By Peter Roberts
I have often heard people, even manufacturers, lament the destruction of appliance and whitegoods manufacturing in Australia.
But there are survivors including Zip Water boilers in Sydney, Seeley and Braemar air coolers and gas heaters in Adelaide and Albury, Rheem in Sydney, and Electrolux’s oven factory, also in Adelaide.
The Swedish company’s long-term future has to be questioned – it has shown with the closure of refrigerator manufacture in Orange, NSW that it was prepared to abandon its once-dominant position in Australian appliance sales for the dubious benefits of manufacturing in Asia.
Yet another company is going from strength to strength – yet under the radar – in the professional cooking market.
Brisbane’s LMI and its sister company Cookon have forged an enviable position in commercial cooking appliances, exploiting Australians’ love of the good life and foodie culture.
Sheet metal fabricator LMI bought Cookon in 2009, and changed its name from Langford Metal Industries in 2020 as the 70-year-old family owned business continued to expand its product offerings.
The group now employ 55 people at their 10,000sqm Eagle Farm factory making everything from grills to ovens, pizza ovens, deep fryers, cooktops, Kaybee oil filter machines, griddles/toasters, and hot water urns, as well as custom-made products.
Products are gas, electric, wood and charcoal-fired.
Cookon recently gained AGA certification for the Cookon teppanyaki grill range, for both commercial and domestic use in Australia and New Zealand, following increasing demand in commercial and home markets.
LMI CEO Glen O’Shanesy is one of those who perhaps not surprisingly has installed fully commercial appliances in his home.
“I have my own Cookon legend at home – one of our high performance CRG gas grills.
“No one else in the family is allowed to cook on it…it has now been cooking for 20 years and still going strong.”
O’Shanesy said 2020 had been a challenging year for the hospitality sector and the company, but he had seen an increase in support across the industry for quality Australian made manufacturing and service.
There is something to be said for producing well designed and made, indestructible and practical appliances – they are certainly a change from low-cost imports that seem to rust and fall apart the moment they are installed.
Perhaps there is hope in the appliance sector yet.
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