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T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

Innovation and Enterprise

A history of Backwell IXL 1858­2008

G A McLean

Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd.

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T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

EbEnEzEr backwEll

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Published by Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd., 1 Wood Street, East Geelong, Victoria 3219. Distributed by Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. First published 2008. © Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd., 2008. Edited by Incognita Enterprises. Cover and book design and layout by Roy Walshe Graphic Design. Printed by Adams Print, 58 Leather Street, Breakwater, Victoria 3219. National Library of Australia. Cataloguing-in-Publication data. McLean, Graham Alwin, 1937- . Innovation and Enterprise: A history of Backwell IXL 1858-2008. Includes index. ISBN 978-0-646-48921-6. 1. Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd.-History 2. Household appliances industry ­ Australia 3. Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. 338.7683830994

Cover images: Front cover image of Ebenezer Backwell, courtesy of A. R. A. Backwell; and image of Rodney Smith pouring molten metal at the Backwell foundry, courtesy of Zoe Alderson. Back cover image of Backwell products, courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Contents

Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction

vii viii 1

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D Appendix E Notes Index

The early years The emergence of the IXL Stove Changing of the guard Managing the boom Surviving depression and war The end of an era Diversify or perish Electric heating becomes the main stay Diversifying products and processes A change in corporate direction Meeting challenges in the new millennium Owners/major shareholders in the company (1858-2008) Directors of the company (1923-2008) Managing Directors/ Company General Managers (1923-2008) Managers (1902-2008) Employment

5 11 16 20 26 31 43 54 67 74 82

91 92 93 94 96

97 105

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Metric Equivalents

£1 (one pound) 1s. (one shilling) 1d. (one penny) 1 inch 1 foot 1 yard 1 mile 1 acre 1 gallon 1 pound 1 ton = $2.00 =10 cents = 0.83 cents = 2.54 centimetres = 30 centimetres = 91 centimetres = 1.61 kilometres = 0.40 hectares = 4.546 litres = 454 grams = 1.02 tonnes

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Foreword

Over the last 150 years the company that we know today as Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. has grown from a blacksmith's shop in Geelong West to a diversified Australian manufacturer of domestic appliances, pressed metal products and metal castings. The company's history is one of a readiness to reinvent itself through innovative product development, in order to meet the challenges of a changing world. Once the company manufactured and sold only solid fuel cooking stoves. Today, through Sampford IXL, it is a manufacturer and importer of a diversified range of domestic appliances. While appliances have always been central to the company's offering, it has developed an important place in the Australian automotive components industry and a niche position in the metal castings business. Backwell IXL is a company of enterprise and pragmatism, based on an attitude of persistence and a belief that achievement is possible no matter what the circumstances. It is noteworthy that some of the most significant changes in the company's direction have been taken at times when the nation was experiencing significant economic downturn. Much of the company's success is due to the fact that it is still a family business five generations on. Unlike the past when a change in the direction of the company was generally a response to local market pressures that played out over years, if not decades, today the pressures are global and are occurring within a rapidly decreasing time frame. The past can act as a guide, and we ignore its lessons at our peril, but we must also recognise the importance of managing change. The main challenge that faces us today is to make the right strategic decisions for a positive future. I thank the 150th Anniversary Committee of David Sykes and Sandra Priddle for their efforts in bringing this history to fruition. A special thank you to Al McLean, whose insight, experience and many hours of research and writing have made this history of our company a reality.

Robert Backwell, Chairman

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Acknowledgments

At the outset I wish to express my appreciation to the shareholders and directors of Backwell IXL for giving me the opportunity to write this history of their company. I also extend my thanks to David Sykes and Sandra Priddle, who comprised the 150th Anniversary Committee, for their cooperation, encouragement and assistance in the preparation of this history. My special thanks goes to Alan Backwell, who has acted as archivist for the company for many years. My interview with Alan allowed me the opportunity to not only understand the company, but to gain a rare insight into many of the people who made the company what it is today. In addition to the time Alan afforded me he provided company and family records, photographs and other relevant documentation. Alan had stored away priceless items such as Ebenezer's cashbook and original drawings used for Ebenezer's patent application in 1893. Alan also provided me with Albert Leslie Backwell's review of the company's progress over the first one hundred years contained in An Outline of the History of E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd. 1858-1958, and the manuscript of Albert Leslie's autobiography and memoirs. These were absolute treasure troves of information. As a matter of interest Alan also allowed me access to corporate records that were retrieved from the company safe after it was stolen and dumped in the Barwon River in the 1950s. Among other things the safe contained the minute book covering the directors' meetings from 1923 to 1945. Other rich sources of historical data were Alan's assessments of the company's progress contained in his reviews of 1991 and 2001, as well as the notebook kept originally by Albert Leslie and later by Alan. These contained a chronology of events and people that shaped the company over the last six decades. Brian Backwell was equally generous in the time and support he gave me during the preparation of this history. In my interview with Brian I learned the background to the major decisions made by the directors at critical times during

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the life of the business. Equally fascinating was his analysis of the reasons for the business' longevity and success over 150 years. His description of the stove works at Gheringhap Street is a gem, as is his detailed portrayal of foundry processes used in the 1950s. Brian's analysis of the company's ongoing product development programme was precise and insightful. Such was its influence on me that it became the theme for the book. The notes on E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd., prepared by Les Cocking, were also a rich source of information on processes and equipment used in stove making before World War II. He also gave an interesting insight into the competition faced by Ebenezer and his two sons, in the notes he used for his presentation to the Geelong Historical Society, and in his paper on `Geelong Stovemakers', published in the Investigator magazine in March 1972. I am particularly indebted to the many people who generously allowed me to interview them at length on their recollections of issues, events and people that shaped the company. In addition to Alan and Brian Backwell, I wish to thank John Backwell, Robert Backwell, Richard Drury, David Isaac, Peter Klein, Jim McCutcheon, Ross McDonald, Ron Read, Kelvin Stones and David Sykes. Many assisted me in the review of the drafts of this history. My thanks go to Alan Backwell, Brian Backwell, John Backwell, Matthew Backwell, Robert Backwell, Richard Drury, Malcolm Owens, Robin Pennell, Sandra Priddle, David Sykes and Ian Vaughan. Most of the earlier period product pamphlets that illustrate this history come from the Backwell archive. These were supplied by Malcolm Owens, Jon Mullinder and the company's agent Hindsight Advertising. I thank Malcolm, Jon and Hindsight for the readiness with which they met my requests. Many photographs came from sources outside the company. In this regard I thank photographer Ian Hawthorne for his permission to reproduce the photograph of A. L. Backwell and his three sons from One Man's Eye, the Geelong Heritage Centre and its staff for access to the Centre's photographic records, the Geelong Advertiser for permission to reproduce the photograph by Phillip Stubbs on the front page of the of the newspaper of 14 April 1998, and Zoe Alderson for permission to use her photographs of the foundry at Backwell's Wood Street factory. In addition, I thank Tony Armstrong, Nicole Manks and Martin Attwood of Creative Force, who provided digital copies of photographs used throughout the book. The design of this book and its cover is the unique work of Roy Walshe of Roy Walshe Graphic Design. Roy applied his creative talents to this history with skill and innovation. Sally McLean of Incognita Enterprises was editor. Her

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rigorous and insightful editing, as well as her many suggestions, have improved this history markedly. Judy McLean proofread the many drafts that I produced. I am not only indebted to Judy for this, but for her support, which made this project possible. I also extend my thanks to Michelle French, Sue Winduss and Julie Bottrell of Backwell's administration, for their assistance in answering my many requests during the preparation of this book. While the people acknowledged here contributed significantly to the research and narration of this history, I, alone, am responsible for the content of the book and the interpretation of the research material.

Al McLean April 2008

Sandra Priddle and David Sykes. The Backwell IXL 150th Anniversary Committee. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

INTRODUCTION

Introduction

This is primarily a business history, and as such, does not deal to any great extent with the principal players, except insofar as their decisions and actions affected the fortunes of the business. Instead the story largely follows the quest of the owners and directors to develop sustainable core product lines in the cooking and heating appliance markets. In this regard the story is one of continuous product development. To a lesser extent it is a study of the company's attempts to diversify into other products, particularly those that could be manufactured using its equipment and special skills. While cooking and heating appliances have dominated the life of the company, in the last two decades diversified product lines have assumed a more important role in its successes. Today it is one of the leading manufacturers of domestic heating appliances in Australia, as well as being a producer of contract pressings and metal castings. The name of the business changed over time. In the 1870s Ebenezer's stove works made its products under the name E. Backwell. On 1 January 1891 the business began trading as E. Backwell & Son, but after Ebenezer's death in 1902, operated for a short time as Backwell Bros., before reverting to E. Backwell & Son. On 14 February 1923, the business was registered as a company under the name E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd., and finally on 20 May 1977 the company name was changed to Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. There was a similar evolution in the format of the business logo. Up until the 1920s the logo used on stoves and in advertising was IXL. During the late 1920s and early 1930s the logo was changed to I.X.L. and remained that way until the late 1970s. It then became iXL and remained as such until the early 1990s, when it took its current form of IXL. The convention adopted in this history is to depict the business logo throughout as IXL. Contrary to received opinions on the fragility of long-term family businesses, this history shows how a family business can be built and maintained sustainably. It is an example of what it takes to survive in manufacturing in Australia today.

