When Parish Engineering was established in Moorabbin, Victoria 75 years ago, WWII was still raging across Europe and reaching down into the South Pacific.
Parish Engineering was contracted by the Australian government to supply the allies with vital munitions components.
The company began in 1932 as a family-owned business, but the demands of the war saw it expand into a proprietary limited company in 1944 and grow from eight employees in 1940 to over 40 six years later. After the war, the company was an integral part of Australia’s manufacturing boom, becoming a regional supplier of component parts to Holden.
In 1968 Bill Parish decided to sell the company. Graeme Sinclair was employed as an engineer at Parish and with a partner purchased the company in 1980. Graeme’s daughter Nicole Sinclair joined the business as an engineer in 2006, and Graeme’s business partner sold his shares to the Sinclair family in 2008, with Nicole now CEO.
With the manufacturing sector currently employing close to a million people in Australia, rumours of the death of Australian manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated, Parish CEO Nicole Sinclair suggests.
“When automotive manufacturers like Holden and Toyota closed their facilities in 2017, it seemed to many people like the last gasp of manufacturing in Australia,” Sinclair said. “It looked like everything was being offshored, and that the age of good jobs and certainty was over, but that’s not the case.
“The reality is that not only did Australian manufacturing survive, it has changed, as have global production chains. Today, manufacturing is returning to industrialised nations like Australia.”
With global wages rising and the increasingly sophisticated nature of modern manufacturing, manufacturers are looking for nations to have an advanced IT infrastructure, highly educated workers to operate the machinery, and to produce goods in close access to the markets in which those goods are sold.
As part of that manufacturing resurgence, Parish Engineering is expanding too, purchasing truck air brake fittings manufacturer Longworth Engineering in 2016. The company now supplies parts to Thales’ munitions sector and to Mackay Consolidated Industries.
And there are plans afoot for the company to invest heavily in staff and machines.
“We want to ensure the company looks to the future with the same innovative spirit and enthusiasm that Graeme Sinclair and Bill Parish have demonstrated over the past 75 years in the industry,” Sinclair said. “And that’s very much in line with the vibrant future for Australian manufacturing more broadly.
“Australian manufacturing is already world leading in many areas, such as aeronautics and advanced medical technology. What we need people to understand is how vibrant that future is, and how much better it can be with government support in education and training, investment, research and development, and trade opportunities.”