Derby Rubber’s CEO, Michael Clayton, was recently interviewed by Jennifer Hullick for Future Adelaide. This publication showcases the inspiring stories and opportunities that South Australia has to offer. Michael shared Derby Rubber’s story about the factory’s relocation to Wingfield, South Australia.
The products made by Derby Rubber have to stand the test of some of the most extreme conditions on Earth. Their ability to do so has made the family-owned company a world leader in designing and manufacturing ballast regulator broom elements.
“The product is a rubber broom element which they use essentially for sweeping rail track,” chief executive officer Michael Clayton says. “It’s the last process when they lay down fresh track or in maintaining tracks.”
Derby Rubber has been making and evolving the product for more than 20 years.
“It’s a product that’s striking rocks all day, with high temperatures in Australia and really cold temperatures in the northern parts of Sweden and Russia, so it needs to be really good quality,” Clayton says. “We came up with some new designs for the product and our own rubber compound for it.”
That innovation and growth have continued, with the company choosing to relocate to Wingfield, in Adelaide’s north, 16 months ago to pursue its targets. “Prior to that we were 55 years in Sydney. We made a deliberate choice to move for the growth of the business,” Clayton says. “Because a significant proportion of our business is in export and also related to mining in WA, we chose Adelaide to centralise.”
The move brought lower overheads and a better lifestyle for staff. The company also looked to take on workers moving out of the local automotive industry. “That’s really paid off because we have a really strong core team on our manufacturing shop floor,” Clayton says.
Derby Rubber now employs 15 people, with warehousing in Sydney and the Netherlands, and is working to boost its international footprint with a range of high-quality, high-performance rubber components. “We service agriculture and mining and transport,” Clayton says. “We make the door and window seals for trains and trams – we are into applications that are very demanding. We are into niche applications, where performance really matters.”
Clayton is currently eyeing defence as a natural market for components that can endure the most demanding applications. The company is also releasing a new product at the next transport trade fair InnoTrans in Berlin, but the wraps are still on. In any case, Derby Rubber knows it’s in the right place to create a positive future.
To find this article and other South Australian success stories, head to Future Adelaide.