Celebrating Australian Made – from passion to business with Digadoo

By Nicholas Way

Bert Manning of Mittagong in New South Wales has always loved fixing and making things, especially if they are well designed, well made and use the best of materials.

So much so that he started his first business back in the 1990s, manufacturing stainless steel exhaust systems before moving on to augers used in food packaging – again in stainless steel – and most recently, gardening tools manufactured from high tensile grades.

He got into his latest business, Digadoo garden tools – accidentally. Fed up with the low quality imports that sell for a few dollars at Australian retailers, a friend asked him to make a child’s spade that stayed sharp and did the job, and that didn’t break easily.

Rather than making just one by hand, Manning manufactured a die and pumped out ten of the small spades, taking nine along to a local school fete where they sold out immediately, even though priced at $40.

Manning said: “Having an engineering background, I realised a need in the Australian market for high quality, durable garden tools.

“So 20 years ago we started making this little beauty – now we have developed it into a range of high quality stainless steel garden tools.”

Available online, at times in retail shops and exported to Japan, Digadoo tools are self-evidently of the highest quality, and you can see why they are an in-demand gift.

Manning defies anyone to snap the blade of one of his creations.

“When I design a tool I take into account the end use, the materials needed, not only the sheer joy of using something that is designed well, but the appearance as well – there is nothing like using something that works, but looks beautiful as well.”

Bert’s son Con has taken over the auger manufacturing business, leaving him to concentrate on Digadoo.

“I don’t do this to make millions,” he said.

“What the business needs is a second generation push from someone else who has got a passion, with good at manufacturing skills obviously but good marketing skills as well.”

Unfortunately Con does not want a second quality, hand-crafted stainless steel garden tool business.

Said Manning: “You get to the point where it needs a fresh horse to pull the cart.”

Pictures: Digadoo

This story is part of Celebrating Australian Made, an annual series sponsored by Australian Made and profiling its licensees. For more information on becoming a licensee, visit this link.


Share this Story

Stay Informed

Go to Top