Endeavour Award winner profiles – John Guest, Jubilee Springs

On May 28, Manufacturers' Monthly held its annual Endeavour Awards. We will be profiling each of the winners this week and next. Jubilee Springs’ John Guest was the champion in the Lifetime Achievement category.

The winner of the Endeavour Awards Lifetime Achievement category has spent 41 years and counting at the family-owned Jubilee Springs. 

The company was established before the Second World War, and moved from Camperdown to Ourimbah – its current location – in 1989. 

Dating back to 1938, Jubilee Springs is Austalia's longest running spring manufacturing company. Jubilee is proudly owned and managed by the Guest family, descendants of the founder, John Guest Senior. 

Jubilee is a rarity as an Australian spring maker, and one of the very few remaining.  

John Guest Jr started in 1973 after father died, leaving school in year 9 to work at the business his dad started.  

"I had to learn the right way and I worked right from the start of the place, sweeping the floors, right through the company," he told an ABC interviewer on AM in 2013

He has worked no shortage of different roles at Jubilee, becoming a fitter and machinist after starting, and has worked up from the factory floor up to running the company. 

On the management side, he has overseen the decentralisation to the Central Coast, and managed the building of three new factories there. 

He has been involved in the taking over of several companies, including 4 Slide Forming, Peerless Pegs, and C&K springs. 

Guest even reintroduced an innovative, Australian-made mouse and rat trap to the industry after Standfield closed. 

"Yes, the Government came to us and said that Woolworths and Coles were having problems getting a supply of mouse-traps so we redesigned the mouse-trap ourselves and we turned it into a recycled, recyclable mouse-trap," he explained.  

"And we probably sell between one and two million of those mouse-traps a year – totally Australian made." 

Under Guest's leadership, the company has grown from five employers to over 40. It now sees its third generation heavily involved in running its operations. 

Part of its longevity is due to investing in ways to stay modern, said Guest.  

"The only way of keeping ahead with a world market is having the latest equipment, and we've always gone out around the world to seek the latest equipment," he told Manufacturers' Monthly shortly after winning the Lifetime Achievement award.  

"And at Jubilee Springs we have three of the latest spring coiling machines in the world, literally. So we've got to keep ahead of overseas with the technology, otherwise they'll just leave us behind."

On the topic of competing globally, Guest pointed out that there was a sad lack of recognition about the realities involved in doing so. 

"I think the key to a lot of it is the philosophy as far as the level playing field is not happening and I think if we're getting products out of countries that are so subsidised by their governments and we're not, we should, I feel, be applying some sort of tariff to those particularly," Guest said. 

"Because the people aren't getting paid what our people are getting paid, and we have a lifestyle in this country that we don't want to lose, and we don't want to have a lower [standard] economy as far as people not earning incomes." 

Deeply involved in his part of the manufacturing community, Guest is also the current president of the Australian Wire Industry Association and has been so since October 2013. Prior to this, he was Vice President of the same organisation for five years. 

A non-profit organisation, AWIA was formed in 1993 by companies as a merger of several groups involved in the sector to support the long term development and prosperity of the wire industry throughout the Australian, New Zealand, Pacific and South East Asian region. 

Guest helped to establish the AWIA spring training course.  

As an educator and mentor passionate about maintaining the skills to keep local manufacturing strong, Guest also has an ongoing commitment to investing in Australian apprenticeships and retraining. 

(Pictured: John Guest, managing director, Jubilee Springs, and Manufacturers' Monthly's managing editor, Branko Miletic.) 

Jubilee Springs 

02 4389 1411 

www.jubileesprings.com.au

Leave a Reply