It’s been an Australian success story since its genesis in a suburban laundry just over 60 years ago. But in the past five years (not to mention various growth spurts prior) Ego Pharmaceuticals has taken it to another level – more than doubling its staff and investing $14.6 million into the expansion of its Melbourne production facility.
The multi-million investment will enable the skincare products business to double its bottle filling capacity across the business, and marks its biggest production expansion to date.
In another sign of confidence in the future, Ego in 2013 purchased 9.5 hectares of land in Dandenong South, which will eventually house all of Ego’s Melbourne operations in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing centre.
Due to its recent growth, Ego’s operations are currently spread over two Melbourne locations.
Ego now sells 120 skincare products to 23 countries, and employs 470 staff in 10 nations including Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Each Ego product is developed made and tested at its centre in Braeside, Melbourne.
But it all began in 1953, when a young chemist, Gerald Oppenheim, and his wife Rae, a nurse, decided there was a need for products to restore and maintain healthy skin.
They first developed a bath solution which later became known as Pinetarsol – still one of Australia’s most widely used inflammation treatments and a product likely familiar to any Australian child who ever suffered chickenpox.
Since that early success, Ego has continued to research and develop new products.
When Gerald Oppenheim died in 1995, he left Ego to his family. One of his two sons now heading the business, managing director Alan Oppenheim, says Ego has long been at the forefront of new technology and investing for the future.
He says the company’s latest investment will enable it to create 63 new manufacturing jobs in Victoria, and continue boosting its export markets.
“In February we commence our first night shift enabling 24-hour production; it’s a very exciting growth period for Ego and our staff,” Mr Oppenheim said.
About 30 per cent of the business now revolves around exporting its products, including SunSense sunscreen and QV Skincare , to countries including Saudi Arabia – Ego’s largest overseas market. The aim is to reach 50 per cent, but the overseas push needs to be balanced with Ego’s growth in Australia.
The recent $14.6 million investment into its Braeside production facility will enable Ego to produce more of its Aqium Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser. The company plans to export hand sanitiser to meet demands in the Middle East once the capacity to manufacture the product has been expanded with the new facility.
Mr Oppenheim believes it is also crucial for Australia to have its own manufacturing facility making hand sanitiser, particularly in the case of any potential virus outbreak.