Australian designed and manufactured. Or not?

09 Mar 2022

Over the last 6 months I have been asked on several occasions, “which country do you buy your stainless steel products from?” and then looked surprised when the answer is that we make our stainless steel products in Australia and not source it all from China.

Clients ask, “Is that true?” I find it odd that people still don’t really believe you even when they are given the answer directly from the “horse’s mouth”.  It’s clear many people, not the least our own clients, have absolutely no concept of where our products come from, or more importantly, know anything about the people who are creating them; so we thought we would clear a few things up. I have lost count of the number of times our customers have said our products are far superior in quality and design than our competitors.


Here are some truths about Emery Industries

Directly downstairs from where I am sitting in the Emery Industries Gold Coast factory, is where our production manager sits and manages our manufacturing team who are on the other side of his wall and who are all 100% employed by Emery Industries. The majority of this team are stainless steel sheet metal workers. They are cutting, bending, welding, grinding and polishing stainless steel products, every day. Emery Industries is a family-owned and operated business for the last 10 years manufacturing stainless steel products and we are committed to maintaining a strong Australian manufacturing presence.

To answer the question, do we make everything we sell? Some of these components do come from overseas due to much lower labour costs; however we do seek to purchase locally whenever we can.

The influx of imported stainless steel products in recent years has changed the market’s perception of what constitutes a fair and reasonable price point for some items. For the most part these are high volume ‘standard’ products that importers/distributors have found opportunity to source from Asia and sell into the Australian market in volume. To stay competitive and assure the long term viability of our position in the market, we have had to acknowledge and react to this change where necessary, or suffer the consequences.

If you want to get a product that is to meet a specific requirement (like it has to fit into the space and be able to store these products safely and hygienically), we are able to create bespoke designed solutions to meet your requirements. The old saying of good tradesman don’t blame the tools is true to a point, but when there is a better tool that makes the job quicker, easier and more enjoyable to use, you are going to get a much better end result.

Let’s not be fooled here, it is all about giving the best level of patient care, and we know our products have all been designed and manufactured with this in mind.


Getting the balance right

The market often forces us to source some products (like our wire shelving and baskets) where contractors and builders do not understand the different requirements in the medical industry, and are happy to push the cheapest product on their clients, with no consideration of suitability for the intended application. They don’t have to use it, so it purely becomes a decision related to margin for them.

Given this trend to push more and more products into builder’s packages, if we didn’t seek to find the best most competitive products at the right price point, we would most likely be employing less Australian workers, as we would have to cut our cost base to remain commercially viable. Getting this mix of locally designed and manufactured products and externally sourced products is a constant juggling act that we must perform to keep our workforce gainfully employed.

Important Note: When you buy any Emery Industries product, you are directly helping to maintain our Australian manufacturing team.

Going back to our wire shelving and baskets, it is important to note that these goods are made to our specifications to meet the demands of our market, and not some perceived requirements for third world markets. Our market demands the best, but doesn’t want to pay the price tag to have the products made here, so this is the best compromise we have available to us.


What does our Market expect?

There seems to be a shift in expectations from realizing it takes 2-4 weeks to manufacture your product, to we want it tomorrow for half the price. Most of this expectation has been set for generic products and the internet. This is due to the large volume of imported standard products, that in most cases you just put up with. It’s kind of a negative way to approach life, especially when it is actually a better decision to buy the right product the first time that is designed for your application that makes life easier and quicker, with fewer injuries. That is the good commercial sense that more decision makers need to be employing if they are serious about looking after their staff and creating a more profitable business environment. The life cycle of a product should be one of the key selection considerations.

I read a book (“Living next door to a Millionaire” by Thomas J. Stanley) a few years back that opened my mind to the realization that the guy/gal, who buys the car he/she wants, keeps it for 10 years and looks after it, is considerably better off than the guy to buys a cheap car and turns it over every 2-3 years to keep up with the trends. We follow this ethos everyday with every investment and procurement decision.

With that in mind and before you read on, if you’re a specifier or purchaser of stainless steel products, a contractor or a distributor, let me ask you, where do the stainless steel products you normally buy/specify really come from? From an Australian company probably, but who is being paid and trusted to fabricate them? How do you personally feel about the importance of supporting Australian manufacturing, of helping to keep Australian trades people employed and supporting our economy by buying from companies who employ and provide jobs to Australian trades people? The truth is, whilst there’s a lot of companies selling stainless steel products, the vast majority don’t actually make what they sell, nor do the products they sell get made in Australia. Today I saw on the website of an ‘Australian owned and operated’ company selling stainless steel products, a statement that they can custom manufacture a range of products for your next project. What if I was to say this company didn’t employ a single stainless steel sheet metal worker and that their ‘factory’ is in reality more like a ‘warehouse’ filled with products imported from Asia (mostly China) and that any ‘custom manufactured’ products they sold were really sub-contracted out to another undisclosed fabricator? Is that misleading? I don’t know the answer. It’s just a question. Yes, this is misleading, so why don’t you ask them for a factory tour next time?


A snapshot of the Emery Industries factory in action

On a daily basis I take a walk through our manufacturing facility to see what products are going through the production line, to see what new manufacturing methods we’re utilising, to see what custom designs our clients are requesting, to find out what part of the world our products are being sent to and just to say “good morning” to our manufacturing team, some of whom have worked here for over 7 years. Walking through the factory Just Now, I saw the SS11 2 Drawer Dressing Trolley being made and others ready for shipment.