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It is rare to find any company that has been operating continuously for 150 years. But this is the case with Backwell IXL. This longevity has been due, in large part, to the fact that the leadership has been in the hands of the same family for five generations. All but the last generation has held executive roles in the business. Ebenezer (1821-1902) led the business for its first 44 years, Ebenezer's sons, Edwin Walter (1868-1941) and Albert Ernest (1870-1940) were partners and directors for 47 and 38 years respectively, with Edwin Walter being the senior partner and Managing Director for 39 years of his time as a director. They were followed by Albert Ernest's son, Albert Leslie (1896-1983), who was Executive Chairman for 34 of the 37 years he held directorship of the company. Albert Leslie became a director in 1938. Edwin Walter's son Edwin Lyle (1902-1991) was a director of the company for 42 years beginning in 1938. Albert Leslie's son, Brian (1932- ), was Executive Chairman for 30 years of his 47 years as a director. Brian managed the business with the support of his brothers Alan (1928- ) who was a director for 47 years and John (1936- ) who was a director for 29 years. The current Chairman is Brian's son, Robert Peter (1964- ) who has been a director since 1998 and held the position of non-executive Chairman for three years. Alan's son, Matthew Hartley (1964- ) has been a nonexecutive director of the company since 2001, when Alan's elder son Jonathon Leslie (1962- ) resigned after four years as a director of the company. Members of each generation adopted the same code of practice throughout the life of the company. Brian Backwell, great grandson of the founder Ebenezer discussed these practices in an interview with Kasey Drayton of the Geelong Business News in 1995. He stated that: We have always maintained conservative financial management and continually re-invested our money back into the business. We've never financially over stretched ourselves and have managed to remain innovative. I guess one of our greatest attributes is that we've always been persistent. Some products might not have been as successful as we'd hoped, but we were not put off, we persisted.1 The directors also demonstrated resilience at times of national economic downturn. Some of their major moves paid off, others were not so successful. But they maintained a `can do' attitude and demonstrated a confidence that was based on a culture of innovation and enterprise. As John Backwell observed `we fought above our weight',2 and as time was to tell, they won enough bouts to last for 150 years.

1891­1901

INTRODUCTION

Family members who were/are principals and/or directors of the Backwell business

Ebenezer Backwell

Edwin Walter Backwell

Albert Ernest Backwell

Edwin Lyle Backwell

Albert Leslie Backwell

Alwyn Robert Albert (Alan) Backwell

Brian Owen Leslie Backwell

Edwin John William Backwell

Matthew Hartley Backwell

Jonathon Leslie Backwell

Robert Peter Backwell

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E. Backwell Stove Works at 22 Aberdeen Street, West Geelong (circa 1878). Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Chapter 1

The early years

Establishing the business

Ebenezer Backwell set up business as a blacksmith in 1858,1 in a wood paling shed located at 22 Aberdeen Street,2 Geelong West, opposite the present day Baptist Church.3 The shed was rented from Silas Harding, an early Geelong landowner.4 Ebenezer started at a time when Geelong was in an economic recession and was losing its position as a major urban centre to Melbourne and the goldfield towns of Ballarat, Castlemaine and Bendigo. This was in stark contrast to the Geelong of 1852, the year Ebenezer first landed in the newly founded Colony of Victoria.5

Geelong's boom time

By early 1851, the population of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales had more than doubled over the previous five years.6 During this period Geelong's population increased significantly from 1,911 to 8,291. In 1848, the Geelong Advertiser echoed the civic pride of the town's leaders when it claimed that the town was the Victorian Colony's Commercial Capital and declared that it `must be the pivot on which the Commercial World turns.'7 Geelong had also become a significant manufacturing centre by 1851 and was proving to be more specialised and export orientated than its Melbourne counterpart.8 Mid-1851 was a significant period for Victoria, as it marked the colony's separation from New South Wales on 1 July and the discovery of gold.9 From Geelong's perspective the discoveries of gold at Buninyong, Clunes and Ballarat had particular significance, as Geelong was the nearest port and major manufacturing centre to the Central Highland gold fields. By the mid-1850s `The people of Geelong regarded Ballarat as their goldfield, and saw it as a guarantee of the town's future greatness and its predominance over Melbourne.'10 The rapid growth of the

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Print of S. T. Gill's drawing of Steam Packet Wharf, Mack's Hotel, etc. Geelong. Published by Sands & Kenny, Melbourne & Sydney, 1856. Courtesy of the Geelong Heritage Centre.

goldfields and large-scale immigration created markets for mining equipment, household goods, clothing, food, beverages, transport services and importantly, from the points of view of blacksmiths, engineering services and repairs. Between 1851 and 1854 the population of Victoria tripled, growing from 77,345 to 236,798. During this period Melbourne consolidated its position as the colony's major urban centre with its share of the colony's population increasing from 30 to 32 per cent. Ebenezer Backwell, his wife Mary Ann and son Ebenezer, all from Guernsey in the Channel Isles, arrived in the midst of this boom when they disembarked in Melbourne from the ship Bombay on 14 December 1852, having sailed from Plymouth, England on 29 August 1852.11 Immediately upon arrival Ebenezer took up employment with a Mr. Darby in Bourke Street, Melbourne for £2/2/ - per week. Although many tried their luck in the Victorian gold fields, it appears that Ebenezer resisted the gold rush mania, choosing instead to apply himself to his trade as a blacksmith over a period of six years in central Melbourne and Richmond.12 During this time Ebenezer and his family lived in Collingwood.13 The steady growth of the Geelong community between 1854 and 1857 was not reflected in employment in the manufacturing sector, which remained essentially flat. Nevertheless there was a significant rise in employment in 1857 for blacksmiths, founders, mechanical engineers and mechanics.

T H E E A R LY Y E A R S

The economy turns

Stormy times were on the way. 1857, the year before Ebenezer started his business in Geelong, proved to be a time of great change in the Victorian economy. It was the last year of high levels of immigration,14 a number of Victorian mining companies collapsed and gold production began to slide.15 During this time a number of mercantile companies also failed. Alarmingly the first sign of significant unemployment occurred in Melbourne.16 Speculation, over-trading and over-importation were the order of the day and this, coupled with high levels of unemployment and immigration, resulted in rapid deflation of prices and wages. Geelong was not immune. While the town's population decreased by only 1.5 per cent between 1857 and 1861, employment in both the total workforce and the manufacturing sector fell by 14 per cent.17 In terms of trades, employment in most categories decreased, with blacksmiths, founders and mechanical engineers falling from 305 in 1857 to 261 in 1861.18 Over the period of 1858 to 1861 the number of blacksmith businesses fell from 75 to 61.19 At the same time Geelong was facing a challenge from Ballarat, which was developing rapidly as a manufacturing centre. In all Ebenezer Backwell had chosen a difficult time to start his business in Geelong.

Ebenezer Backwell's cashbook. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Print of S.T. Gill's drawing of Market Square North side Geelong. Published by Sands & Kenny, Melbourne & Sydney, 1857. Courtesy of the Geelong Heritage Centre.

The skill of Ebenezer Backwell

Ebenezer made ironwork for builders and grave sites, seed drills for agriculture, and tools for general use. He also sharpened picks and other implements for the councils of the area. Around 1878, a sign above his Stove Works in Aberdeen Street advertised that Ebenezer was a whitesmith, oven and range maker and bell hanger.20 According to Les Cocking, a long-time employee of E. Backwell and Son Pty. Ltd., an example of Ebenezer's bell hanging was to be found at Erskine House in Lorne, in Victoria, in the 1970s.21 Today only the dinner bell exists. A stove in the photograph of the Backwell Stove Works in 1878 is marked `E. BACKWELL IMPROVED COTTAGE RANGE'. From this it could be assumed that Ebenezer was producing his own stoves from as early as 1878. Certainly Cocking suggests that this was so.22 However, research for this history did not identify any other evidence to support this assumption. Instead the documents show that Ebenezer was producing stoves under contract to Charles Andrews throughout the period of the late 1870s to the early 1890s. This is addressed further in chapter two. Ebenezer was a skilled tradesman and was recognized by the Shire of Ripon with a medallion. He also received an award for a model of a stove shown at the Industrial Exhibition held in Geelong in 1879-1880.23 Cocking cited handmade

T H E E A R LY Y E A R S

stable door hinges at Sladen House in Geelong, and latch work and a water tap on an early model stove at Lorne.24 Ebenezer's skill was also evident in the small hand tools he produced. According to Cocking, a tradesman of 40 years standing, the hand-formed letters on a punch used for marking items could not have been formed better in a modern tool room of the early 1970s.25

Model stove built by Ebenezer Backwell. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Drawings used for Ebenezer Backwell's patent application for the IXL back draught fitting.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

