John started in his industry, doing the most gruelling of tasks in order to get ahead. “I began with cleaning 250 Fluorescent Lights, where I earnt 4 pound a week.” John says.
“After I finished the first 250, my boss asked me to do another 250 in the next site.” This was, of course, the most boring job imaginable.
“I said ‘yes’, and he gave me an apprenticeship. ‘I’ve never gotten anyone to clean all 250 lightbulbs’ he’d said.” The moral of the story? “Never knock back the first few jobs the boss gives you.”
And since then, John has taken on every job since with vigour. “You gotta challenge yourself every day you get up, or else it’s not worth it.”
It was, in the end, his father who got him into the manufacturing industry: “Dad got me a job in engineering – I loved the smell, the grease and how dirty it is. I got hooked on it, and the challenge.”
Now, Redman Repetition creates anything in engineering. “We have some military defence work, parts for automotive cars, parts for Holden and Ford, medical pieces, earring studs – all things young people stick into their skin!”
Since it origins in the family garage the company, Redmond Repetition, according to it’s website, has expanded to what it is today, a leading Victorian repetition engineering company employing 43 skilled employees and operating from a complex of 4000 square metres that houses 3 modern purpose built repetition factories.
As John is now the manager, his job involves running the business in it’s day-to-day tasks.
“I do anything from show a full plant tour – which takes over an hour – to wining and dining clients, quoting components, exports, financial meetings, accounting, profits and loss statements. But I can also drive a forklift and a truck if I need to.”
John’s day is a long one - he starts at 4am!
“I log on to the internet at home, as we get machinery from Japan and Europe, so I need to phone them at 4am. I look through my emails, then drive to work.” John says.
“For fifteen minutes, I check how the night shift went, check the video surveillance throughout the plant to see how everything went, then start taking phone calls for the day. I have at least 25 a day.”
As for creating a successful business, John advises to have a bit of business knowledge behind you.
“I used to be o the shop floor and not have to worry. If you’re in manufacturing, [study] something in hydraulics, toolmaking, electronics, Auto CAD, heat treatment and electroplating. You need the accounting side of things, just so you can quote a job – as you don’t want to be overcharging.”
“Do something in business management. I did a course in ‘Communication and Supervision’. Staff are people, not just numbers to us. Anything to do with communication. Or, these days, anything with accounting, forward planning, business administration, profit and loss.”
And with such a successful company behind him, what does John aim to do now?
“I’m walking the Kokoda Trail on the 1st of June, to raise money for my granddaughter who is profoundly deaf. I’ll turn 60 on the 6th of June, on the trail. I’m come back, I’ll have an auction and raise money for Cochlear Implant Research.”
The best part of the job?
The most rewarding part of the job is Employing 47 people, who go home to their 47 wives or girlfriends, some of whom have kids. It’s great helping the community, watching staff mature with the company. Some [people I employ] started at 16 years on an apprenticeship, who have gotten married and had kids. You watch people grow. I’ve had a few people who have been with me for over ten years. The hard part is teaching them so much, then keeping them working for you.
The hardest part of the job?
The challenges are the imports from China – as the cost of living is rising. They’re taking a lot of manufacturing jobs in the industry, which we’ve had to be mindful of, so we’ve moved into different areas, like the bone screw implants – stuff that China hasn’t touched yet.
What personal qualities are needed to create our own business?
You need to have desire, be totally driven, have massive vision, set your goals, go for it, and have a 5-Year plan. When you start up, you must multi-skill everybody, so everybody can do everything.
Advice for people entering the industry?
It’s tough! Find a niche market that you’ll be comfortable in. In engineering, open training and skills facilities. Don’t be one-dimensional, expand. Don’t just start on wheelbarrows, because you’ll be making wheelbarrows the rest of your life – look further.