So many times in Australia over the last two decades we have seen our manufacturing businesses move offshore or get swallowed up by multinationals. Upon a recent invitation to visit Roband Australia, we discovered this family owned Australian company still made catering and hospitality equipment for the world market here in the northern beaches of Sydney.
Roband employs 70 people in its Cromer factory and has remained in the manufacturing game by staying ahead with hi tech building systems and smart business management.
Roband history started 50 years ago in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, manufacturing iconic milkshake makers for the emerging café industry. Owner Lynn Carson had a vision to make all types and styles of catering equipment for the Australian market place. Roband is named after his two sons, Robert and Andrew. Robert left the business early in his career to pursue life as a chef, and Andrew is now the CEO, after his father passed away.
Andrew now manufactures at Roband hundreds of different makes and models of equipment, such as commercial toasters, deli bars, presses, grills, and still the famous milkshake makers, now made under the Roband brand. 10% of the manufactured equipment is sold overseas. The company has an office and warehouse in New Zealand, and the Kiwis are big supporters of products from the Roband range.
One year ago, Andrew relocated the factory from their site in Cromer to the neighbouring site and transformed a 6,500 square metre industrial shed into a state of the art manufacturing facility. During our visit, we had the good fortune of seeing the operation of a new hi tech laser stainless steel cutter that has greatly improved productivity. Most of the component assembly, including electronics and refrigeration, is done on site.
The nice thing about this company is that spare parts for equipment built 20 years ago can still be purchased today; and let’s face it – many cafés and restaurants are still running with this robust Aussie made equipment. Roband was the only Australian manufacturing company exhibiting at HOST in Italy last year, and there has been some big interest in the products. Roband sells some equipment in England, and they are looking forward to orders picking up again abroad as the European economy strengthens.
Roband is now focusing on telling its story to the Australian café industry, with the help of Marketing Manager, Pearly van Hulten, and National Sales Manager, Jim Kyle. The duo have been researching closely what the industry needs and looking ahead for future business development of their products. The next project we were privileged to witness was the launch of the new contact grill station, that has sharpened up the technology and aesthetics in café sandwich pressing and toasting.
One of the special things we noted during our visit was how the 70 plus workforce were so keen and cheery about their workplace. I soon figured out that the factory was only a kilometre from the beach, and the build team did half a day Friday in their shift roster. The nice new building with temperature controlled environment and a fully decked out canteen area away from the workspace was also a treat.
Roband were involved with the Café Biz expo this year and set up a working kitchen display area on the second stage area. The guest chefs made many café favourites using the Roband café range of blenders, fryers, grill station and toasters. It was a great combination of show and tell, where café owners could experience up close the equipment in action in a commercial environment. Roband has also transformed this concept at the Cromer manufacturing site, with a fully equipped commercial kitchen and a show room.
Again, we would like to congratulate the whole Roband team for supporting the Australian café industry and hope to see you leading café equipment supply for another 50 years.