12/05/2011 - 00:00

Khourys have Form on the board

12/05/2011 - 00:00


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IT has taken Edward Khoury 15 years to grow his industrial design business to the size of the one he and his wife Sharon left behind in South Africa when they migrated in the 1980s.

IT has taken Edward Khoury 15 years to grow his industrial design business to the size of the one he and his wife Sharon left behind in South Africa when they migrated in the 1980s.

Starting from scratch to develop Form Designs Australia was a huge gamble for Mr and Mrs Khoury, who had spent 14 years building up their successful business in South Africa; but the couple decided to move to Western Australia after Mr Khoury experienced a carjacking while travelling with his young son.

“It was so shocking, it was so bad that we decided it wasn’t worth living there. To build a future, especially for the kids, for ourselves, in an environment that was so shaky, it was just not worth it,” Mr Khoury said.

The couple came to Perth on holiday and liked it so much that, although they were warned it was not an ideal place to establish an industrial design business, decided they had to give it a go.

“When we got here there was very little industrial design being done, and in fact whoever we spoke to ... said ‘look this is a mining town there’s nothing here, you should go to Sydney or Melbourne if you want to do industrial design’,” Mr Khoury told WA Business News.

“There were one or two industrial designers but they were a little bit old fashioned in their thinking and their design. They didn’t embrace the new computer-aided design and systems that were being developed to go with our industry.

“So we came here and thought we’d give it all we could and see how we go.

‘‘So, we really established an industry, I think, in WA.”

Working from home, the couple built up their client-base by advertising in the Yellow Pages and sending flyers to companies with a potential interest in industrial design. Word of mouth helped their reputation to spread.

A couple of years ago the Khourys advertised on commercial radio and received a surprisingly large response.

Mr Khoury said the company’s difference to other industrial designers was that it didn’t specialise in one particular area of design.

“We found that a lot of industrial designers specialise in areas ... so they would specialise in model making or in conceptual design, in the engineering side, and we decided we’d do it all. We’d bring the people in and do the whole lot. So you start off with a concept and we end up with production,” he said.

Mr Khoury goes to China every couple of months to visit the factories of manufacturers with which the company deals; he said it was important to maintain good relationships with these companies to ensure the products they made for Form Designs were of the highest quality.

“It’s very important, the whole process of developing a product and getting it manufactured and produced successfully, that the whole package is there. If you leave one thing out the project will fail,” said Mr Khoury, adding that the high demands on Chinese manufacturers was showing through in the quality of their workmanship.

“The quality seems to have dropped here ... maybe the quality just got better over there but the quality of what we’re getting out of China is really, really good. If you drop the ball and you’re not looking you could have problems; that’s why we have all these documents for quality control.”

Form Designs is currently working on the design of a noise-suppression communications device with Belmont-based company Sensear, a world leader in the development and manufacture of communication headsets for use in high-noise workplaces.

Form has also worked with Canning Vale-based company Globaltech on its Pathfinder drill-hole survey product, which is being sold internationally, and with Barrett Communications in Bibra Lake, which exports high-frequency communications equipment for military and commercial use.



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