Export galvanises business

GALVIN Engineering will further expand its export markets this year as the company soars towards a projected revenue of $9 million.

The company’s first United Arab Emirates contract was shipped in April, another contract will be filled in June and, according to Galvin Engineering marketing director Chris Galvin, the contracts are the first instalment of more work the company expects to generate in the area.

 “The April job was worth $90,000 and the June job is $72,000 and this is the first time we’ve exported to Dubai,” he said. 

“In 1997 we did a big order to Hong Kong for the airport. It’s the biggest airport in the world, Hong Kong International Airport, which was a decent order for the company of our size.

“We have spent a lot of time in Hong Kong and we haven’t spent that much time in Dubai but it is a market we want to attract and I will be heading up there later this year. There is a lot of potential for us.”

The company, which has been operated by the Galvin family since 1967, is also keen to grow its operations on the eastern seaboard.

There are Galvin Engineering offices in every Australian State and Mr Galvin and his brother Paul, who both joined their father to operate Galvin Engineering in 1992, instigated the eastern seaboard expansion.

“When we started we were very much a WA-based and WA supply company. Only 5 per cent of our business was coming [from] outside of WA,” Mr Galvin said.

“One of the first things Paul and I did was to spend a lot of time in the east and appoint agents. In 1997 we opened a branch in NSW.

“In 2000 we opened in Victoria. We decided to set up there rather than use agents because no-one works as well as your own people.”

In 1993 the company turned over $5 million and last year it turned over $8.6 million.

A lot of this growth has come from eastern States-based work, Mr Galvin said.

“WA is only 10 per cent of the Australian plumbing market and we’re pretty dominant in that 10 per cent, we were big fish in small waters,” he said.

“Now nearly 30 per cent of our business is from the east and we are aiming to get that to 40 per cent in two years time. We also want to win more export work.”

While plumbing is Galvin Engineering’s core market, accounting for 82 per cent of its business, Mr Galvin said the company was developing and growing its niche sector of original equipment manufacturing.

“We do OEM work largely for the mining industry, the pump industry and other industries such as the hot water industry,” he said.

“It is a specialised division that has had huge growth. It turned over half a million in 1999 and in 2003 it’s $1.6 million.

“We’re putting a lot more time into that. The problem with the plumbing industry is that everything comes from China or India these days and there is no way that an Australian manufacturer can compete on price.

“What we are trying to do is develop markets where it’s more difficult for importers to attack us.

“We’ve moved away from when my father was here and we did the standard tap fittings. We are now more specialised. We do laboratory and surgical tapware, food service tapware and anti-suicide taps and grates for the prisons.”

Galvin Engineering is not new to fending off market pressure.

It fought a successful five-year long battle with US electrical giant General Electric over its logo “GE”.

“We had lawyers flying to Sydney. The lawyer costs would have been upwards of $50,000.  At times we looked at it commercially and thought maybe we should pull out of it but then it became a bit of fun,” Mr Galvin said.

“We put the details in newsletters and updated staff and it became a bit like the movie The Castle for us.

“Even though it was commercially stupid we thought stuff it because we have used these initials since the sixties.”

Galvin Engineering is an entrant in the third-generation category of the 2003 Family Business Awards.

Entries for the Family Business Awards close on Friday, June 13 2003.  More information can be obtained at

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