J. Smith and Sons managing director Kerren Smith with the chairman of Chinese corporation NHIC Mr Lei and his delegation in Gympie this week.
J. Smith and Sons managing director Kerren Smith with the chairman of Chinese corporation NHIC Mr Lei and his delegation in Gympie this week. Craig Warhurst

China opens door to deal

A LUCRATIVE contract between the design arm of world-leading Gympie manufacturing business J. Smith and Sons and Chinese mega-corporation, North Heavy Industries Group Corporation was still being finalised in Brisbane yesterday.

According to its website, the North Mongolian-based NHIC is "a giant group that deals with special steel making, forging and casting, heat treatment, surface treatment, machining, electrics, hydraulics, instrument fabricating, final assembling and commissioning".

It specialises in steel and extension products, railway vehicle products, coal mining machinery, special-purpose vehicles and engineering machinery.

Its interest in J. Smith and Sons is focused specifically on the Gympie company's expanding technology-based design arm, Smith Global.

J. Smith and Sons' managing director, Kerren Smith said from Brisbane yesterday, his company had stood off the Chinese market up until this point because it could be a difficult terrain to conduct business in.

But the potential in opening a commercial door with a mega-corporation from the burgeoning superpower is almost unlimited.

"The delegation has come to Australia on a fact-finding mission to discuss with us what opportunities there are to understand our technology," Mr Smith said.

"We are moving our company forward from pure manufacturing into a technology company which is driven by its engineering knowledge in parallel with its manufacturing."

Smith Global already has other design projects underway in India.

J. Smith and Sons started in Gympie more than 110 years ago and now manufacture a wide range of specialised trailers for the transport task within Australia and overseas.

It has a brand reputation that spans the globe sufficient to catch the attention of companies like NHIC, and more than 50 years combined experience in computerised technical design.

The company also manufactures a range of heavy-duty off-highway trailers for the coal and hard rock mining industries and has serviced local government transport needs along the east coast of Australia, and the coalfields of North Queensland, the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and Western Queensland.

It has developed raw sugar and sugarcane road transportation systems for the majority of sugar mills in Queensland and successfully exported to Indonesia, Argentina and Hawaii.



1880: John "Jack" Smith born at the Monkland.

1898: Jack wins gold at the Gympie Show for the best horse drawn vehicle manufactured by a Gympie native.

1926: Jack has claims on the first caravan built in Queensland.

1929: Jack and his eldest son Bill move the business from their backyard shed to Monkland St.

1936: The partnership of J. Smith and Sons forms.

1954: Jack retires and sons Bill and Jim buy the business.

1975: New J. Smith and Sons factory opens adjacent to Bruce Hwy south of Gympie and Jim's son Kerren joins the family business.

1976: Kerren develops the side tipper.

1986: Kerren builds the first B-Double in Queensland.

1991: Business turnover reaches $4.2 million.

1994: The company acquires graduate engineer Kevin McDonnell.

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