It began with two guys tinkering away in a blueberry packing shed.
Now Integrated Hydraulics Limited works out of a cavernous factory in Hornby, machines grinding away to spit out 30,000 manifolds and parts a year.
The business is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of custom hydraulic control manifolds.
The company describes manifolds as the “heart and brains” of machines ranging from giant electricity generators to common diggers.
Integrated Hydraulics also makes custom machinery parts and mountain bike components.
The company’s factory in Hornby is its third. Around 20 per cent growth year on year for a decade kept pushing them to bigger and brighter horizons, as its two original staff members grew to 35.
Being in such a specific industry, general manager Richard Craig knew the company would be easily rattled by the market. It certainly got a good rattling recently when problems emerged with the Australian mining industry, one of its prime markets.
What could have been a major crisis wasn’t; the company knew this day would come and had begun adding strings to the company’s bow before it became an issue.
“Because our market grew so fast, we already knew we were down a path we needed to diversify from for when this day occurred,” Craig says.
“We managed to time it relatively well, and get our mountain bike components and other little industries rolling right before it became a problem for us. So we’ve basically been seamless straight through.”
Their mountain bike components – which sell direct to market – are a new innovation, and are tracking at 300 per cent growth, he says.
Craig has a long history with the company. He joined as a design cadet 20 years ago and moved up the ranks.
After working machines during the night-shift, and bouncing around the design and sales departments, he made the ascent to upper management. He likes it but admits it took some getting used to.
Technology is key to the company’s success, Craig says.
It’s ahead of the curve in its industry and always has been. A strength is the capacity to use costly machines to make small amounts of product, something that regularly confounds those in other industries, Craig says.
“When our founder put in the first machine in 1989, the service engineer from Japan came out and said ‘how many thousand parts are you going to make?’ He said, ‘I’m not doing that. I’m only going to make one.’ The Japanese guy laughed and said ‘you’ll go broke’.
“We’re here 25 years later, so clearly we can do it.”
Written by Charlie Mitchell, The Press.