Chapter 2

The emergence of the IXL stove

Stove making in Geelong

The early cooking stoves used in Geelong and its hinterland were imported from England. They were provided as a prefabricated pack, consisting of a cast iron front, top and firebox with doors made from sheet iron. As supplied, the oven had no back, sides, bottom or flue. These were built in brick by a range setter, whose job was generally acknowledged to be exacting and tedious.1 Some imported cooking stoves were damaged in transit and had to be repaired before they could be sold by local ironmongers, and this provided work for blacksmiths such as Ebenezer Backwell.2 The first stoves made in Geelong were modified versions of these early cooking stoves. In 1876 James Alexander Parker set up his stove making business at 234-238 Moorabool Street, Geelong, under the trade name `Pivot'.3 He produced an improved top-fire oven by fitting a iron case around the oven and including a cast iron top and flue pipe. This self-setting oven was widely known as the `one fire stove.'4 In 1877 Charles Andrews commercialised his patent `Nonpareil' self-setting stove.5 Andrews arrived in the Colony in 1848 where he found work as a bricklayer and range setter. He developed his stove design from his experience of working with English stoves. Andrews completely enclosed his stove in a sheet iron case with the flue already in place. The design made it possible for the stove to stand alone, or to be built in with brick hobs by the handyman, because the installation procedure was so simple.6 The design incorporated two draught controls, known as oven dampers, which allowed the stove to operate as two separate ovens. The stove was available in three models and sold for £10 in 1882.7 It should be noted that Andrews did not manufacture his range of stoves but contracted the work out

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to Ebenezer Backwell and the H. F. Evans' Eagle Foundry in Cavendish Street, Geelong. This site is now occupied by Winter and Taylor. Evans cast the top, front and firebox parts out of cast iron and Backwell made up the remainder of the stove in sheet iron and incorporated the cast iron sections. 8 While Andrews' `Nonpareil' self-setting stove became the model for future stove developed in the Colony, the design had a limitation. When lighting the stove the heated air had to travel around the oven before it reached the flue. This meant that it took some time before the flue became hot enough to cause an updraft. Ebenezer Backwell had the answer to this problem. In his improved design the conventional flue was divided into front and rear sections, with the front section being placed directly above the firebox. When the fire was lit, with the front damper open, the draft bypassed the oven and was drawn directly into the rear flue. Once the fire was alight, the flue damper was closed allowing the heated air to circulate to the ovens, which were controlled by separate dampers. Backwell's design significantly decreased heating time. This principle was still used in solid fuel stove design of the 1970s.9

Shifting premises

Ebenezer's business prospered and he decided to move from his rented shed at Aberdeen Street. In 1891 he purchased a 30-foot frontage property (60-foot depth to Martins Lane) at 79 Gheringhap Street, for £8 per foot.10 Today the site is occupied by Mercure Hotel Geelong. The move from Aberdeen to Gheringhap Street was completed by 1895.11 Not only did Ebenezer expand his business in a new location, but he took his sons Edwin Walter and Albert Ernest into the business.12 As of 1 January 1891 the business began trading as E. Backwell & Son.13 Edwin was made a partner in 1894 and Albert was bequeathed Ebenezer's share of the business upon the condition that he paid £25 to Edwin.14

The rise and fall of the Geelong economy

In the 1870s and 1880s Geelong prospered and so did its manufacturing sector. While Geelong's population between 1870/71 and 1890/91 only increased by 3,000,15 in the same period the number of manufacturers increased from 56 to 124, manufacturing employment rose from 719 to 1,678 and investment in manufacturing machinery climbed from £77,886 to £252,135.16 In addition a number of large manufacturers established their works in Geelong. These included Barwon Woollen Mill (1873), Union Woollen Mill (1874), the Barwon Paper Mill

T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

Stove Works of E. Backwell & Son at Gheringhap Street, Geelong (circa 1903). Left to right: ? Kilynack, unknown, unknown, J. Audsley, Edwin Walter Backwell, Jack Jones, H. F. Christopher, Albert Ernest Backwell.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

(1878), Cheetham Salt (1888) and the Australian Portland Cement Company (1889). While the land boom of the 1880s centered on Melbourne, Geelong also benefited. Between 1887 and 1889 there was some £200,000 of building investment in the town. This was made up of extensions to existing buildings and the erection of new ones, such as the Geelong Club, the Mercantile Bank and the Gordon Technical College.17 Ebenezer's decision to expand his business coincided with the economic bust of the early 1890s that brought `Marvellous Melbourne' to its knees. On the surface Ebenezer's timing was bold if not propitious. But there was no shortage of confidence in Geelong. George M. Hitchcock, the town's leading retailer and the first President of the reconstituted Geelong Chamber of Commerce led the way when, in 1891-92, he stated: I consider I am safe in saying that notwithstanding the cloud of depression that is passing over the colony [of Victoria] just now Geelong is as commercially sound and perhaps more so than any other place in the colony.18 Hitchcock's statement proved to be optimistic. Between 1891 and 1895 Geelong's population remained static, and the number of its manufacturers tumbled.19 It is

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not known if Ebenezer, Edwin and Albert were influenced by statements from the President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, however it is fair to assume that they would have been influenced by the prosperous times of the late 1880s, when the ideas of changing premises and launching a new stove business would most likely have been formulated.

Making and promoting the IXL stove

The patent held by Andrews expired around 1893 - a date which coincides with Ebenezer's application for a patent for his direct draught principle and his entry into the stove market in his own right. The Backwells must have thought about taking this action for some years, for in 1890 Ebenezer had coined the brand name `IXL' for his stove. This motto stood for `I excel' and was developed in response to Andrew's Latin motto `Non Pareil', meaning `without parallel'.20 Ebenezer's action was supported, if not prompted, by Edwin, who `suggested to his father that instead of working for Andrews that we should make a stove for ourselves.' 21 Soon after Andrews set up his own factory in Fenwick Street, on the site subsequently occupied by Pivot Ice Works.22 Backwell's action in setting up in opposition was strongly resented by Andrews and it is fair to say that relations between the two men were `strained' thereafter.23

Advertisment for E. Backwell & Son (circa 1891). Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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While the instant popularity of the IXL stoves was due to the direct draught feature,24 they had the additional advantage of being able to fit a hot water circulating coil to the stove, which delivered hot water to a storage cylinder.25 In the 1890s the agricultural shows around Victoria acted as a shop front for Backwell IXL stoves, where Ebenezer set them up as working models. Even Ebenezer's daughter Alice was recruited to demonstrate her cooking on the IXL stove.26 This sales promotion was very successful and the business prospered.27 On 8 August 1902 Ebenezer died, aged 81, and Edwin and Albert assumed the leadership of the business.28 Ebenezer was successful because he maintained a simple approach to his business, focused on a specialised range of products and was always financially conservative in running his business. In addition he always worked to the resources that were available; used simple equipment, which kept the capital requirements at a modest level; and continually reinvested profits back into the business. There is little doubt that he brought great trade skills to the business, a reputation for quality and considerable experience in manufacturing stoves. He, with the support of his sons Edwin and Albert, exhibited an entrepreneurial flair in the way they commercialised the direct draught principle and established tenure for the IXL stove in the Victorian market. Ebenezer and his sons did this despite the competition from local and imported products and the constraints of the depressions of the late 1850s and early1890s.29

The Backwell Anvil. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Chapter 3

Changing of the guard

Setting up the foundry

Under the name Backwell Bros.,1 Edwin and Albert set about expanding the manufacturing and marketing activities of the business. In 1902 the partnership set up a foundry at Gheringhap Street with J. Audsley as foreman.2 While it is not known if Ebenezer had a foundry in mind when he purchased the property in Gheringhap Street, the acquisition of this land made the installation of a foundry possible. Up until 1902 Evans' Eagle Foundry supplied cast iron components for the IXL stoves.3 By having their own foundry the brothers gained greater control over the manufacturing process and provided the basis for expanding into new markets. It is interesting to note that when the Geelong Market Square clock tower was dismantled in October 1923, the iron components were melted down by the Backwell company and turned into stoves.4

Edwin Walter Backwell.

Courtesy of A. R. A. Backwell.

Models of the first IXL stove

The first IXL stove produced had a three-foot three-inch Courtesy of A. R. A. Backwell. double oven. This was followed by a two-foot single oven. The double oven stove had only one damper, which was closed when only one oven was needed. The single oven stove was made from the three-foot three-inch double oven pattern with the left-hand oven removed, but did not have a damper.5 As a consequence both designs had the same oven and firebox. Next in the series was the three-foot six-inch heavy-duty double oven. Again when a single oven

Albert Ernest Backwell.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

IXL `No. 1' stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `No. 2' stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `No. 3' stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL

Illustration of an IXL stove that was representative of No. 2 to No. 6 stoves, fitted with a circulating half coil and copper side boiler. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

was required the left-hand oven pattern was removed and a piece inserted to widen the oven front to 30-inch. The same fire door and ash pan was used in both models. In about 1908 there was a demand for a stove that would fit the chimney brickwork of houses then being built. As a result the Backwell brothers produced new patterns for a 27-inch stove. At this time the partners switched to cast iron doors for a range of stoves, including the 27-inch model. The numbering system adopted for the general stove range was somewhat complicated. The 24-inch stove was designated as `No. 1', the 30-inch stove as `No. 1a' and the 27-inch stove as `No. 1c'. All stoves could be fitted with a circulating water coil for the supply of domestic hot water.6

