Adelaide-based Seeley International has been manufacturing air conditioners in Australia since Founder and Executive Chairman Frank Seeley AM first established the company back in 1972.
Today the family-owned business can lay claim to a growing number of world-first cooling and heating solutions; it has an overflowing awards cabinet in recognition of its innovation commitment, and the company exports around 40 per cent of its products to 120 countries, including USA and Europe, The Middle East and Africa.
The ethos of the company is firmly rooted in research and development, with an unwavering commitment to be the first to market with new technology in its main product categories of evaporative cooling and ducted gas heating.
“To see Australia’s manufacturing sector survive and flourish we need to actively support Aussie ingenuity and start setting the pace in what is a highly competitive global environment,” Founder and Executive Chairman Mr Frank Seeley AM tells the AAMC.
“What local manufacturers must do is embed innovation into their DNA, and introduce higher levels of automation into their production processes. As a sector we need to be less risk adverse and more willing to try something different, and while not everything will be a success it still provides learning opportunities,” he says.
The business’s annual revenue now sits at around $1/4 billion and the goal to boost sales to $1 billion is materialising with every move the company makes.
“Seeley International has a roadmap to take the company to $1 billion. That goal motivates the organisation to grow, which will mean multiple manufacturing sites will be needed in Australia and throughout the world to support the increased sales volumes,” says Mr Seeley.
He says this ambitious target will be achieved via a combination of acquisition and organic growth, and is underpinned by innovation across the entire company – a critical key to the company’s success, which he has embraced from the very beginning.
“Our production costs might be higher in Australia, but we live in one of the greatest countries in the world – and to compensate for higher costs, we must innovate like there is no tomorrow, and progressively embrace world class technology automation,” says Mr Seeley.
“It is also important to have the right people, and Seeley International goes to great lengths to attract only the very best employees. As an example, our engineering team has close to 50 staff, and is diverse with mechanical and aeronautical engineering capability, as well as microbiologists, product design engineers and electronics specialists.”
Its “Imagineering” team – personally headed up by Mr Seeley – is dedicated to bringing over-the-horizon products to market, today.
As part of its ongoing commitment to stringent quality control and standards, Seeley International makes and designs its own electric motors, plastic injection moulding components, sheet metal components, and has also designed its electronic control systems.
Over the last decade our manufacturing has made significant investment into the development of the multi award-winning Climate Wizard products. These evaporative cooling systems use heat exchangers to cool the air without adding any moisture to the delivered air. These systems can produce temperatures and climate conditions capable of rivalling refrigerated products, while using far less energy to do so.
“We are starting to get a lot of traction, particularly from overseas markets, for those advanced products like Climate Wizard, and today we export all over the world, including South Africa, USA and Europe,” Mr Seeley says.
Seeley International manufactures these products, some of which are as large as shipping containers, at purpose-built factories in Adelaide and Albury, and tests them through a state-of-the-art $1.5m NATA-accredited testing facility.
The products developed by Seeley International are the most energy-efficient in the world and potentially hold the solution to help energy suppliers bring down their total peak loads on the grid systems, reducing the required infrastructure and ultimately the cost to consumers.
“Seeley International is proof that the Australian manufacturing industry has a bright future – and Australian businesses have to realise that they could do much more to recreate their own destinies,” Mr Seeley says.
For Australian manufacturers wanting to replicate Seeley International’s success, Mr Seeley says it is vital that quality and reliability are also optimised.
“Products have to be better, they have to be more reliable and need to have features and benefits that can differentiate them from the rest of the market.”