The opening of Supashock’s new headquarters yesterday marks another significant step in the growth of the Adelaide-based manufacturer.
The facility, in the inner north-eastern suburb of Holden Hill, marks the first phase of Supashock’s $5 million expansion project. It will enable the further introduction of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and systems and provides an example of home-grown ideas and innovation and the importance of collaboration between industry, government (both State and Federal), and educational institutions.
Suspension systems designed and manufactured by Supashock are to be included in the Boxer CRV built by Rheinmetall – the winning bidder for Defence’s Land 400 Phase 2 project which will provide 211 vehicles to the Australian Army. And the company will also be a component of the Lynx, which Rheinmetall has proposed to provide to meet the requirement for 450 IFVs for Land 400 Phase 3. Rheinmetall is also proposing the Lynx for the US Army’s IFV program, which is about 10 times the size of Land 400 Phase 3.
Two years ago Rheinmetall, whose Electronic Division (including its defence simulation business) is co-located with Supashock’s new facility, took a 49 per cent stake in the suspension manufacturer and has been credited by some with seeing Supashock’s potential and assisting the SA company’s move into the defence sector by providing access to global supply chains and contracts that would not have otherwise been possible.
Indeed, at the opening ceremony, Rheinmetall Chairman Armin Papperger stated that Supashock Managing Director Oscar Fiorinotto took just five minutes to persuade the German of the value of a partnership with Supashock.
About half of Supashock’s production is currently devoted to the defence manufacturing sector, about one-third is for automotive mechanical manufacturing, with the remainder being for the commercial sector. Fiorinotto credits the recent growth of his company to the increase in defence exports. About 65 per cent of Supashock’s production is exported, which is up from around 10 per cent just a few years ago.
In addition to Australian customers, Supashock is also exporting to defence customers in Europe and Southeast Asia. Supashock is also deeply involved in the autonomous vehicle market and is working to provide fully active and predictive suspension technology for a US company who is the fastest growing manufacturer of those vehicles in the world.
Additional production has led to a growth in Supashock’s workforce, which is up from about two employees in 2012 to 50 workers currently, and this is expected to increase to 80 by the end of next year and more than 100 by 2024. Fiorinotto stated that to be successful it is vital to attract, develop and retain the very best staff.
Once recruited he believes that Supashock’s workers are happy due to the company’s culture and opportunity to work on high-end technology projects. Papperger seconded this enthusiasm by stating that Supashock has “great people… who have sparks in their eyes.”
To gain access to appropriately skilled people Fiorinotto mentioned the importance his company has placed in establishing strong relationships with several SA tertiary institutions. In particular, Supashock is interested in graduates and apprentices with skills in mechatronic and electrical engineering.
When asked what the most important attribute for prospective staff was, without hesitation Fiorinotto replied, “passion.” According to the Supashock founder, “you hire for character and can train for skill.”