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Selling IXL stoves

Edwin and Albert were particularly enthusiastic about marketing and to this end appointed selling agents throughout Victoria.7 Their first move was to appoint Chambers & Seymour as their exclusive Melbourne agent. Although a young partnership, Chambers & Seymour, had the considerable advantage of being located on the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets ­ a prominent site in Melbourne. The partnership also augmented its promotion of IXL stoves by always having a large stand at the annual Royal Melbourne Show.8 This attracted business from country and Melbourne residents alike. It is interesting to note at this time country people usually delayed purchasing their plant and machinery until they visited the Show. This practice extended to their purchase of stoves. In 1919 Chambers & Seymour moved to Flinders Street, east of the intersection with Elizabeth Street. Evidently the high cost of maintaining a shop at the intersection of Swanston and Collins Streets caused the move to this new location.9 At this time Albert Leslie, the son of Albert Ernest, thought that Chambers & Seymour was unable to cope with the increasing demand from builders and the public for IXL stoves. As a result E. Backwell & Son appointed a number of hardware stores in Melbourne as additional agents, on the proviso that their supplies of stoves were obtained through Chambers & Seymour. This usually led to the new agents selling at a loss.10 Agents were also appointed in Victorian country towns. These

Stove Works at Gheringhap Street, Geelong (circa 1904). Courtesy Backwell IXL.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

included Andrew Cant in Ballarat, W. Faul in Bendigo,11 Castle Bros. in Kyneton and Hubble Bros in Maryborough. Cant was very loyal to E. Backwell & Son selling only IXL stoves in his store. Later on additional agents were appointed in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. These included Risbeys in Mildura, Mates in Albury, Irvings in Wangaratta, J. R. Green in Launceston and Cune & Co. in Hobart.12 At this time competition in Geelong came not only from Andrews' `Nonpareil' stoves and Parker's `Pivot' stoves but also stoves made by an engineer named Page. He set up the Page Stove Works in 1907 in a galvanized iron building located at the intersection of Mercer and Malop Streets. Page promoted his stove using the slogan `The new Page is all the rage'. This stove used Backwell's direct draught principle as the Backwell patent had by then expired. It was a rugged stove with a variable height firebox, for which Evan's Foundry made the cast iron components.13

The lean years of World War I

There was little business for E. Backwell & Son during the war years of 19141918 for house building and development came to a stand still and few munitions were then manufactured in Australia. In addition to low levels of demand, raw materials were scarce. Before 1914 iron sheets came from England and Germany. With the outbreak of war, sources of iron from England virtually disappeared and supplies from Germany were prohibited. This crisis led Edwin and Albert to make modifications to the range of IXL stoves. This applied specifically to the two oven shelves, the baking dish and screens, which were partially fitted to the sides and top of all stoves. Because of the shortages all screens and one shelf were eliminated in a bid to conserve iron.14 The baking dish was discontinued in the early years of World War II.15

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Chapter 4

Managing the boom

Demand returns

In 1919 Albert Leslie Backwell returned home from World War I having served overseas with the Australian Imperial Forces for three and a half years.1 During this time he served in the Army Service Corps with the 5th Division in Egypt and France. Les, as he was known, attended Matthew Flinders School and Geelong College. Before joining the army in 1915, he worked briefly with J. Dyson and Son, textile engineers, and then joined the family's stove manufacturing business at Gheringhap Street. After returning from active Albert Leslie Backwell. service he studied accountancy by correspondence. He was Courtesy of A. R. A. Backwell. elected as an Associate of the Federal Institute of Accountants in 1925.2 The 1920s was a very important time for the business, as the post-war housing boom stimulated the demand for IXL stoves. This remained constant through to 1927 and the business prospered.3 The brand IXL was very well known in Victoria and newspaper advertisements offering houses for sale generally featured an IXL stove as a desirable feature. By 1926, Albert Leslie had small numbers attached to the front patterns, between the fire door and the top of the oven door. Prior to this IXL stoves had no markings to distinguish them from others in the series.4 In 1930 the trade name IXL was placed in one of the top corners of the stove front and the size of the stove in the other.5 Before 1920 the Backwell factory obtained its power from a single-cylinder De Dion Bouton car engine and later, a large single-cylinder horizontal internal combustion engine. At one stage the large engine broke a connecting rod sending pieces of metal through an adjoining wall, adding a touch of excitement to the

MANAGING THE BOOM

normal working day. These energy sources powered grinding wheels, drills and a fan that supplied forced air to the furnace via a six-inch diameter underground pipe.6 Around 1920, the partnership had direct current electricity installed. At the time this was the only electrical power available in Geelong as it was used for the city's trams.7 In 1922 the business purchased the first spot welder in Geelong.8 As this equipment needed alternating current to operate efficiently, the business had a rotary converter installed. This was not successful and, in 1925, the partners successfully negotiated with the electric supply authority for alternating current electricity to be made available to the business.9 Subsequently the company purchased another E.M.F. spot welder, and each of the line shafts had a new five horsepower electric motor installed. The buoyant period prompted P. Kendall to set up his `Geelong' Stove Works at 15 Ryrie Street, Geelong around 1921. Kendall was a long-term employee of Andrews, and it was not unexpected that his `Geelong' stove should have resembled the `Nonpareil' stove. Again Evans Foundry provided the cast iron components. This work was later carried out by the Dysons Foundry.10

Name plate of E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Registering the new company

E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd. was registered on 14 February 1923 with capital of £30,000. Ordinary shareholders were Edwin Walter (7,500 shares), Albert Ernest (7,500 shares), Edwin Lyle (3,000 shares) and Albert Leslie (3,000 shares). Preference shares were issued to Alice Maude (4,500 shares) and Elizabeth Clara (4,500 shares).11 The directors of the new private company were Edwin Walter and Albert Ernest. Edwin Walter was the company's first Managing Director and Albert Leslie the company's first Secretary.12 Edwin Walter was apprenticed to the trade at the Backwell stove works about the time of the transfer of the operation from Aberdeen Street to Gheringhap Street. For 25 years he was one of the three employer representatives on the Cooking

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Meetings of Directors: Minute Book entry for 22 February 1923. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Stove Wages Board for provincial cities. He was also a member of the Geelong Publicity Council, for which he acted as `Ambassador' during his overseas trip in 1928-29. His involvement in community affairs included being an honorary trustee of the Alexander Miller Homes, a member of Rotary and the committee of the Geelong Permanent Building Society. At one time he was also a deputy coroner. Edwin Walter devoted many years to the Yarra Street Methodist Church where he was a member and treasurer of the church trust. He was well known in Masonic circles. In his younger days he played junior football, was a gunner in the Geelong Volunteer Artillery and an active member of the Barwon Rowing Club.13

Launching the `Triumph'

The directors registered IXL as a trademark of the company in 1928. At the same time they registered the name `Triumph' for a new IXL stove. To accommodate the manufacture of this new product the directors purchased Beck's wood yard on the southern boundary of the Gheringhap Street site. At the time the factory area was declared by the City of Geelong to be part of a zone in which buildings

MANAGING THE BOOM

could only be made of brick. As a result, the galvanized iron frontage adjoining the office, through to the new extension, was replaced by a brick wall. In addition, the eastern side of the factory site, where the forge and sheet metal cutting sections were housed, was also replaced by a brick wall and the roof raised to the level of the other parts of the building.14 The directors employed Edwin Walter's son, Edwin Lyle Backwell, to supervise the production of Edwin Lyle Backwell. the `Triumph' stove. The foundry foreman of the time was Courtesy of A. R. A. Backwell. A. E. Robertson, who joined the business as a boy around 1908.15 Launching a new product and expanding the factory on the eve of the Great Depression were risky undertakings, but they paid off. The `Triumph' range of low cost top-fire stoves were named IXL `No. 9' and `No.10' and came in sizes of 24 and 30-inches, respectively. `Triumph' sold well in Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland, where it met the particular needs of stoves for shearers.16 It was also sold to the Victorian Railways for gatekeepers' shelters.17 Over 50 years later the same name was used for the two-lamp `Tastic' bathroom appliance, which became the company's best selling product. The development of the `Triumph' stove necessitated the purchase of a new

Stove Works of E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd. at Gheringhap Street, Geelong in 1931. Left to right (standing): Wally Kennedy, Bert Robertson, Ray Goodwin, Tom Parker, Edwin Lyle Backwell, Eb. Backwell, Jack Jones, Hughie Holdaway, H. F. Christopher, Edwin Walter Backwell, Albert Leslie Backwell. Left to right (sitting): Ern Beardon, Rupert Grinter, George Smallman, Percy Jowett, Harry Gilling. Absent: Gilbert Dant, Albert Ernest Backwell, and Les Cocking.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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IXL `Triumph' stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

E.M.F. spot welder, a six-foot guillotine and a six-foot Heine folder. All of this equipment was relocated to the Wood Street factory some forty years on. The company achieved cost savings by improving the way materials were used. For example the incorporation of a cast iron flue box in the `Triumph' stove eliminated the laborious job of forming a 20-gauge bottom flue pipe, which was normal practice in the manufacture of IXL stoves. In addition the design of the `Triumph' allowed for a small diameter flue pipe, which yielded four lengths of flue from each six-foot sheet of steel. Up until this time larger diameter flues had been used in IXL stoves, which yielded only three flue pipes per steel sheet. This design change eliminated the waste of six inches of steel per sheet, and saved the cost of dumping the off-cuts in the South Geelong tip. This was an example of the relentless quest of managing cost that has characterized the manufacturing practice of the company through to the present day.18 An example of the use of new product technology was the replacement of imported fancy wrought iron knobs by the new `Bakelite' thermosetting plastic knobs on the oven doors and dustpans of IXL stoves. The `Bakelite' knob could be screwed to the door thus eliminating the ever-present problem of breaking the cast iron doors when riveting the shank of

