NSW-owned company Brumby Aircraft hit some turbulence during the pandemic but a clever pivot has led to exciting new opportunities.
Before the pandemic hit, manufacturing goods from a factory in China made sense for many businesses, including Brumby Aircraft, which has its home base in Cowra near Sydney’s Blue Mountains.
After developing an accredited aircraft model at home, this company opened an overseas manufacturing facility and was thriving, until COVID hit. Within two years, the cost of manufacturing and shipping from China doubled. The result of shipping container delays and expanded costs caused a lot of stress for owner Paul Goard.
“The people who buy my planes are anyone from farmers to training schools to private individuals,” Paul explains, “They are used for a range of purposes and purchased by people all over Australia but the challenge that has arisen is fulfilling orders in a timely way. Manufacturing in China used to be cheap and easy. Now, it’s expensive and slow.”
Instead of giving up, Paul noticed that the change in the economy and conditions presented an opportunity to pivot. Now, his Cowra facility is focused on manufacturing some planes at home, but also extending local manufacturing capabilities to produce parts and equipment for other industries. This is where ICN NSW comes in.
Connecting with opportunities through ICN
As Paul explains, “We have a range of skills at our local facility, from welding to painting and machining. I’m able to move away from only focusing on aviation to become a supplier for industries like defence and alternative power (such as wind farms). The team at ICN will share knowledge and connect me with the supply chain so I can look at tenders and expand into new areas.”
In the past, Paul has not identified many suitable opportunities on tender platforms. When he connected with ICN, he saw a lot more potential to get things going. “Tendering sites weren’t helpful but David from ICN has really opened our eyes to what’s out there.”
“They seem really professional,” he adds, “And you have people you can talk to like David, who will take the time to come to you and go through things. You don’t get that elsewhere.”
By relocating manufacturing to his location in Australia, Paul is also excited to create jobs for the local area. “We’ve put plans into council to double our factory, which is already big,” he says, “We’re looking forward to focusing on commercial manufacturing, and we have the machinery and the manpower to make almost anything.”
A step change for a better future
Paul’s business invested a great deal into his factory in China but changing times mean it will take a while to see the returns. In the meantime, he is focused on building his profile on ICN.
“We can do things like composite, spray painting and metal fabricationhere at the Cowra factory,” he says. The variety at ICN will help him to reach the organisations in need of these services.
Paul is also excited to see manufacturing becoming localised again. “Back in 2014, there was no way you would manufacture in Australia due to the costs,” he says, “After COVID, I can see manufacturing rising very quickly and not going back. People talk about manufacturing in other countries like India and Vietnam but it’s a lot of work to get set up overseas. I believe manufacturing in Australia will always be dominant from now on. The pride in buying Australian-made and owned has also always been big, and the other benefit is shorter turnaround times.”
Paul is excited to expand into new manufacturing opportunities. “We have so many skills and we have the talent here in Cowra, where we originally built our first planes. I’m very confident about ICN and I’ll be relying on their help to get the right ‘veins’ out into the right places.”
ICN NSW is proud to support Australian-based manufacturing businesses as they search for contracts and opportunities. Contact us to find out more.