A realization that it manufactures wire, not car parts, has helped Multi Slide Industries face the impending closure of the automotive industry in Australia.
The multi-million dollar South Australian company manufactured car seat frames for Holden, critical parts for Mitsubishi and Toyota, metal bucket handles, wine racks, air conditioning components, supporting brackets for a range of items from air conditioners to gutters and was a major player with white goods supply chains including Electrolux.
But the closure of Mitsubishi and planned shutdown of Holden, combined with the loss of some contracts to cheaper, offshore manufacturing, meant Multi Slide Industries needed to reinvent itself - or close its doors.
“The decline of the automotive sector had a significant impact on our business and still continues to drive revenues down,’’ Multi Slide Industries general manager Al Kalvaitis said.
“Our business had contracted to from being one of the largest employers in suburban Adelaide to operating a single shift with only 38 employees.”
The company had to think and act quickly, pursuing new business opportunities to stay relevant and profitable.
He said the company’s very high skill base and world leading wire forming technology has forged a reputation for providing leading edge technology and excellence.
“When we found ourselves needing to diversify in to other areas quickly, we drew on those strengths and abilities,’’ Mr Kalvaitis said.
One of Multi Slide Industries key expansion areas has been in the agricultural sector.
The company uses the same machinery as it did to make automotive components – CNC (Computer Numerical Control) wire forming and mechanical wire and strip-forming equipment – to manufacture products used to train and grow vines for the wine industry as well as hot house infrastructure and irrigation solutions.
“Some of our new products include tree guards, fencing, specialist mesh and orchid clips, just to name a few,’’ Kalvaitis said.
“We also supply wire trays and shelving to Heatlie, which in turn will be fitted in to the new air warfare destroyers being built here in South Australia.’’
Kalvaitis said that automation and clever technology and materials will inevitably see less numbers employed in the factory but the front end of the business in engineering will grow by designing and developing products for the Australian and international market.
“Our mantra is ‘there is a bit of wire in everything we touch’,” he said.
“We are confident the tide is turning back toward manufacturers who understand the client intimately and deliver services that the customer desires, not providing a sausage factory mentality. At the moment we process over 2000 tons of stainless steel, galvanised, spring and hard drawn, low carbon wire each year.”
Kalvaitis said the business is also well adept in supporting entrepreneurs needing help and support to develop their ideas.
“They know what they desire in a product but don’t have the capability to realise the potential, that’s where we can step in,” he said. “There are many products that we currently produce that were nothing more than a sketch and after full development, are now used regularly within the agriculture, building and construction or manufacturing industry.”