Best quarter ever for this rubber manufacturer | Business SA

As an industry leader, Derby Rubber was asked by Business SA and William Buck to provide commentary on the Quarterly Business Confidence Survey results.  A special thank you to Tanya Wilkins for writing this article.

“Looking at the Survey of Business Expectation September Quarter results, as a manufacturer and a small business, we fall comfortably into these findings,” said Michael Clayton, Chief Executive Officer of Derby Rubber, an Australian-owned company that design and manufacture innovative products for demanding applications and extreme condition environments. “We’re actually in a stronger position than many of the respondents. It certainly hasn’t been easy, there’s been a number of challenges that we’ve had to navigate and we’ve come out in a good if not better position.”

Despite general business conditions trending down from June 2020, Derby Rubber is seeing their pipeline for work increasing and lengthening out again which provides more certainty for material and labour forecasting. “We export over a third of our product, and with our markets in the USA and Europe almost back to normal, and many delayed infrastructure projects scheduled again, this naturally flows to us and we’re seeing demand increase for our rail and traffic products”.

“We’ve celebrated some real successes the last 18-months, particularly through our recent ISO 14001 environmental certification. Sustainability is a real focus for our business, we look to increase the lifespan of our products – if they last longer and they’re not disposed of prematurely we can decrease our energy and material consumption.  To support this we’re looking at ways to recover used products too. The whole circular economy and net-zero is a real focus for the business, and it’s driving the sustainability of our operations and our products, even extending to our people, we’re focused on creating sustainable jobs” said Michael.

Two years ago, Derby Rubber relocated to South Australia and centralised the business in Wingfield, Adelaide. They are committed to recruiting people that had strong manufacturing backgrounds and the history of automotive in South Australia was a bonus, the talent we have now is exceptional.

“South Australia has been remarkable, and the move has paid off because we’ve been somewhat insulated from many of the broader challenges that our New South Wales and Victorian counterparts have had to navigate. We’ve had to work closely and negotiate with multiple local suppliers.  With the overseas distributors, we’ve focused on collaborating on ways to ensure that we meet market demands”, said Michael.

One of the most challenging issues that Derby Rubber has been trying to solve has been the disruption to Australian shipping lines, the container shortages, and the lack of accessibility due to congestion in South Australia and at other major ports. This has all impacted many businesses and delayed exporting finished products.

“So we can meet the challenge of getting the raw materials, we have enough labour and can produce and meet tight deadlines, but then our products sit idle for weeks waiting for a container or a ship”, said Michael. “So, it’s a complex challenge, and one we haven’t had to solve before. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be resolved anytime soon. What we are doing to insure against this is manufacturing and holding enough stock so we can account for delays and can meet demand.”

Michael said that he is excited about 2022, with international borders expected to open, and Derby Rubber is committed to exhibiting at major international trade shows in Europe – like InnoTrans and IAF – and other trade shows in America. “This is incredibly important for us, it’s a competitive world, we need to defend and grow our global footprint and these connections will be critical.”

If you are interested in reading the findings of the Survey of Business Expectations, please find the full report here.

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