A slick operation
For some, success occurs organically. For others, strategically. Alemlube creative marketing manager Geoff Barlow, however, believes the secret to surviving 50 years in the competitive construction supply sector comes down to your ability to prove yourself both flexible and adaptable. “While our main focus has been and always will be our customers, our relentless pursuit of innovation and progress results in continued and ongoing improvements in our products, our product range and our internal systems and procedures,” Barlow says. It is a philosophy adhered to by the company since 1970 when Ian Williamson established Alemlube Lubrequip P/L (as it was then known) near the family home in Brookvale, in Sydney’s northern beaches. A salesman all his life, Williamson founded the business after spotting a gap in the market to supply reliable, cost effective lubrication equipment solutions, well supported by a comprehensive after sales service package. Williamson threw open the doors to the showroom with just a few core products after being appointed the exclusive Australian Distributor for Alemite USA’s range of pneumatic pumps, hose reels and grease nipples.
A new generation
Upon his death in 2007, Williamson’s sons Mark and Ross took the helm as co-directors with Mark leading the sales and marketing side of the enterprise and Ross taking charge of operations and IT. In 2010 the pair changed the company name to Alemlube and in 2014 made their first acquisition, a competitor brand by the name of Tecalemit, which specialises in the design and manufacture of lubrication equipment, fluid transfer, fluid measurement and workshop equipment for the agriculture, automotive, industrial, mining and transport industries. But rather than taking the traditional route and absorbing the business into its existing offering, the brothers reasoned it would make more sense to retain the status quo by allowing the two businesses to continue to operate independently in their respective markets. Today, the cornerstone of the business remains the supply and service of greasing equipment, drum pumps, flow meters, spill containment equipment, air operated diaphragm pumps and hose reels.
Helping more customers
Barlow says as with the advance in technology, these product groups have advanced in their manufacturing processes while also adding new features, versatility and reliability, all of which has proven of great benefit to the end user. This has had a direct impact on the success of Alemlube as a whole with the company now operating a brand network that includes 150 staff across offices and warehouses across Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Owning all but three of these properties, the company also services the Papua New Guinea and New Zealand markets, its success prompting it to open an office in Auckland in 2011 from which it is able to service clients across both the North and South islands. There, as in Australia, the business is split into two separate divisions with the first involving the design, supply, installation and commissioning of lube systems to equipment manufacturers in the contractor, construction, infrastructure, transport, agriculture, mining and oil and gas sectors. The second is concerned with the design, supply, installation and commissioning of air and oil lines and workshop equipment to automotive, transport, hire company, construction, contractor and mine site workshops. This arm of the business also supplies vehicle hoists, tyre changers, wheel balancers, wheel aligners, on car servicing equipment and air conditioning recharging machines to car, light commercial, bus and truck workshops.
Yet while there is consistency in its products, the same cannot be said of the group which purchase them. Barlow says unlike customers in other business, the typical Alemlube customer is painted “with a very broad brush”. “Ranging from small family owned business to large buying groups consisting of many members some with multiple outlets. The Alemlube customer service team answering enquiries and taking orders on the phone is the all important first point of contact and each member is fully equipped with product knowledge and equipment solutions advice,” he says. Barlow says the key difference between Alemlube and some of its competitors comes down to the strength of their respective sales teams. With local customer service and sales support on the ground in every state, no other company in the lubrication sector appear to have adequate resources to match it, he says. “Our sales force is extensive and far reaching. All mainstream active customers are visited on a regular rotational basis and kept up to date with new and existing product information and product development. The company also prides itself on prompt after sales service where and when required.”
Celebrating its golden jubilee year in 2020, the next 12 months will see the Northern Beaches-based brand continue its frenetic pace, with a new website to bed in and the opening of its new Victorian branch set to eclipse the size of its largest warehouse in Eastern Creek by a staggering 33 percent. While Barlow says the company is not actively looking for new acquisitions, it won’t rule out adding additional resources, noting the company “is always looking to improve its offer” and will expand its workforce if required.