Rewarding Australian innovation

Speaking over a video call with Grant Gray, one gets the feeling that there has never been a better time to be an Australian manufacturer.

While the once in a generation disruptions that have occurred because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) should not be minimised, this moment of crisis has contributed to manufacturers leading the nation when it comes to keeping Australians healthy, fed, and in business. As General Manager national sales of both CBC Australia and BSC Australia, suppliers of engineering solutions to Australian industry, Gray is seeing a shift in the public’s attitude to Australian-made products.

“With the pressures that we have now with the global economy, we are really starting to look in our own backyard. I have this saying, ‘Buy Australian, because it tastes better.’” said Gray. “We’re seeing shifts in behaviour of people now looking for Australian manufactured product.”

National pride has increased across the board. With 117 field sales representatives spread around 80 locations across Australia, Gray has seen first-hand how manufacturers have responded to the disruptions of COVID-19.

“We have customers now manufacturing sanitiser in a major way to meet that market. We’ve got customers that are innovating in terms of manufacturing PPE or manufacturing products for the health care industry. We’ve got customers now who are manufacturing safety products around protective screens for retailers. We are a nation of innovators who are nimble and able to respond quickly, on a world scale.”

Gray’s branch network is over 80-strong and includes long-standing Australian brands CBC Australia and BSC Australia who have been working with manufacturers to manage increases and shifts in demand for nearly 100 years.

“Food manufacturing, including tinned produce, pharmaceuticals, these businesses are investing; they’re wanting to understand how they can meet market demands in a shorter space of time and reduce their waste,” said Gray. “The other one is recycling. Cardboard recycling has gone up 40 per cent. Why? Because right now there’s a cardboard box sitting at your front door from something you bought online last night.”

Acknowledging the efforts of these manufacturing businesses, CBC Australia and BSC Australia together are launching their Let’s Roll: Australian Business Awards. Looking to reward those businesses that are innovative and agile, the businesses are giving away $340,000 worth of publicity. Entries are open until the end of July.

“For us it’s all about positioning these businesses in a more competitive and aggressive global landscape,” said Gray. “We are a big organisation, we’ve got some magnificent products and talent within our business, we’ve been around a long time, and we’re rewarding that Australian initiative and endeavour.”

Throughout the crisis, CBC Australia and BSC Australia have been keeping their finger on the pulse of the sector and passing that information onto their front-line staff who are working hand-in-hand with Australian manufacturers.

“While we are a big beast, we need to ensure that we are nimble. We’re spending a lot more time and resources understanding what the market is doing right now. We look at the Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) extensively, providing analytics to our branch managers right now to give them an understanding of what are the dynamic push factors in their local market sectors right now so they can respond accordingly.”

The Award is an extension of these services, bringing the intelligence and experience that CBC Australia and BSC Australia have to offer to the manufacturers who are making a go of it in a challenging time. The scale of the combined business also allows it to take a broader view of current events, enabling manufacturers to step back from their day to day operations.

“We’re suggesting, let us come in and have that 30,000ft view, to step away from the machine and say, ‘Hang on a second, let’s have an overarching view.’ It’s a chance to partner up with these key businesses that are showing some fantastic innovation. We want to be part of that process to understand exactly how we can add value to what you’re trying to achieve.”

As Industry Minister Karen Andrews said in her recent speech to the Australian Press Club, “Our manufacturers are innovators, having adapted to many challenges.” This is a sentiment that Gray knows first-hand.

“We want to acknowledge and praise innovation,” said Gray. “We want to celebrate that innovation but more importantly we want to be part of ensuring that innovation continues to foster and grow. It’s an exciting time.”