Clothing manufacturer finds way to keep business afloat

Seamstress Leigh Hanley at work at Gympie clothing manufacturer Drummond and Kindred.
Seamstress Leigh Hanley at work at Gympie clothing manufacturer Drummond and Kindred. Tanya Easterby

AS MANUFACTURING companies both nation-wide and in our own backyard draw the curtain on their part of what was once a lucrative Aussie industry, Gympie clothing manufacturer David Agnew is working hard to keep business coming through the doors.

The Drummond and Kindred Clothing manager said he's turned to catering for niche clothing requests to keep his business afloat.

The Gympie company specialises in manufacturing heavy-duty workware and said a lot of their challenges came from off-shore competition that's so cheap it's hard to beat.

With manufactures in countries like Korea, China, India and Indonesia able to offer Australian buyers much cheaper pricing, Mr Agnew said it put intense pressure on Australian companies to either stay in the game or watch their clients take their orders to another country.

He said he'd seen it happen with Stubbies and King Gee in the late 1980s and also with some government departments including the police.

Now Mr Agnew's hoping the same thing won't happen with those organisations who have so far stuck by Australian-made.

"That's why we've had to diversify," he said.

"We'll have a go at anything."

Now, along with bulk orders from some emergency services, their work comprises of offering "made to measure" garments and work ware that differs from mainstream designs - anything to meet the "different" needs of individual buyers.

He said Nestle, for example, purchased pocketless, stud button shirts from Drummond and Kindred, as one of the only places offering to make them.

He said with the likes of J Smith and Sons having faced the end, he's always thinking of his company's future.

"Everyone asks the question; well who knows? We could be here in 12 months time, we could be here in 10 years time."

He said despite the pressures, there were still some "positive vibes" around.

He said, among other developments, it looked like Victoria's Country Fire Service had signed on for another two years and the company was currently working to secure a contract to produce Northern Territory fire fighter gear.

"It's not big numbers but every little bit counts.

"We'll keep the doors open as long as we've got orders."

Gympie Times

Topics:  business clothing manufacturer

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