Lighting the spark in the next generation

electricians

Based in the seaside city of Wollongong, NSW, Arrow Electrical Services is investing in the next generation of Australian electricians. With a dynamic team consisting of 34 highly skilled and experienced employees, the business has situated itself as a leading specialist across the state.

Established in 1984 by Col Brown as a small motor rewind shop, it has evolved into a sizeable operation, run by Col’s two sons, Rodney and Anthony. Working across the local mining, industrial, commercial, energy and security industries, they have been developing expertise in rotating machinery for over 35 years. This service includes repairs, 24-hour maintenance service, tooling support and switchboard manufacturing.

“It is one of the best crew of people that I have ever worked with,” says Dane Townsend, Workshop Manager. “I think that says a lot about the values of the company. Being family-owned has a lot to do with that – the management team is always incredibly supportive and we all gel together extremely well.”

One of Arrow’s primary goals is to invest in the future of the local industrial sector, by creating work opportunities for young people in the area. Offering continual trade education and apprenticeship opportunities is a large part of this, Dane explains.

“Some of our staff have been around for 25 to 30 years, and we want them to pass on their knowledge before they hang up the bat. We feel it is critical, moving forward, that we invest in our community’s future and preserve those skills in the younger generation. Our team is great in that way. Everyone has the time to teach and assist, in any way they can.”

Since its outset, the company has been specialising in rotating machinery sales and repairs. Inclusive of rewinds, overhauling, testing and installations, this multi-generational accumulation of skills and knowledge has only strengthened over time. The team also has the capacity to carry out laser alignment and vibration analysis, with extensive knowledge in induction motors and submersible pumps. 

Building up a comprehensive workshop, equipped with safe and advanced apparatus is key to Arrow’s success. According to Dane, complying with rigorous external audits and staying ahead of the curve with the latest technology requires a strong relationship with local suppliers.

“We prefer to use locally based companies like Motion Australia for our parts. A key factor is communication – it is a lot easier when we can discuss with someone about what we need, face to face. It is also about supporting the local economy and forming good partnerships with other businesses.”

“The main products we buy through Motion Australia are bearings, lubricants and gaskets for our electrical motors, pumps, and other rotating equipment.

They are essentially a one stop shop for us. We know that if they do not have things on the shelf, they are always happy to source them for us as quickly as possible. It is good to know we have someone we can rely on.”

Wollongong branch rep Jose Costa reflects on his extensive working relationship with Arrow Electrical, citing trust as a major factor in their reliably positive outcomes. “We’ve been working alongside their business for over 30 years. It is a relationship founded in loyalty – we provide them with excellent service, and they have come to rely on us for quality, timely products. That also flows on – we eagerly support them to deliver on expectations from their own customers.”

“Arrow Electrical is a family business, so we have a very personal relationship and intimate knowledge of their operations. We get along very well with the owners and there is a certain level of symbiosis in how we serve each other.”

Getting involved in the community and demonstrating proactive steps towards growth are core priorities for the business. As a member of the i3net – the Illawarra’s Innovative Industry Network – Arrow is carving a notable path in the electrical space. Forming a network of like-minded industrial businesses helps to highlight work opportunities and encourage shared resources across the region, Dane says.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our local economy and build on existing progress in technologies. Community is important to us, and it is key that we learn to adapt to changes in the industry.” 

Like most businesses, Arrow were considerably affected by the last two years and the impacts of Covid-19 but have aimed to make the most of the situation by applying their expertise to helping the broader recovery effort. 

“I actually would say that when Covid first hit two years ago, we got a little bit busier to begin with,” reflects Dane. “That was because of the loss in production for a lot of our customers. Many of them decided to use the down time for preventative maintenance, which is where we get called in. We have also been assisting by installing equipment on sites to help deal with outbreaks, such as thermal imaging technology.” 

Through the ups and downs, the team has maintained focus on their mission to provide comprehensive service and enduring products to a range of sectors across the Illawarra and beyond. Since starting with the company as an apprentice, Dane has worked as a tradesperson and now within a management role, applying his passion for problem-solving every day on the job. He is driven by Arrow’s commitment to innovation and is excited about their newer ventures into different markets.

“We are an AS3800 workshop, which means we are qualified to work on hazardous area equipment. We have invested a lot of time and money into that area of work, and it is something we want to keep expanding on top of our strong presence in the coal industry,” says Dane.

Arrow’s purpose-built workspaces are equipped with the necessary hardware to carry out premium servicing and manufacturing to quick turn arounds. They are an accredited level two service provider across multiple categories and levels. The workshop is licensed to Department of Primary Industries (DPI) standards, and the company is a member of both the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“What we do is so versatile. There are so many areas of specialisation as an electrician, but where we invest – in rotating equipment and motors – and how we do it is quite unique. We may have upcoming projects to do with hydrogen, which we have not dealt with before. Having been around since the 80s, it has been a long journey, but it is only going to grow from here.” 

Originally published here for Industry InMotion Magazine.