Hunter manufacturer awards celebrate the unexpected

The recently announced Hunter Manufacturing Awards (HMA) winners highlight the intuition, inventiveness, determination, and scope of the sector in the region.

HMA’s mission is to promote best practices, and in recognising outstanding achievers, it encourages and sustains the aspirations of those who want to join them.

HMA chairman Steven Smith said “expect the unexpected” became the organisation’s tagline for 2022.

Smith said: “Manufacturers are building back fast despite significant headwinds.

“The extraordinary levels of business uncertainty in the past couple of years have honed our instincts to ‘expect the unexpected’, and manufacturers have consequently developed greater resilience to sustain their momentum and competitiveness.”

Caves Beach business Sirron Holdings “cleaned up” in four HMA categories, an achievement the event judges described as “singular”.

Sirron Holdings, manufacturer of commercial dishwashing machines for hotels and clubs, won Manufacturer of the Year (fewer than 50 staff), as well as awards for Collaboration Partnership, Innovation, and Marketing.

Managing director Greg Gates said he was extremely proud of the people he works with.

“I’m also extremely grateful for the relationship with HMA.

“It has enabled us to operate and get things done when times were tough. I echo the sentiments, ‘tough times make good people’.”

Sirron turned its commercial dishwasher factory into a disinfectant and sanitiser manufacturer when the pandemic hit in 2020. It now releases 230 products.

HMA named Bruce Hegan, owner of Central Coast-based 4id Solutions, its Manufacturing Leader.

The panel described his efforts to improve products as “relentless”.

Mayfield North company MITS Alloy picked up Manufacturer of the Year (50 employees or more). It impressed the judges with its efforts in hitting target markets and building a global presence.

The Hedweld Group took out the Export and Global Supply Chains award for its tri-lift range of component handling equipment. Hedweld exports to 35 countries and has established agents/distributors in nine countries.

Elecbrakes won the Manufacturing Capability award after supplier unreliability prompted it to manufacture its own components. Beresfield business SafeGauge won the Product Design award for its SafeTest Dial Indicator that enables safer and more efficient inspections of heavy machinery.

Jess Hodges from Resourceful Living was on hand to collect the Outstanding Start-Up gong. Resourceful Living reuses plastic waste to make furniture. The company has already recycled 10 tonnes of waste plastic and is a shining example of the circular economy in The Hunter.

Other winners included Morgan Engineering for Building Workforce Capability for the Future, and Loop Organics for Sustainable Operations.

West Gosford-based Chamberlain Group’s Alex Nivison was named Apprentice of the Year. Alex played an integral part in a team that doubled the output of a robot assigned to a CNC machine.

Picture: Greg Gates, centre, Sirron Holdings managing director, accepts the HMA Manufacturer of the Year award (less than 50 employees) from HMA chairman Steven Smith, and Alison McGaffin, director, Hunter and Central Coast Regional Development, Department of Regional NSW.

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