MANAGING THE BOOM

the iron knob. The use of knobs was further refined by the incorporation of a protruding lug in the cast iron door. This design change eliminated one knob per stove.19 Another case of reducing cost through the adoption of new technology was the use of tube hinges. By incorporating these hinges in the cast iron door, the need to drill holes in the casting was eliminated.20 This innovation was identified by Edwin Walter during a visit to Burdicks in Albany in the United States of America (USA) in 1928-29. An important outcome from Edwin's overseas trip was his conclusion that the wood fuel stove had a positive future. This conclusion was to drive the product philosophy of the company for the next 30 years. At no time did the directors feel that they needed to diversify from this core business.21

IXL Stoves internal dimensions.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Geelong Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures Exhibition 1936, featuring Backwell IXL stand.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Chapter 5

Surviving depression and war

The Great Depression

By late 1929, Geelong and the nation were heading into the Great Depression, which reached its lowest point in 1932. During this period `Australian output fell by 10 per cent, expenditure by 22 per cent, export prices by up to 50 per cent and money wage rates by 20­25 percent. Unemployment trebled'. 1 During the 1920s and early 1930s wheat and wool accounted for five-sixths of Australia's export income. As a result the nation's financial well-being was dependant, to a large degree, upon a prosperous rural sector and a continuous inflow of overseas loan funds. This dependency on foreign borrowings rendered the Australian economy vulnerable to downturns in international financial markets. What is not generally appreciated is that in the decade preceding the Wall Street share market crash in 1929, Australia experienced declining growth rates. In fact Hay and McLean observed: The economy [in Australia] began to move into recession in 1925-26, as export incomes fell and private investment decreased. An associated fall in public sector investment, both federal and state, in the following year hastened the decline in economic growth rates. The apparent prosperity [of the mid to late 1920s] was therefore highly dependent on public sector investment . . . Most historians accept that the depression itself, in distinction to the preceding recession, was largely imported into Australia through falling export prices, decreased demand for exports of primary produce, and a sharp decline in the availability of loan funds.2 Because of its dependence on the distribution and processing of primary goods, Geelong was hit particularly hard by the depression. H. H. Washington, the

S U R V I V I N G D E P R E S S I O N A N D WA R

President of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce from 1929 to 1933, was also manager of the National Bank of Australasia. He likened the Great Depression to the financial crash of the early 1890s, and attributed the same causes to both. In essence he believed that `we have gone too fast and been extravagant.'3 He observed that expenditure must be reduced in line with income ­ a policy that Ebenezer and his sons had practiced for decades.

Casualties and survivors

The Backwell company was busy up until 1927 when there was a general falling of demand for IXL stoves. One of the casualties of the depression was Backwell's Melbourne agent, Chambers & Seymour, which closed its business around 1929. The agent was never financially strong and this led to the practice of paying Backwells by three months promissory note. But as Albert Leslie recalled the agent `never failed to meet their obligations'.4 The Backwell directors were very appreciative of the support of Chambers & Seymour and their work in establishing the IXL name in the stove market. The directors kept the Backwell Stove Works going through the Great Depression, although in 1931, they were forced to reduce the working week to three days.5 The inter-war years were difficult for the nation and Geelong. `While agricultural and other commodity prices fluctuated widely, input costs - wages, manufactured goods and distribution - rose.'6 Despite the financial difficulties of the time the directors purchased a new four-foot six-inch guillotine and a four by four-inch compressor to drive the new `Tabor' moulding machine used in making castings for the IXL `No. 12' stoves. This was not successful and the castings had to be made by the traditional floor casting method. Years later the `Tabor' moulding machine was used at the Wood Street factory. Around 1946, the compressor provided air for spraying stoves and in about 1971 it was sold to Aikman Engineering in Victoria Street, Geelong.7

Introducing the `Plus' series

As an example of the directors' positive thinking in difficult times, they introduced a completely new range of all cast iron stoves called the `Plus Series' in 1936. This new line of stoves required the purchase of new plant and equipment. The major item was a new balanced blast Cupola furnace to replace two smaller furnaces, which had been in the ownership of the company since 1908. The new furnace, made by Mains of Melbourne and erected by George and George, came

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IXL Enamelling Colour Chart showing IXL `Plus Series' cooking stove (circa 1935). Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Mottled Enamel Price List. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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into production in 1936. Other new equipment included an electroplating plant used for plating stove edge strips. This was purchased second-hand from Charles Malpas, owner of Victorian Die Moulders in Little Ryrie Street, Geelong.8 In the mid-1930s it was common practice to enamel the fronts of solid fuel stoves. In the case of the `Plus Series' enamelling was carried out by APEM of Pakington Street, St. Kilda. The patterns for the new series were made by Backwell's foundryman A. E. Robertson. These patterns were produced in such numbers that the directors had to purchase a small oil-fired furnace to melt the aluminum from which the patterns were made.9 The `Plus Series' had limited success however, as the stove casing was susceptible to cracking and rusting.10 The `No. 4 Series' replaced the `Plus Series' around 1942.11 This new line of stoves had a simplified design and method of production. They were constructed from composite steel sheet and cast iron components, much in the same way that the original IXL stoves had been made. Many of the patterns from the existing IXL range, such as the firebox, were employed in the production of the `No. 4 Series'. This included tops and doors used for the `Plus Series'.12 In 1940 a pattern maker with stove experience was employed to make patterns for heavy-duty stoves. At this time the directors purchased the first hand squeeze machines and slip flasks.

Battling in wartime

The early years of World War II were disastrous for E. Backwell & Son Pty Ltd. Within 12 months the company lost nearly all of its leaders. On 15 April 1940 Albert Ernest died. His death was followed by the passing of H. F. Christopher, the Works Manager, on 17 February 1941 and the death of Edwin Walter on 1 July of the same year.13 Albert Leslie noted that `These three key men were associated together in the business for over 40 years, and their loss was severely felt at this difficult time'.14 In 1941 Albert Leslie was appointed Managing Director. As the war progressed, production of stoves for domestic use virtually ceased. In the early period, Queensland Pastoral Supplies were taking 24-inch `No. 4 Series' IXL stoves, which they marketed under the name `Gumleaf'. Over time shipping became scarce and it was difficult for the company to supply stoves to places such as Queensland.15 The demand for stoves for civilian purposes nevertheless persisted and customers would purchase stoves whenever they could. As a result the Australian Government was forced to institute a permit system, under which no stove could be supplied for private purposes without government approval.16 The company supplied the Australian Army with cooking stoves including

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IXL `8A' stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

the four-foot six-inch `No. 8' double oven, previously sold for use in hotels and shearing sheds; the four-foot `No. 6' oven that was supplied to all the services; and the three-foot six-inch IXL oven, fitted with side boilers, that was supplied to the Australian Women's Army Service.17 In addition to stoves the company produced hub castings for the Ford Motor Company. The directors were aware of the need to optimize output whenever they could. As a case in point, motorized grinders were installed to redress the problem of flat belt slippage, which was limiting production output. Unfortunately, their efforts were curbed when their pattern maker and four foundry moulders left. The moulders joined Black's Foundry, which was producing ordinance castings for the Department of Defence.18

THE END OF AN ERA

Chapter 6

The end of an era

Post-war demand

After the War there was pent-up demand for stoves resulting from wartime restrictions. This demand was further fuelled by the influx of migrants who came to Australia from war-ravaged Britain and Europe looking for a better life. While most of these migrants settled in the capital cities, many chose to settle in country towns such as Geelong. Between 1947 and 1954 Geelong's population grew from 65,743 to 88,971, an increase of 35.3 per cent.1 From 1949 to 1972,the Commonwealth Government encouraged private enterprise development and international investment in Australia through its tariff regulations and other policies. As a result, population growth was accompanied by full employment and a degree of prosperity not dreamt of in the 1930s. As the expectations of the population rose so did their demand for public amenities and housing.2

Making up lost ground

In the immediate post-war period the company held substantial orders from the Victorian Housing Commission, the Soldiers Settlement Commission and the Public Works Department, as well as normal retail orders. In all, the company held some two years of back orders. The directors were under considerable pressure because the foundry had limited capacity, which restricted stove production to 20 per day. In an effort to come to grips with this supply problem the directors focused the company's manufacturing activities on the plain finished single oven models: the 24-inch `No.4', the 27-inch `No. 4c' and the 30-inch `No. 4a'. They also agreed with their sales staff that the supply of IXL stoves should be rationed between the company's agents.3 Accordingly hardware merchants were allocated

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two or three stoves a month. In fact, in the end, they took whatever was given to them. The problem of meeting the demand was exacerbated by a shortage of materials and suitable labour. John Backwell recalled his father travelling to Melbourne by train to beg John Lysaght (Australia) for steel. Albert Leslie concluded at the time that it was `just difficult to make things'.4 In addition there was a shortage of subcontractors in Geelong.5 This forced the company to carry out all stages of the manufacturing process in-house and stimulated an investment philosophy that influenced the company's approach to manufacturing for decades to come.

