80-year old Hindmarsh spring manufacturer to close; 54 jobs to go; management points finger at free trade deals
Another one bites the dust as government closes this 80 year old Australian business accredited to:
Andrew Robb, according to Malcolm Turnbull has been the most successful Trade Minister in our country’s history landing three enormous free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China. In addition, he has secured agreement of the historic Trans Pacific Partnership, eliminating tariffs on 98 per cent of traded goods and creating better access for Australia’s innovative service industries in 11 leading economies, including the US, Japan and Canada.
THE management of an 80-year-old Hindmarsh family business that announced its closure this morning, costing 54 jobs, has lashed out at the recent spate of free trade agreements that it says has made its future unviable.
Family owned business Industrial Engineers and Spring Makers will cease operations on March 24, with all 54 employees — the majority of whom are older than 50 — to be made redundant.
The company makes springs for cars, trucks, trailers and industrial applications, along with other allied products. However, management said the demise of the local automotive industry was not the driving factor of its predicament.
Instead, senior manager Chris Coxon, whose grandfather Jack Marsh founded the company in 1935, laid blame on the increasing number of free trade agreements, which he says has created a uneven playing field.
In recent years, former trade minister (now trade envoy) Andrew Robb has overseen the signing of a number of agreements, with partner countries including China, Japan and Korea.
“To us it boils down to a policy issue, presumably in the name of free trade, which in turn assumes that free and open trade weeds out businesses that are inefficient,” Mr Coxon said.
“While true at a broad macro level, it can be utter nonsense at the micro community level, particularly when copies of our products are not made under the same conditions and regulatory environment.”
Mr Coxon said the writing was on the wall when major client Kenworth Trucks switched to an overseas supplier last year.
“Our issue is with the Chinese copying our products,” he said.
“They produce a lower quality good and charge, say, 20 per cent less for it, which, in this economic climate, sees around 80 per cent of people select that good.
“We make a better quality product but can’t compete on price.”
Managing director Tim Marsh said all of the company’s suppliers will be paid in full, on top of more than $1 million in redundancy payments and other entitlements.
“We want to do the right thing by everyone — nobody will miss out,” he said.
“I have grown up with this place and I consider everyone here to be friends.”
Mr Coxon said he particularly felt for employees aged in their late 50s and early 60s who are not yet ready to retire.
Source: The Adelaide Advertiser