheese and grocery products in three separate manufacturing facilities located South Eastern Australia.

Heidi joined Kraft in 2003 as a Continuous Improvement Coach at the Broadmeadows Biscuit Site. While in this role, she oversaw the introduction of a number of lean manufacturing tools and philosophies to the site and the wider Kraft community.

In May 2007, Heidi moved to the role of Manufacturing Manager at the Suttontown site, and was promoted to Site Manager in November the same year. In this role she is responsible for overseeing the conversion of raw materials into 23,000t of finished product on time, within budget and with productivity greater than 5% year on year.

She is also responsible for ensuring the safety of all employees and contractors on site and performs a strong coaching and mentoring roles for direct reports and others.

Heidi has already started working with the team at the site to strengthen and improve the existing systems in order to ensure it is a site that is trusted for safety, quality and performance.

Her passion and efforts in manufacturing has been acknowledged with her election to AME National Vice President in 2004, and was also awarded the Young Industry Ambassador 2004 and Victorian Young Manufacturer of the Year 2005.

Accepting the 2008 Young Manufacturer of the Year Award at the Endeavour Awards gala dinner ceremony in May, Heidi said she didn’t expect to win, saying it was great just to come to Sydney for the Awards and to also attend National Manufacturing Week (NMW) and the AME Conference at the same time.

“This award is good recognition of the hard work and effort I has put into Kraft, AME and the manufacturing community. It is fantastic to be acknowledged in front of your peers in this way and I think award programs such as the Endeavours encourages other young people to get involved in the industry,” Edmiston explained.

In an industry which can be described as unforgiving as times, it was Heidi’s strong leadership skills and determination to succeed which highlighted her as a deserving recipient of the Young Manufacturer of the Year award for 2008.

“I think the ability to take the initiative and give guidance and direction is vital in this industry, and I try to demonstrate these qualities in everything I do,” she added.


Residential Truss Systems (RTS) was established in 1997 as Trager Engineering when owner operator Benjamin Trager saw massive potential in the growing Australian steel fabrication market.

RTS consists of three separate businesses in locations across WA: RTS Group in Landsdale, Superstruct in Malaga and RTS South West in Bunbury.

As the MD, Ben spreads his time across all three businesses to strategically direct all operations of the company, ensuring the core values of the business are supported throughout. This guidance covers big picture elements of the business such as the implementation and utilisation of innovation throughout the business, together with process development to ensure day to day running within the businesses is as smooth, efficient and effective as possible.

The driving force behind the business and no stranger to innovation, Ben continually invests in new technologies as part of the pursuit to produce a more streamlined and efficient fabrication process and is focussed upon spotting new opportunities to benefit the businesses. These often include potential clients or suppliers as well as gaps in the market that RTS might be able to develop and serve for example via the industrial painting section.

Ben’s career path over the last ten years has been an outstanding achievement in itself. From completing a boilermaker’s apprenticeship to starting his own business, he is now currently in charge of five site operations employing over 160 individuals.

These qualities obviously impressed the Endeavour Award judges who awarded Ben highly commended in a field of strong contenders.

Ben told Manufacturers Monthly he said he felt it was his broad role in the running of the company, not just the manufacturing side, which sets him apart from other young manufacturers.

“In Western Australia companies can often go undetected and sometimes don’t appear to be doing things on a national scale, so to be recognised in a national manufacturing awards program such as the Endeavour Awards is fantastic from this point of view,” Trager said.

“This award is a nice feather in our cap and is of course very gratifying on a personal level to be recognised in this way.”

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