The Board of 1958

In those days Albert Leslie was supported by Les Cocking, who looked after manufacturing and J. N. (John) Moffat who, in addition to being company secretary, was responsible for administration.6 All were directors of the company in 1958, along with E. L. (Lyle) Backwell, A. R. A. (Alan) Backwell and B. O. L. (Brian) Backwell.7 Lyle, a son of Edwin Walter Backwell, was also a shareholder in the company. He was subsequently bought out by Albert Leslie. Cocking worked for three generations of the Backwell Les Cocking. family. He joined the company on 8 October 1923, receiving Courtesy of Backwell IXL. a wage of 23 shillings per 48 hour week. In 1932 he was made a general blacksmith and remained in that position until the forge was closed in 1942. At that time he was made Works Manager of the Gheringhap Street factory. When this site was closed he moved to the Wood Street factory as Plant Engineer.8

Equipping the machine shop

In parallel with the company's efforts to meet the demand for its products, the directors invested in a range of new equipment. Welding equipment and a vertical drill were acquired, a dust extraction plant was installed and an old model McPhersons lathe was purchased from Smith and Searls of Church Street, Richmond. Given the high demand for machine tools at the time, the acquisition of the lathe was considered to be a coup. These items of equipment formed the basis of the machine shop that was set up at the Wood Street factory in the early 1960s. In addition to the machining equipment the directors also purchased stove making equipment in the early 1950s. These included a `Horton' six-foot cramp folder and

THE END OF AN ERA

bender, a six-foot guillotine, four Milwaukee moulding machines and two Servex compressor units. These units were subsequently replaced with a single cylinder two-stage Holman compressor, as they ultimately proved to be too small.9

The business is everything

Brian Backwell joined the business in 1952 after completing a commerce degree at Melbourne University. Albert Leslie arranged for Brian to work for R. A. Main in London where he learnt the cooker manufacturing trade. Brian recalled that his father considered the business to be everything, and it was the first thing discussed at lunch around the family table. Each working day Albert Leslie walked from the factory to his home in Maud Street for his midday meal. The first thing Mrs. Backwell would say to him when he entered the house was `Have many orders today?' To which he would answer with the number. Albert Leslie used to say that Post Office Box 177 was his sales force, as in those days most orders came by mail. It was only later on that customers would order their stoves by telephone.10 Albert Leslie's youngest son Edwin John William Backwell, known as John, joined the business in late 1958. John attended Geelong College and graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Gordon Institute of Technology, Geelong. He worked at the Ford Motor Company for about one and a half years before joining

Albert Leslie Backwell with his sons (left to right) John, Brian and Alan. Courtesy of Ian Hawthorne. Contained in One

Man's Eye: A Decade of People - Geelong 1980-1990', Bacchus Marsh, Joval Publications, Australian Edition, 1990, p. 109.

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the business. John left the company in October 1987. His shareholding was bought by Alan and Brian.11 Alan, Brian and John worked in the business during their tertiary education holidays. The tradition was carried on through to Alan and Brian's children, Rob, Matt, Jon, Mike, Peter and Penny, who worked in the business in a similar manner.

Delivering the goods

Orders for stoves were delivered to their respective shipping points by local transport contractor Robert Purnell. He would call at the works in Gheringhap Street with his horse and cart at 3 o'clock each working afternoon and back the cart into the deep gutter outside the factory. This effectively lowered the tray of the cart to near footpath level, thus facilitating the loading of stoves by hand trolly.12 Stoves destined for Melbourne were picked up first and delivered to the Geelong Wharf, from which they were shipped by the steamers Edina and Courier to the Melbourne Wharf. Once the stoves for Melbourne had been delivered to the Geelong Wharf, Purnell picked up the country orders. These were delivered to the Geelong railway goods sheds for shipment to their respective country destinations.13 IXL stoves were sold at prices that were ex-Geelong Wharf or exGeelong Railway Station.14

`The shop'

At this time the `The Shop', as the Gheringhap Street works was known, extended from Myers Street to Little Myers Street. Over the years the directors acquired

Robert Purnell's horse and cart picking up stoves from the Backwell works at Gheringhap Street, Geelong for delivery to the Geelong Wharf and Geelong Railway Station (circa 1953). Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

THE END OF AN ERA

Showroom at Backwell's Gheringhap Street Stove Works. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

adjoining properties to accommodate the expansion of the business and to lessen the problems with neighbours complaining of iron dust contamination from the Cupola furnace. In addition to the extension of the property to the south, the directors acquired a further 50 feet along Myers Street. This left only the Hooper's 33-foot frontage property in Myers Street not in the company's ownership.15 The stove works was housed in a corrugated iron shed with a brick wall façade to Gheringhap Street. At the northern end of the facade stood a showroom and two offices.

The Gheringhap Street foundry

In the 1950s `stove production . . . required a foundry to produce iron castings, a basic sheet metal facility ­ guillotines, folders, spot welders, rollers, and assembly areas and [a] spray paint booth'.16 The foundry was the heart of the Gheringhap Street works, and Brian Backwell gave it priority. He described the moulding and finishing processes in some detail: Machinemoulding Brian Backwell. Two moulders produced half moulds in 20"[inches] Courtesy of Backwell IXL. x [by] 16" aluminum boxes (home made) and placed [the] completed boxes on the storage roller conveyor. After about six hours, when the melting campaign began, moulders carried molten iron from the

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Moulders in the E. Backwell & Son foundry at Gheringhap Street, Geelong. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

THE END OF AN ERA

cupola in hand shanks to fill their moulds. A team of moulders worked regular overtime to knock out the floor and machine moulds, separate the hot castings and water down the sand. In the case of machine moulds the return sand was shovelled into a `Royer' sand throwing machine to throw the bins (No. 1s). Floormoulding Each moulder worked his own row calling on the adjoining moulder to assist him to lift down boxes, part the top box, strip the pattern and close the two halves. He [the moulder] made about twenty-five boxes in six hours and then caught his molten metal and most times double poured his boxes with another moulder. His row of sand had been wet down the previous day. He shovelled it over and filled the cast iron moulding boxes of various sizes . . . ramming sand onto the pattern with a rammer about 4'[foot] long ­ one end a peg to ram along bars and the other flat for between the bars. He rammed the bottom half (the drag) first, rolled the pair of boxes over with the pattern in between, rammed the top of the box (the cope), cut the down gates, lifted off the cope, formed the pouring cups, removed the pattern and closed the box ready for pouring after dusting the mould face with graphite. Metalmelting Pig iron, scrap and returns (rejects and runners), limestone and coke were stored in an open yard across [from] . . . Martins Lane. They were weighed into charge boxes, lifted by an overhead hoist and pushed across the gantry to the charge door of the cupola . . . This was a 27" internal diameter British Cast Iron Research Association balanced blast cupola with two rows of upper tyeres to provide secondary air to increase combustion efficiency . . . At the end of the day's melt the drop bottom doors were knocked open and the remaining coke, slag and metal fell through and was doused with water. Next day the furnace man climbed inside and chipped off the walls and patched up with ganister (Fire clay) and a wood fire . . . [was lit] to dry [the furnace] off. The day's metal weight was calculated by adding up each moulder's requirement and the charges dropped onto the wood fire from the gantry height charging door. Some fifteen minutes before molten metal was required and moulding had stopped, the air blast was started and metal trickled down and accumulated in the well. This early metal was dull and was used to pour heavier castings. The flow was stopped by blocking the tap hole with a sand and clay mix called a bot. Each moulder took his heated hand ladle holding about 25 lbs [pounds weight] of metal and filled it from the furnace spout to pour his own row of moulds.

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A Chilean sand mill [was used] to mix `facing sand' from dry floor sand, coal dust, new yellow sand and water. This was sieved onto the patterns to produce a better skin. Some new sand additions were made to both floor and machine areas. At this stage [the 1950s] we were using natural sands ­ silica sands with a natural clay content, some procured locally from the Barwon River. . . After knockout small castings were taken to a rotating barrel to clean off burnt in sand while [the] plate type castings . . . fronts, tops and middle backs were wheel barrowed up a ramp to the brush off table and sand brushed off with a wire brush. . . . The brush off table was a grid connected to the dust exhaust system . . . which also serviced all the grinding wheels ... Stoveassembly The middle back was laid down and [the] oven fitted over the oven rising, the front casting [was] also fitted to the oven, the footplates, which later carried the firebox parts, screwed in and the steel outer case screwed to the front. That assembly was [then] passed on to the top and door fitter . . . Door fitting required some skill in grinding the door faces . . . and bending the cast in mild steel door pins to match up with the sometimes bent fronts. . . . Everything [was] painted with chassis black.17

Facing competition from slow combustion stoves

Throughout the early 1950s the unsatisfied demand for solid fuel stoves in rural markets attracted several overseas makers of slow combustion stoves to import their products into Australia. One of the features of these imports was the combined facility for cooking and heating water for domestic purposes.18 Early stoves had side boilers. Later copper coils were placed under the stovetop.19 It is interesting to note that Ebenezer Backwell pioneered the provision of hot water from a solid fuel stove in the 1890s. In response to this competition the directors introduced the IXL `95' in 1952. This slow combustion stove, developed by Brian Backwell and based on English designs, was launched in the 95th year of the company, thus the name.20 The IXL `95' proved to be difficult to manufacture and only 1,700 were produced.21 By 1950 most stoves were used to generate hot water, which resulted in a corresponding need for hot water storage. The company initially sourced storage cylinders from Wilmax of Geelong West and later on obtained supplies from Braemar. In later years the company marketed a briquette storage hot water unit, but few were sold. The company also promoted an electric hot water booster, which

THE END OF AN ERA

IXL `95' slow combustion stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `72' slow combustion stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

generated hot water when the stove was not lit. However only a few thousand of these were sold.22 In the mid 1950s the directors introduced the `70 Series', which replaced the IXL `95'. This filled the market's need for a slow burning stove that was capable of supplying hot water for the household. Numbers `71', `72' and `73' were known as build-in slow combustion stoves and customers generally purchased one of these to replace an existing stove. IXL `72' was a low cost model, which was available as an insulated free-standing stove that could be used without a chimney.23 In essence this stove could do everything that a £300 imported stove could do, but at a price of only £80. As Brian Backwell recalled the company `made a lot of money out of these'.24 By 1958, there was also a constant demand for larger stoves for use in commercial premises such as hotels and guesthouses.

