This REDARC story first began when Anthony and Michele Kittel decided to purchase the business following the premature death of its founder Robert ‘Bob’ Mackie Williams.
A place like no other
REDARC’s first home was in Blackwood from 1979 until 1986. Then called Labservice, the business was operating in a house shared with a real estate agent.
“We had two rooms and a ‘sleepout’ as the production area’”, says Lex Clarke, who was already with the business when Anthony had purchased it.
“The entrance hallway was a store, and one room was an office. There were five assemblers, one store person, a secretary and the owner/manager/engineer.”
David Downie recalls how lucky he was to land a job after he moved from Scotland to forge a better life down under in 1987.
“I was lucky enough to acquire a job with a small electronics company that had around 8 people and a part time gardener. He was a goat called Bunter, who kept the backyard tidy. Things have changed a lot since then.”
Previous blackwood facility
Moving on up
Over the years, a need for more space to cater for an ever-growing team prompted moves to a larger house in Lonsdale in 1987 and then a larger building in 1995, both in the Lonsdale area.
“Back in those days, a lot of it was very hands on, lots of manual labour”, recalls Thanh Bui. “I remember having to cut heatsinks, solder a lot of components, testing and make our own looms from scratch since we didn’t have a supplier back then. A lot has changed now, things are a lot easier but we’re still keeping busy.”
Caterina agrees, saying that one shed served to cut, drill and puncture aluminium sheets and another shed was used to assemble and varnish heatsinks, all from start to finish. “I worked four days a week, and Friday would be a half day dedicated to cleaning. Everyone wore many hats at REDARC.”
Previous home in Lindsay street
Not long after, REDARC was once again on the move (with the business name officially changed) and this time to a bigger location in Heath Street in 2002.
“Each place got better with every move, but it seemed after 6 months we outgrew it again!”, recalled Paul Savage.
REDARC moved a total of 4 times, before purchasing a greenfield site and commissioning the construction of a purpose-built state of the art facility in Lonsdale in 2005. Today REDARC employs over 170 staff.
Current factory facility, Brodie Road, Lonsdale
Creating an iconic brand
Innovation, a passion for learning and a dedicated team based culture were the foundations for building the REDARC brand. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but having a small group of people who lived and breathed the ‘customer is king’ ethos has paved the way for future staff to follow.
“I’ve been in the workforce for 50 years. In all that time, I’ve only ever been with four companies, and REDARC has been the longest. I just never had a reason to leave. When Anthony and Michele bought the business 20 years ago, they put everything on the line. And look at REDARC now. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come”, says Barbara Cromwell.
“I’ve been at REDARC for 29 years and when I first started it was a small workplace. I’m proud to be part of REDARC. I admire Anthony’s vision for the business, and what he and Michele did to build this wonderful company”, Caterina added.
From left to right: Thanh Bui, Lex Clarke, Caterina Taylor, Marcelle Simpson, Desmond Hutchinson, Paul Savage (back), David Downie, Barbara Cromwell
The original 8
As leaders and innovators, REDARC has not only been recognised in the industry through various awards but above all has created a remarkable team environment.
At REDARC, we always talk about the original 8, who were the people who helped transform the business to what it is known for today, and some of these staff members are still with REDARC more than 30 years on.
Lex Clarke – Customer Service Technician
Lex has held many roles in his last 32 years at REDARC. Starting out as a Technician, then Production Manager, then a Senior Technician, he now works with the Technical Support Team and is a respected member here at REDARC. “Work has always been interesting and varied -as the original job advertisement promised. The team environment here at REDARC makes it a great place to work.”
David Downie – Production Team Leader
David has spent his 30 years at REDARC in Production; in his earlier years, he worked in general assembly where he eventually became a Production Supervisor. Today he is a Production Team Leader and, unofficially the ‘go-to-guy’ in production due to his extensive knowledge of REDARC and its products. “Not only have I been lucky enough to work with people that I consider friends for life, but I have truly enjoyed my time here.”
Barbara Cromwell – Finance Coordinator
Barbara is our Financer Coordinator, the one in charge of our payroll, and an integral member of the REDARC family. Barbara has been with the business for 30 years and says REDARC is like family to her. “I am indeed privileged to be part of REDARC’s journey. During this time, we have weathered the turbulence of economic times and as a result REDARC has grown bigger and stronger through excellent management and the firm belief that ‘the customer is king’.”
Paul Savage – Production Improvement Support
Paul Savage started with REDARC in 1993. He’s held many roles over those years, starting out as an Electronics Technician and gradually moving up to his current role as Production Improvement Technician. “I love working at REDARC. The job security is fantastic, there’s a good variety of work and I get to work with people that I see as family. Anthony and Michele just keep making it bigger and better.”
Thanh Bui – SMT Operator
Thanh joined the REDARC team back in 1994. With 23 years’ experience, he’s always enjoyed working with electronics and being hands on as an assembler. He now works as an operator in Surface Mount Technology. “When I first started here, I wasn’t sure what the future would hold for REDARC but Anthony was able to transform the business into a successful one” he says. “What we achieved, just wouldn’t be possible in today’s climate, and for that Anthony and REDARC should be proud.”
Caterina Taylor – Production Operator
Caterina is a Production Operator and has been with the company for 30 years. Back in those days, she remembers the hard manual labour involved in manufacturing our older products, Electric Trailer Brake Controllers and Voltage Reducers, even having to handwrite labels! But she says she loves keeping busy. “I love working here! I look forward to coming to work because the environment is great, everyone is so friendly and we have such a strong family culture thanks to Anthony and Michele.”
Marcelle Simpson and Desmond Hutchinson were the other two members who formed the original 8. Although they are no longer with REDARC, we acknowledge the hardwork they put in into shaping REDARC to what it is today.
The story continues
We’ve made many moves over our history and continue to add new staff to this family run business. We’re gearing up for another big change, with our facility expansion set to be completed in 2018. The expansion will see us add nearly an extra 2,000 sqm of manufacturing space and nearly double our workforce over the next four years.
One thing that has not changed however is our passion and dedication towards manufacturing and designing innovative market leading products right here in Australia. In the next blog we’ll look at how these products have evolved and made REDARC a leader in innovation, as well as take an inside look into where REDARC is today.