Making their own future

SEMMA executive officer Adrian Boden and assistant Cathy McIntyre. 126035 Picture: ROB CAREW


MANUFACTURING in Greater Dandenong is doing more than just surviving – it’s growing.
South East Melbourne Manufacturers’ Alliance (SEMMA) is the peak industry group for more than 200 companies in the region, where almost half of Victoria’s manufactured products are created.
It has set up a new base in Dandenong South.
“It is an opportune moment for us to move into the manufacturers’ heartland,” executive officer Adrian Boden said.
“The opening of the new Dandenong council offices has meant that we were all by ourselves in Thomas Street.
“One of our manufacturers – and a local success story – Hilton was able to provide us with excellent facilities that mean we can run a number of activities from here.”
Mr Boden said a number of companies in diverse sectors were reporting excellent results for the past three months.
“This may be a compensation for the slightly slower first three months of the year where there was a lot of ‘waiting’ to see what the budget would bring,” he said.
“There seems to be a clear revival in confidence, even if the manufacturers are still suffering from poor access to funding to enhance their growth possibilities.”
He said Greater Dandenong was a “very manufacturing-friendly environment” thanks to City of Greater Dandenong’s support, easy freeway access and the abundance of other companies to connect and work with.
SEMMA is working on a clear brand for the region’s manufacturers, to encourage investment and increase sales.
“Thousands of companies that can supply you anything from a doughnut to a widget to a very complex piece of machinery,” he said.
“We have to celebrate the diversity of our manufacturing.”
He said the area’s multiculturalism was also an advantage for manufacturing.
“We can not only give you product, but we can find people who can communicate with you,” he said.
“In almost every company there are at least 20 or 30 different cultures.”
SEMMA has added more than 40 new members over the past year and is hoping to grow even more in the coming 12 months.
Mr Boden said Australia’s manufacturing industry could be an easy target for negativity, with job losses often in the spotlight.
“But for every company that disappears you’ve probably got a new company being set up,” he said.
“Change is inevitable.”
He said when computers entered the machining sector there were concerns it would cost jobs.
“But then you forget that you need somebody to make the machine,” he said.
“It’s just a transition of a job.
“Manufacturing will always be here.”