The end of the solid fuel stove era

In the period following the war, competition in the solid fuel stove market increased dramatically. E. Backwell & Son, found itself competing with manufacturers such as LUX, Harnwell, Graham, Everhot, Andrews, Carmichael (New South Wales), Simpson (South Australia), Metters (all States), Allied Ironfounders, Rayburn and Clayton. The growing use of electricity and gas in the suburbs of Melbourne reduced the market for the Backwell products even

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IXL `Avalon' slow combustion stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `Glenwood' slow combustion stove. Courtesy of

Backwell IXL.

further. This trend flowed on to greater Geelong, which had been a core market for IXL stoves up until the late 1950s. This meant that E. Backwell & Son became more dependent on selling their stoves into rural locations, such as Bendigo and Ballarat, where the demand still remained high. In the 1960s, even the demand from individual farmers was shrinking. With their growing affluence came the quest for prestige. Many farmers chose up-market brands such as imported Wellstood, AGA and Esse. Others settled for stoves, which required less cleaning and maintenance. No longer were farmers' wives going to put up with the inconvenience of having to apply stove black to plates and doors. As a result stoves with enamelled surfaces became more common and popular. By the latter part of the 1960s even this market had shrunk as farms began to access bottled gas and electrical power.25 The company had a good run for its money, for between the introduction of the first IXL stove in 1893 and the centenary of the founding of the business, more than 200,000 stoves were sold.26 In the early 1980s there was a resurgence of demand for solid fuel stoves. While the directors' interest was limited, they nevertheless produced the IXL `Avalon' in 1980. This was followed in November 1987 by the `Glenwood' slow combustion stove, which was withdrawn from sale in 1990.27 This proved to be the company's last participation in the solid fuel stove market. In 1989 the directors launched the IXL `Fire Bed'. This was a device designed

THE END OF AN ERA

to improve the efficiency of open fireplaces. It consisted of a cast iron bed upon which the fire burnt. Six vertical tubes at the rear of the fire delivered heated air into the room under the fireplace lintel. While the system operated well, the pipes restricted the space that could be used for wood fuel. A later model of the `Fire Bed' was fitted with glass doors, which IXL Convector `Fire Bed'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. acted as a spark curtain. Despite some styling faults and limited sales outlets, the `Fire Bed' sold well for two to three years, after which the directors discontinued the line.

Challenges and solutions

After the downturn in sales of IXL stoves in the late 1960s, the directors began a search for another core product for the business. While Brian was responsible for manufacturing, John was responsible for product development. Later he went on to take responsibility for sales, research and development.28 John set about building up a small group of product engineers, led by Brian Bishop, who was assisted by Larry Richards and Richard Castellain. Brian Backwell took over research and development after John left. Such John Backwell. was the importance of research and product engineering Courtesy of Backwell IXL. to the company, that by 1988 the directors were spending some $200,000 annually on these functions ­ a considerable investment for a company the size of Backwell IXL. The company faced a dilemma - the processing technologies they were using in 1960 were essentially the same as those they had been using before World War II. Brian and John Backwell faced the daunting task of trying to make new products, such as gas and electric stoves and Brian Bishop. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. heaters, using obsolete technologies and equipment. For instance there were no presses in the sheet metal shop. Operators had to notch, fold and punch out, by hand, the steel plate that was used for the casing of solid fuel stoves. John believed that the company did not markedly increase its technical

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competence until it employed key people such as Ron Read, Brian Bishop, Karl Linnert and Tony Palamara in the 1960s and 70s.29 Read was an experienced enameller, who worked for Metters and was Manager of the enamelling division of Allied Ironfounders; Bishop was a product design engineer, who came from the Ford Motor Company; Linnert was a tooling expert from International Harvester Australia; and Palamara was an experienced manufacturing Tony Palamara. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. manager, who also came from International Harvester. Further John believed that it was better to employ people with technical expertise and let them get on with the job than to use sub-contractors, despite the higher cost of doing so.30 While, in retrospect, John wondered if he and Brian were too `hands on' as managers, others welcomed the direct contact with them as this allowed immediate feedback on the issues and priorities at hand.31

Cooking on an IXL `Marshall' slow combustion stove. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

Chapter 7

Diversify or perish

Moving to Wood Street

While Albert Leslie, the company's Managing Director, initially wanted to expand the Gheringhap Street site,1 he eventually questioned whether the company's best interests were being served by using this valuable property primarily for a foundry.2 The growth of Geelong in the immediate post-war period caused land values to increase in and around the central business district, including the Gheringhap Street site. The directors decided to move. When 11 acres of land in East Geelong was put up for sale by auction in 1953, Alan, Brian and John Backwell urged their father to purchase the allotment for the company. As Albert Leslie told Stuart Walsh of the Geelong News, his sons stated that he should `buy the land ­ or not to bother coming home.'3 Backwell's bid of £5,000 was successful. To offset some of the cost of the purchase he sold a house on the property for removal, and sold two acres on the southern boundary of the land to Esler and Belton.4 Until the factory land was occupied fully, Lyle Backwell, a noted Angus cattle breeder on the Bellarine Peninsula and a cousin of Albert Leslie, grazed some of his steers on the site. This was beneficial to all, Lyle fed his cattle and the company was able to rid itself of the need to keep the grass mown. The first building on the new property was a 40 by 60-foot shed that housed the production facilities for the `Dragon' room heater. This was the first product manufactured at the Wood Street site, commencing in March 1956.5 Later a building of the same dimensions was erected for the production of IXL stoves `71', `72', `73' and `101'. The IXL `127' eventually replaced the `101'. Manufacturing was divided between the two sites with castings being made at Gheringhap Street

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IXL `101' cooker. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `127' cooker. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

and sheet metal work being carried out at Wood Street. The company operated in both locations until 1971, when the move to Wood Street was completed under the supervision of Brian Backwell.6

Shifting the focus to heaters

The IXL `Dragon', a wood fired console heater designed by Brian Backwell in 1955, was the first new product produced by the company since the `Triumph' in 1928.7 The design of the `Dragon' was based on the competitors' products `Warmray' and Allied Ironfounders' `Forester'. This unit sold very well, and remained in the company's product range for some ten years. The initial model had a drop down glass door and the second model incorporated a side-hinged fire door and an ash pit door. The air inlet sealing was also improved over that of the initial model. Despite the success of the `Dragon', the heater suffered from occasional glass breakage. This was found to be due to a loss of temper, which came from IXL `Dragon' convection room heater. the glass overheating during use.8 Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

The move to gas appliances

The first venture into gas appliances was the IXL `Gas Griller', launched in 1948. This was a table-top griller, with a cast iron rail roll burner hotplate, based on a design by Metters. This griller was discontinued after two years because of technical and marketing problems. In 1956 the company imported a two-burner gas hot plate from Japan in an attempt to gain a share of this growing market. The company found that the unit did not sell particularly well, as it did not have a griller.9 The directors were aware of the growing competition from gas appliances and recognised IXL `Gas Pot'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. the need to have a presence in this emerging market. In particular they were influenced by John's report on the use of gas wall furnaces in California. As part of their market research, in the early 1970s, the directors consulted the marketing personnel at the Gas and Fuel Corporation and were advised that gas wall furnaces would not sell in Australia. Accordingly they dropped their plans to promote this type of room heater. The Backwell directors still remained determined to capture a share of the gas heater market, and so in 1980 they introduced a gas-fired potbelly heater, called IXL `Gas Pot'. The design of this unit was based on a Dutch heater, which lent itself to using the company's traditional skills in forming sheet metal and vitreous enamelling. After selling several thousand, the directors withdrew this product from the market.10 They again tried to gain a footing in the gas heater market in 1984, this time with a wall furnace with add-on cooling. The directors used this combination of functions as a means of differentiating the IXL product from the gas appliances being offered by the market leaders, Braemar and Vulcan. The IXL product was IXL Gas-Electric Air Conditioner. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. technically sound but was bulky and was not

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IXL `Finesse' Gas Wall Furnace. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

particularly well styled. This and the difficulties that the company experienced in trying to market the unit through gas utility outlets caused the directors to withdraw the units after a couple of years. Based on the principle that gas was best for heating and refrigerated air conditioning was best for cooling the directors developed IXL `901'. This was a through-the-wall console heater coupled to an air conditioning unit. It was a significant project for the company as it involved the development of a new heat exchanger, burners and heater fans as well as sourcing compressors and coils for the cooling function. Despite all this effort the market penetration was limited.11 The `Valor' was a flame-effect freestanding gas heater that Backwell IXL imported from the United Kingdom. This was another attempt by the directors to offer a differentiated product into the gas heater market. The unit experienced sooting problems because the types of gases used in Australia varied greatly, and so the unit was withdrawn from the market after a couple of shipments. In 1988 the directors made a final attempt at capturing a permanent share of

