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April 18, 2024

‘Lights out’ for local manufacturer (in a good way)

They’re a company you’re unlikely to have heard of, making aluminium components you’ll probably never see. Now, Bespoke Manufacturing Group is shooting for defence and space industry work, and moving toward manufacturing in the dark.

Bespoke Manufacturing Group founder and managing director Robert Statham has big plans for his Melrose Park company.

It has experienced huge growth over the past two years – including doubling turnover in the last one – and Robert says they’re now actively targeting new markets locally, in the UK and in the US.


Find out where else we’re leading the way when this year’s
40 Under 40 awards are announced.
Read more about the award program here.

Substantial recent investments, including a new CNC robotic arm, will help to further increase output and move the company toward lights out manufacturing in years to come. The plan is to upskill their expanding workforce to assist with programming all of the CNCs, rather that operate them.

Meanwhile, they’re testing the newly installed hard anodising facilities and Robert anticipates they’ll be ready to go by the start of the new financial year.

This launch couldn’t happen too soon – the company’s workforce has grown in 16 months from 4 to more than 20 staff, and they’ve extended the length of shifts and added a Saturday shift.

Bespoke Manufacturing Group comprises Bespoke Aluminium, which handles the design and distribution of aluminium extrusions, and Key Manufacturing, the manufacturing arm. Its specialties include aluminium extrusions, heatsinks, enclosures and related products for high-end electronics companies.

“We find ourselves being the manufacturer behind the brand [and] that’s where we position ourselves,” says Robert, who was named in InDaily and CityMag’s 40 Under 40 awards last year, joining the state’s other young entrepreneurs and leaders in the prestigious alumni group. “We do a lot locally and we’re very proud of that.”

At the moment around 70 per cent of the manufacturing group’s work is for the local market, with customers including Rinnai, Codan, Minelab, Redarc, Department of Defence and Bosch. The balance is interstate and overseas, and they landed their first UK customer around seven months ago.

It’s all in the detail…

Bespoke Manufacturing Group is also targeting the South Australia’s defence, mining and space industries, with the manufacturer occupying a locally-uncontested space in the supply chain for bright anodised and, now, hard anodised coatings.

Hard anodised coatings – at up to 50 microns thick, more than double that of standard anodising – provide an extremely tough and durable finish with very high heat, corrosion and electrical resistance. They’re primarily used in in defence and mining applications, but offer potential use in the ever-growing local space sector.

Bright anodising is typically used for products requiring high visual appeal and a high-end finish. The Australian Good Design Awards’ trophies incorporate the company’s work.

Bright anodising, both beautiful and rare in SA

“Our brand is developing,” Robert says, “and I think a lot of our work comes from our obsession with offering a high level of service with a full turnkey solution”.

That solution includes custom extrusions, anodising, powder coating, CNC, precision recutting, surface finishing and assembly – a combination that is “rare nationally, let alone in South Australia”.

Robert is keen to support the development of Australia’s sovereign state capabilities, as well as local manufacturing in the state, and said defence companies like BAE Systems and space start-ups are on his radar.

A UK expat, he has a background in industrial design and has worked primarily with aluminium “basically ever since finishing university”. In the UK, he worked in similar markets with similar applications. “From industrial to product-based companies, the automotive sector to window system manufacturers – a really broad range,” he says.

But since emigrating to Australia in 2011, he’s focused on aluminium extrusions particularly in the high-end components finishing and electrical component manufacturing. It’s a decision that has paid off.

“We’ve got huge aspirations to maintain our rapid growth, which is exciting and good fun for me as the owner and founder,” Robert says. “And we’re constantly adding team members as we grow, so it’s great to see the employment that we’re offering locally, which I’m very proud of as it’s very important to me.”

He lives by the rule of ‘incremental progress’, saying it’s important for the business to constantly progress, grow and innovate. He also has those ambitions for his supply partners.

“We’re all about customer solutions – how can we help the customer move forward with their supply needs – and that makes the job fun and fulfilling.”

Judging is now underway for this year’s InDaily and CityMag’s 40 Under 40 awards, with winners to be announced on 27 June 2024.

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