With the demise of local car manufacturing, many companies that previously supplied automotive components have had to diversify into other areas to grow their businesses.

Ace Wire Works is one such company; it has successfully made the transition from supplying automotive products such as the wire seat frames for Toyota Camrys, to a diverse product range that now includes retail display stands, welded mesh panels, horticulture products, food & beverage equipment, designer furniture and wire and mesh products for medical applications.

Founded by Albert Blashki in 1954, Ace remains very much a family business, with Albert’s son Philip now the Owner and Managing Director. Moreover, with grandson Simon also involved, a third generation is part of the company, which now employs approximately 40 staff.

Ace’s General Manager Sam Harris joined the company around two years ago with the specific edict of assisting the company transition away from automotive to non-automotive products. To say that it has been a success is something of an understatement, with growth of these products up by more than 50% in the current financial year. Harris attributes the company’s ongoing success to several key factors – in particular, the fact that Ace specialises in high-quality customised products in sometimes relatively low production volumes.

“With our own internal designers to assist with CAD drawings and designing prototypes, we can offer customers a comprehensive and personalised service to meet their needs and make sure that we meet or exceed their expectations,” says Harris. “This is especially relevant in the competitive retail segment. The personal one-on-one service that we provide is something our customers really appreciate, as it gives them a higher level of confidence to in turn offer the best service to their clients. Really it’s about having empathy for our customers and building strong relationships.”

The increase in demand for the company’s display products included projects for a number of major retailers, and was what drove Harris to look at a fibre laser.

“We were outsourcing more and more laser work which was affecting our lead times and our control of the total manufacturing process and the time was right to get our own laser,”he explains.

The new Yawei HLE & HLF fibre lasers have earned a reputation for high performance coupled with a value-for-money price point. Harris first saw the Yawei at the Applied Machinery stand at the Austech exhibition, and compared the features with various other laser cutters in the market.

Yawei is well known as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC press brakes, turret punch presses and guillotines and its entrance into the laser cutting market comes off the back of years of R&D and refinement of the machines in its domestic market in China.

For Harris, the key factors that put the Yawei in front were the outstanding features and performance, ease of use, and – as with all Yawei equipment – value for money. Harris was also impressed with the advice and support that Applied Machinery had given him throughout the purchase process – something only a local distributor can provide.

“The fact that Applied Machinery was literally just around the corner was an important factor for us. The installation went very smoothly and the back up and support has been great,” says Harris.

After only a few months Harris is pleased with what the Yawei offers Ace.

“The Yawei has reduced our lead times, increased flexibility in production planning and broadened the range of products we can offer our customers, he explains. “Also, the speed and accuracy of the fibre laser means we are saving huge amounts of production time.”

As an added bonus, the purchase of the fibre laser was supported by the Victorian State Government through its LIFT (Local Industry Fund for Transition) program. This program specifically caters to former automotive supply companies, to support them in their transition to developing non-automotive business and provide employment for qualified employees exiting the automotive sector.