By Melissa Keogh
Advanced manufacturing company REDARC Electronics has come a long way since its beginnings in the late ‘90s, as an eight-person business operating out of a tin shed in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Fast forward more than two decades and the Lonsdale-based company has expanded its product offerings from just voltage converters to a range of vehicle power solutions manufactured by a local workforce and exported across the world.
REDARC recently completed its 15th consecutive year of an average 20% growth. It’s also recently diversified into the defence and medical device industry, and has grown to have 180 FTEs on the books with plans to recruit more.
Managing director Anthony Kittel says the company has a five-year plan to reach $100 million in sales, employ more than 250 staff, and also complete a factory expansion allowing for a boost in exports.
The $20 million expansion of its Lonsdale factory began in 2017 and will see the company grow its workforce and penetrate new markets including defence and medical devices.
New state-of-the-art machinery and specialist testing equipment are currently being installed, with the company on the look out for workers with various expertise.
“REDARC are planning to hire electronic engineers, computer systems engineers, project managers, sales, business development and marketing staff while also providing traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities,” Anthony says.
“REDARC are heavily involved and committed to the community by nurturing and developing the skills of young people as they enter the workforce, and by providing many work experience opportunities for high school students and undergraduates in various areas of business.”
The factory expansion is expected to be finished by late November.
“We are currently completing the installation of advanced manufacturing equipment,” Anthony says.
“We have also completed the installation of a 100kW PV solar power system which will allow REDARC to offset CO2 carbon emissions by 80 tonnes per year.
“We’ve also added a Tesla Powerwall to store energy from our solar system and a diesel generator allowing uninterrupted operations.”
Today the company sells more than 500 products sold globally into North America, Europe, UAE, South Africa, UK, South Korea and Singapore.
Its road to manufacturing success was laid in 1979 when the company was founded by electronics engineer Robin (Bob) William Mackie, who hand-built vehicle ignition systems and voltage converters.
Bob passed away in 1997 and Anthony and Michele Kittel, along with Michele’s father Denis Brion, purchased the business which they believed had potential but “needed a lot of work”.
“I knew we had a lot of work to do and since that time we have had a motto, ‘customer is king’. It took almost three years to stabilise the business and develop a vision for the future,” Anthony says.
Six of the eight original staff from the ‘90s are still with the company which has since built upon its team-based culture and diversified into the development of products for the 4WD and caravan industry.
These products include inverters, power supplies, battery chargers, brake controllers, trailer braking products, and portable solar panels.
REDARC services a range of other industries including heavy trucking, emergency services, mining, industrial, marine and recreational vehicles and, more recently, the defence and medical device industries.
SA’s burgeoning defence industry is one of the company’s key targets and for the last five years has offered the Australian defence sector a range of electronic solutions for vehicles.
REDARC is an SME (small-to-medium enterprise) partner for Rheinmetall, which won the LAND400 phase 2 contract to deliver more than 200 combat reconnaissance vehicles for the Australian Army.
REDARC is also an SME partner to BAE Systems Australia on the SEA5000 Future Frigates project that will deliver nine new Hunter Class ships built by ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne from 2020.
Aside from its branching out into defence, REDARC has also experienced growth in its usual sectors, namely through the acquisition of NSW company Hummingbird Electronics in 2015.
In 2017/18 REDARC signed eTrailer Corporation and Keystone Automotive Operations as two distribution partners for North America.
Despite the Adelaide-born company reaching global heights, its managing director says SA is the “best place in the world to live and operate a business”.
“We have long-established networks and connections, our families live here,” he says.
“It’s great to see the growth and confidence in the SA economy, employment creation and infrastructure development. We are passionate about Australian manufacturing and employing local people.”
I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:
Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing
Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.
As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.
Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.