In a Spin
Vinyl Factory is Australia’s only vinyl record manufacturer capable of automated pressings. There is one other record manufacturer in Melbourne, but they are smaller and work on manual presses. The company has the capacity to make 1.5 million records a year.
Digital technology has seen more consumers move towards CDs and then MP3s to consume music. While records are still popular, particularly in certain subcultures of the music industry, the product is still niche. There is also a lot of skill and knowledge required to work the vinyl press machines properly, so new competitors do not enter the market very often due to a shrinking knowledge base.
Their customers fall into four key markets: collectors who love the large vinyl format, those who are obsessed with the superior sound quality of records, indie punk and retro bands who like the retro feel, and DJs who want viny for their gigs.
There are five people working at The Vinyl Factory including Andy (who is officially the Managing Director but actually just does anything that needs to be done), Michael who is in sales and distribution, and Toby, who works in the factory and is being trained by Andy about how to use the machines.
Andy left school early but finished his HSC at TAFE. He then became a trainee drafts person but gave it up to study engineering at university. He’s never really worked in that industry for long though. He then picked up a trade as a sail-maker on boats and developed a love of sailing. He became a competitive professional yachtsman for some time. He’d always been passionate about music and played in bands when he was younger, eventually moving into DJ-ing and developing an appreciation for vinyl. Through his sailing, he met the owner of a UK company called the Vinyl Factory and they soon started discussing plans to open a vinyl plant in Australia.
In 2005 he spent a week in the UK learning how to use the presses from someone who had decades of experience with the machines. He’s since taught himself a few things over the years, and is in constant contact with the guys in the UK about the machines should a problem ever arise. After his training in the UK, he shipped two vinyl presses to Australia, and spent time putting them together himself. Although he doesn't DJ anymore – he considers himself too old – he still collects vinyl to this day, and jokes that CDs (except for the purpose of getting material from clients) are banned at the Vinyl Factory.