With the demise of local car manufacturing, many companies that previously supplied automotive components have had to diversify into other areas to grow their businesses.
Ace Wire Works is one such company that has successfully made the transition from supplying automotive products such as the wire seat frames for the Toyota Camry, to a diverse product range that now includes retail display stands, welded mesh panels, horticulture products, food and beverage equipment, designer furniture and wire and mesh products for medical applications.
Founded by Albert Blashki in 1954, Ace remains family run with Albert’s son Philip now the owner and Managing Director, and with grandson Simon also involved makes it a third generation for the company, which now employs approximately 40 staff.
General Manager Sam Harris joined the company around two years ago with the specific edict of assisting the company transition away from automotive to non-automotive products. To say that it has been a success is something of an understatement, with growth of these products up over 50% in the current financial year.
Harris attributes the company’s ongoing success to a few key factors, in particular, the fact that Ace specialises in high quality customised products in sometimes relatively low production volumes.
“With our own internal designers to assist with CAD drawings and designing prototypes, we can offer customers a comprehensive and personalised service to meet their needs and make sure that we meet or exceed their expectations,” he says. “This is especially relevant in the competitive retail segment.”
“The personal one-on-one service that we provide is something our customers really appreciate, as it gives them a higher level of confidence to in turn offer the best service to their clients. Really it’s about having empathy for our customers and building strong relationships,” adds Harris.
The increase in display products includes projects for a number of major retailers and is what drove Sam Harris to look at a fibre laser. “We were outsourcing more and more laser work which was affecting our lead times and our control of the total manufacturing process and the time was right to get our own laser,” he adds.
The new Yawei HLE and HLF fibre lasers have earned a reputation for high performance coupled with a value-for-money price point. Harris first saw the Yawei at the Applied Machinery Stand at Austech 2017 and compared the features with various other laser cutters in the market.
Yawei is well known as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC pressbrakes, turret punch presses and guillotines and its entrance into the laser cutting market is off the back of years of R&D and refinement of the machines in the domestic market.
For Harris, the key factors that put the Yawei in front were the outstanding features and performance, ease of use and like all Yawei equipment, value for money. He was also impressed with the advice and support that Applied Machinery had given him throughout the purchase process - something only a local distributor can provide.
“The fact that Applied Machinery were literally just around the corner was an important factor for us. The installation went very smoothly and the back up and support has been great,” he adds.
After only a few months Harris is pleased with what the Yawei offers Ace. “The Yawei has reduced our lead times, increased flexibility in production planning and broadened the range of products we can offer our customers. Also, the speed and accuracy of the fiber laser means we are saving huge amounts of production time.”
As an added bonus, the purchase of the fibre laser was supported by the state government through its LIFT programme (Local Industry Fund for Transition), which specifically caters to ex automotive companies to support them in their transition to developing non-automotive business and provide employment for qualified employees exiting the automotive sector.
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