Adam Furphy’s Q&A with the SCA Journal
In the June issue, we ran the feature Story “The Furphy Generations”. Here is our follow up Q&A with Adam Furphy, Managing Director of J. Furphy & Sons, which was started by his great, great grandfather. Today, together with his wife and 3 children, Adam lives and works in Shepparton, in regional Victoria, where the company has been based since 1873.
Tell us about yourself…
I am a Mechanical Engineer by qualification, now running the family business in Shepparton. I am married with 3 young children aged between 10 and 14. I was born in Shepparton and have spent most of my life here apart from some time at boarding school, university, travel and working prior to commencing with the family business.
How has Furphy’s grown or changed over the last few years?
We have substantially deepened our knowledge/expertise in stainless steel tank and vessel design and manufacture considerably and have upgraded our workshops commensurate with that. We aim to ensure that our facilities and our engineering capabilities are the best available for the work we do.
What do you see as the number one concern for your business?
Confidence. As a manufacturer, our sales are mainly coming from the customers’ capital budget. Some of this is spending that is necessary for one reason or other but confidence is critical. It is easy to hold off or say no – even if it is the wrong thing to do.
How do you see the internet driving future business growth?
Well it’s an old story but the internet really shifts the dial on the rate of change. The impacts are everywhere. Equipment that was hard to source is easier – leading to efficiency and quality improvements. Customers see global products and demand them from local suppliers – this forces innovation and change.
What one change would you like to see by the federal government to assist Australian
Improved enforcement of manufacturing standards to avoid lower quality imported product being chosen for Australian projects over compliant Australian products. There are countless examples of non-compliant product occurring which is of great disappointment to Australian manufacturers who by and large would
never be able to supply such non-compliant product and get away with it – nor would they want to. We have strong and robust standards developed over many years but too often the compliance to these of imported product is fabricated or paid lip-service to.
There has been much talk about the skills shortages in Australian manufacturing, what is your view on this?
As a long-time provider of apprenticeships, we know full well the necessity of training staff in order to have the skills available on a sustainable basis. For a range of reasons, it has been increasingly difficult for traditional industries such as ours to maintain an ongoing skill base and this has resulted in the types of solutions that have been common in recent years. As far as our business is concerned – we have continued to maintain a strong local apprenticeship program as well as recruitment of trained and experienced
staff under a visa program. It has been of great benefit to our business that the option of recruiting tradesmen from other parts of the world has been available.
We hear Furphy’s has partnered with Little Creatures brewery to produce “Furphy Refreshing Ale” Tell us more.
Little Creatures have been a customer of ours for many years. We manufactured several of their brewery vessels in Fremantle and when they made the move to Victoria we manufactured all their new tanks for the brewery in Geelong. Little Creatures approached us to discuss the idea of using the Furphy name as a beer brewed in Victoria from all Victorian ingredients. Furphy Refreshing Ale is going well and we are hoping there will be more tanks to build in future!
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