Based in Wodonga, Victoria, JC Butko Engineering Pty Ltd recently decided to upgrade its workshop’s capacity with the acquisition of two new Yawei pressbrakes supplied by Applied Machinery.

JC Butko Engineering was established in 1976 by John and Carolyn Butko. Employing 128 tradespersons and 30 contractors, the company’s expansion – particularly over the last 10 years – has seen its factory grow to the present size of 7,000sqm (with an additional 450sqm of administration area). With an average annual turnover today of $35m, it is now the region’s largest general engineering company.

Born to Ukrainian immigrant parents, John Butko was apprenticed as a fitter and turner in Melbourne before returning to Wodonga and joining Milos Metrol & Sons. In 1972, John was named as Albury & Wodonga’s top apprentice. Soon afterwards, he rented a small shed in Kendall Street, Wodonga, and invested heavily in machinery – including a lathe, guillotine and a set of rollers – and the rest is history.

The team at JC Butko consists of boilermakers, sheet metal workers, pipe welders, fitter/machinists and apprentices. The management team comprises project managers, mechanical engineers, certifying engineers, project supervisors, estimators, drafting personnel, quality assurance, health, safety & wellness, and administration. The company’s recent growth has come about as a result of working on larger projects throughout Australia (mostly on the East Coast) and overseas (including in the USA, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea).

The company is certified to ISO 9001-2008 Certificate No QEC10764 by SAI Global, and it has successfully maintained this accreditation since 1998. Furthermore, JC Butko is also certified to AS/NZS ISO 3834 Certificate 044 in accordance with the IIW MCS scheme, and are accredited members of ASSDA (Australian Stainless Steel Development Association) and RMS prequalified.

John’s son Paul Butko has worked with the company for the past seven years and is currently the company’s Commercial Manager. He previously worked for five years in construction with Lend-Lease, which has provided him with an excellent grounding for his current role in the business. A true family business, Paul’s brother Michael Butko has also been with JC Butko for the past 14 years is now the company’s Director and Engineering Manager.

“My parents and brother, along with the support and dedication of current and previous employees, have done an amazing job to get the company where it is today,” says Paul. “I can’t reinforce that enough.”

The company undertakes a diverse array of projects including large structural steel, tanks, pipe spooling, conveyor systems, food/materials handling systems and pressure vessel work in either mild steel or stainless steel.

“Our work is a 50/50 split between mild and stainless steel, as well as a 50/50 split between fabrication and site installation,” Paul explains.

Tanks and pipes are the company’s forté, and it also works with clients in the water industry, food production and dairy – among other areas. MARS Petcare and MARS Chocolate, Lend Lease, GrainCorp, John Holland, CPB, Thales, Visy, Nestle, Orora Paper, Terminals, Norske Skogand and Thales are JC Butko’s biggest clients.

Major projects undertaken include the GrainCorp Oil seeds refinery at Numurkah (ongoing), the MARS Petcare Single Serve & Hydro Upgrade (completed in 2019), and the Lend Lease MRP Project (completed in 2017). JC Butko Engineering was awarded with the Thales Australia Supplier HSE Award, in recognition for the outstanding achievements of the JC Butko Thales team, and their collaborative and proactive approach towards improving HSE culture at Thales’ Mulwala facility. In addition, founder John Butko was named as an Albury Northside and Wodonga Chambers of Commerce hall of fame recipient in 2016.

At the end of the year the company will have a fully dedicated mild steel and stainless steel factory. These will operate separately to each other but will be situated in the same location. JC Butko prides itself on providing its customers with a one-stop-shop service from design through 3D modelling to installation and ongoing maintenance.

“This is our bread and butter,” Paul remarks. “We work with clients from the beginning to end of a project, providing a sense of reassurance.

Investing in enhancing capacity

The team at JC Butko wanted to increase the company’s work capacity and scope. They had heard about Yawei pressbrakes through a service contractor, who was performing maintenance on their existing equipment. Yawei is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of CNC pressbrakes, fibre lasers, turret punch presses and guillotines. Since its initial introduction to the Australian market more than 10 years ago, Yawei’s pressbrake technology has had a big impact on the manufacturing industry here. In fact, more than 300 machines are now installed across the country with Australian fabricators.

Although the JC Butko team had been looking at a few other manufacturers, the Yawei Pressbrakes impressed them immediately. As a result, Paul purchased two machines: a larger PBH 630-6200 CNC5 CNC pressbrake, and a smaller PBH 300-4100 CNC7 CNC pressbrake. The 630-ton pressbrake is responsible for larger projects, whereas the 300-ton machine is used to perform intricate high-precision work.

The machines have made a good impression on the operators.

“After a few months in use, we have found them to be solid, reliable and good to use,” Paul comments. “They are also very user-friendly, and are value for money.”

Applied Machinery played a major role in JC Butko’s decision. Applied Machinery is one of Australia’s most experienced technology suppliers in the sheetmetal, engineering, recycling and plastics sectors. In addition to Yawei, Applied Machinery also represents Genox, Hurco, Kitamura, Chen Hsong, Alfarobot, Hermle, Akyapak, Hyundai-WIA, Weber, Fimic and Polystar.

“We wouldn’t have purchased the Yawei machines without Applied Machinery’s advice and assistance,” Paul explains.

In addition to the installation of the machines, Applied has provided training to staff operating the machines and provides service and assistance where necessary.

“The service we receive from them is crucial and we are grateful for it,” Paul adds. “The machines have allowed us to get more work so we can thank Applied for that.”

Paul is optimistic about the future of JC Butko and what it holds.

“We just want to keep consolidating what we do,” he sums up. “We want to continue to offer a complete service that makes our clients and customers happy.”