After more than four decades in business, Bolts & Industrial Supplies is still breaking new ground, recently opening a new store in Dandenong South, Vic. We spoke to the company’s Managing Director Andrew Rodgers.

AMT: How did Bolts & Industrial Supplies start out in the industry?

Andrew Rodgers: Bolts & Industrial Supplies has been in business for over 40 years. Incorporated in 1973 by founding partner John Rodgers, the business is still in the Rodgers family to this day. Since then we’ve served the engineering community of Australia with a strong sense of pride and customer service that simply cannot be beaten.

The company has been moulded into what it is today by providing high-quality Australian-made products at a respectable price, top-notch service and reliable, timely delivery. No matter which industry you’re in – aerospace, automotive, die & mould, general engineering, construction or just day-to-day hardware – we’ve got you covered with a tool to suit your needs. We have over 60 staff specialising in various fields, working hand in hand with over 200 suppliers, providing the best technical information possible to enhance performance and productivity.

AMT: And what about more recent developments?

AR: The future for us is in engineering supplies, particularly cutting tools and associated products. Over the last two years we’ve become the major distributor for Kennametal Metalworking. For over 10 years Kennametal Metalworking have been moving worldwide towards a distributor-focused supply chain, and have recognised the benefit of the end user being able to purchase a range of products from one supplier, minimising paperwork and adding value. Added to this is that we can offer technical support through our sales engineers, in person or by phone. It’s my expectation that more and more suppliers will move this may – the savings and value-added benefits far outweigh the costs.

Sutton Tools will be a big focus for us this year as well. We’ve always been a strong supporter of Sutton Tools. They export a world-class product to the major players in the cutting tool world. Frustratingly, they don’t enjoy the same recognition in their home country, and we plan to change that. Through technology and technical support, we’ll be opening up every end user to the biggest stock and range in the country. Online ordering directly through web portals direct to the end user. We’re very excited to be driving this. With Sutton Tools now directed once again by the Sutton family the future is looking very bright.

One area of focus for us is the ability to supply SMEs just as we would large organisations. We’ve achieved this by negotiating stock levels, implementing stock management systems and adjusting our sales engineers’ call plans to actively encourage growth with our customers’ businesses.

AMT: Tell us how you approach delivering value for your customers.

AR: This is one area we have built the company around. All of our sales engineers have a trade background and all of them have at least ten years’ experience. Our phone sales staff and counter staff have the support of an internal network of 60 people to call on from various industry back grounds and are always willing to help each other. We place a lot of value on training and education and regularly conduct in house courses in everything from products to management!

Value for money is always a difficult area in our industry because there are always so many variables. Everyone has a different idea of what is value for money, so we do stringent market testing on quality, backup supply, reliability and price, and then offer what we believe is the best-value product of its type. However, we listen to our customers and if they want a particular item, from a particular supplier, that’s what we supply. It’s very straightforward.

Ethics is without doubt the most important part of running a business. It must filter through every part of the business and will affect everything the company does. With me personally, it not only affects the business but must extend outside work as well. All our managers surpass the levels I expect in ethics both at and outside work.

AMT: How do you see the future for engineering and manufacturing in Australia?

AMT: The million dollar question. I believe two key areas will be collaboration and innovation. And innovation isn’t just inventing a new product. It’s changing and developing an existing product to bring something better to the market. Companies joining together to collaborate will go hand in hand with innovation.

The Support Australian Manufacturing (SAM) Campaign is a project we started to show people outside the industry that Australian manufacturing isn’t dead. I kept hearing people comment that we don’t make anything in Australia any more, and if you don’t work in manufacturing or aren’t directly involved, it would be easy to believe that. Our campaign is to show people not only do we still manufacture but we lead the world in many areas.

Over the last few years we have seen the industry diversify and expand into areas not traditionally focused on. The future for Australian manufacturing is definitely new industry and innovation. We strongly support this at all levels, and with over 40 years in business we have a lot to offer.