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

the gas appliance market with the gas wall furnace IXL `Finesse'. Despite the unit having a higher efficiency rating than wall furnaces offered by the competition, sales were limited. Over the years John and Brian experienced great difficulties in selling IXL appliances to the Gas and Fuel Corporation. Given that the Corporation was a major player in the promotion of gas appliances in Victoria, its general unwillingness to promote IXL appliances was a major reason why Backwell IXL did not succeed in the gas appliance market.12 It seemed that the Victorian gas appliance manufacturers and the Gas and Fuel Corporation together denied Backwell IXL a place in the market. In 1991 the directors withdrew from gas heating appliances altogether. The tooling for the `Gas Pot' and the `Gas Wall Furnace' was sold to Seeley International of South Australia.13

Setting up in-house enamelling

In the 1950s the directors responded to the competitive threat from enamelled stoves by introducing their own versions. Initially they used the enamelling services of A.P. E. M. of St Kilda,14 and later on, Sunshine Vitreous Enamellers and Victoria Foundry Enamelling Works of Geelong West. Victoria Enamelling coated its sheet steel signs at temperatures that were higher than those required for the Backwell castings. To overcome this problem, the company did Backwell's work on weekends, when they could lower the temperature without affecting normal production. By the late 1950s, however, they could not keep up with Backwell's demand. At this time Allied Ironfounders shut its operations at Clayton in Victoria, as its English-designed solid fuel stoves did not suit the Australian market. In line with their policy decision to carry out their own enamelling, the Backwell directors decided to purchase some of Allied's enamelling plant. As Brian Backwell recalled, `Procuring one of the [four] furnaces [on offer] was critical to the project.'15 The furnaces came up early in the auction, and Myttons immediately purchased two for use as heat treatment units. Brian was successful in purchasing the next one at a price that was within his budget, thus allowing him to buy spray booths, ball mills, firing bars and sundry lots. This gave the company the equipment base for operating an enamelling works. The only missing component was a pickling line. Brian remembered that after the auction he Ron Read. Courtesy of R. Read.

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`offered Ron Read a job to set up, and subsequently, run the new facility [at Wood Street]'.16 It was understood that John Backwell would ultimately join the business and as Brian recalled he `asked him to come as the project manager to build a new building and install the plant [for the enamelling works].'17 For most of his early working life Ron Read had been employed by Allied Ironfounders in England. After World War II Ron and his family migrated to Australia and shortly thereafter Metters offered Ron the job of managing its enamelling operations at its Footscray factory. He accepted the offer and worked with Metters for about seven years. In the mid-1950s Allied decided to set up as a stove manufacturer in Australia, and in turn offered Ron the position of managing its enamelling operations. At the time Allied's plant was the most modern in the world. Ron held that job for approximately three years until Allied's closure, after which he accepted the job offered by Brian. He worked for E. Backwell & Son. and Backwell IXL until his retirement in 1984. Ron became very involved in the Australian Enamelling Industry and was elected as the inaugural President of the Enamellers' Association. The transfer of equipment from Clayton to East Geelong was not without its problems. The box furnace caused Ron particular concern because of its weight and size. At the time the main road to Geelong was over the Werribee River bridge, which the Werribee Council engineers pointed out was unable to support the weight of the furnace. One solution to the problem was to send the furnace from Port Melbourne to Geelong by ship. In the end, Ron struck a deal with the Council engineers, that if E. Backwell & Son would pay the costs, they would shore up the bridge and disassemble the shoring once the furnace had been brought across.18 Thus the furnace was transported to Geelong. This was not the end of the matter, however. Once the furnace was delivered to Wood Street, Ron found that the existing power was insufficient to generate the 450 kilowatts of electricity needed to operate the furnace. After a few weeks the State Electricity Commission (SEC) installed a transformer to generate the required power. The box furnace was started on 11 March 1960.'19

In-house enamelling

The directors' original reason for becoming involved in enamelling was to better manage the production of enamelled stoves. However Ron Read soon realised that he could enamel the week's production of stoves in one day. Clearly, there was

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

Enamelling panels at the Wood Street factory. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

an urgent need to rectify this over-capacity situation. In addition the economies of operating the box furnace meant that it had to remain at working temperature seven days-a-week. It simply took too long, and was too costly, to heat up the furnace on an intermittent basis. John Moffat came up with the idea of bricking off half of the furnace, as a means of reducing the power to maintain the heat of the furnace. This modification was to have limited benefit, as the week's stove production was still able to be enamelled in one and a half days. John Backwell went to the USA to look for vitreous enamel applications. When he came back he reported that there were three opportunities: baths, water tanks and gas wall furnaces.20 As Ron Read had extensive experience in manufacturing enamelled baths from his employment with Allied Ironfounders in England, he encouraged the Backwell directors to manufacture their own enamelled pressed baths and basins. Despite searching around Australia and overseas, the directors were unable to identify a source of suitable pressed baths, but they did identify a suitable vanity basin, which was manufactured by Fisher and Ludlow in the United Kingdom. Before selling this product IXL enamelled basin in a vanity line in Australia the Backwell directors had to cabinet. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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ensure that it conformed to Australian standards. In the case of the rim of the basin the company had to fit a chrome-plated extruded brass section before it received approval. The company offered these basins in white, green, blue, grey and lavender.21 A particularly attractive feature of this basin was its shape, which differentiated it markedly from the basins being sold by the `3M' consortium of Metters, Mc Ilwraith and Myttons. The first basins were manufactured in January 1962, and enjoyed good sales through hardware and plumbing outlets and the `vanity cabinet' market.22 As Brian Backwell commented `This was probably our first non-stove success.'23 The directors continued with their quest to enter the pressed steel bath market. In Australia the enamelled cast iron bath market was dominated by Metters, McIlwraith and Laughtons. Later the `3 M' consortium developed the highly profitable deep draw one-piece sheet steel bath. This successful development attracted E. Backwell & Son and the entrepreneur, Lindsay Mee. Mee used an exmunitions hydraulic press to deep draw steel sheet, which he enamelled in his own works in Moorabbin. Such was his impact on the market that the `3 M' consortium bought him out for a significant sum of money. E. Backwell & Son found it difficult to source a supply of pressings, for unenamelled pressings from overseas were not to be had, and Myttons refused to make any available. The directors were left with only one line of action and that was to commission the manufacture of their own pressing tools and contract the stamping of sheet. Accordingly in 1963 Brian Backwell approached engineering company Malcolm Moore, which was given the business of producing the stamping tools. The Ford Motor Company in Geelong was contracted to stamp the baths.24 This work later went to Volkswagen, the only other company with presses of sufficient size to carry out this work. In all the directors invested £20,000 in this project ­ a significant amount for a company the size of E. Backwell & Son in the early 1960s. Like so many early attempts to bring a new product to fruition, the tool trials and press runs proved to be full of difficulties. As one example, Brian Backwell commented on the nerve-racking and costly experience of forming Lysaght steel, which was appropriate for enamelling, but definitely not suitable for deep drawing.25 During the trial it was not uncommon for the sheet to split from end to end. Only 250 baths were produced from 500 sheets, and at £5 per sheet, the trial production proved to be an expensive undertaking.26 Once Myttons realised that the Backwell directors were serious contenders for a share of the market, it withdrew from the `3 M' consortium and supplied the

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

IXL enamelled bath and basin. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Backwell company with five-foot and five-foot six-inch baths, shower floors and hand basins. These baths were produced in the same colour range as the vanity basins.27 At that time Myttons' action let Craig Seely, another entrepreneur, into the market and a price war ensued. In addition to this aggressive competition, the Backwell company found it difficult to eliminate dust and scale contamination in the enamelling process. Despite these problems the company remained in the market for a number of years. In the end, the corporate strength of the major suppliers proved to be too great and the directors withdrew from the bath market in favour of entering the glass-lined hot water business. This was not the company's only attempt to produce a line of enamelled products under the IXL brand name. In 1985 the directors purchased a double action press and tooling for vitreous enamelled ovenware from Modern Maid

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and Staff, and distributed this product through Disney, Modern Maid's former agent. Later the company sold directly to K Mart. The directors found that the cost structure for the cookware was higher than expected and this, and the import competition, limited the company's market penetration.

Contract enamelling

The company was heavily involved in contract enamelling as well. In the mid1970s John and Brian Backwell and Ron Read approached representatives of Braemar with the proposition that the two companies join forces to manufacture glass-lined hot water heaters. At the time Braemar was making only low-pressure copper hot water units. The Backwell proposition of using glass-lined mild steel for mains pressure units was adopted by Braemar. As part of the deal E. Backwell & Son supplied Braemar with enamelling services and made heat exchangers, while Braemar retained the sheet metal fabrication. At the start Backwell supplied Braemar with 60-litre tanks at a rate of 20 per day. Finally this increased to 100 per day. At the time McColl's Transport of Geelong delivered an average of two semi-trailer loads of rolled cylinders each working day. In addition to supplying 60-litre tanks, Braemar asked Backwell to supply 110-litre tanks.28 This posed a problem, as these tanks were six-foot high and two-foot six-inches across and could not be accommodated in the box furnace. To rectify the problem Ron and Les Cocking worked through the Christmas holidays to enlarge the furnace. In the end the furnace could fire eight to ten tanks at a time. Brian Backwell commented, that Braemar, `turned it [the glass-lined hot water heater] into one of the most successful and profitable domestic appliance in Australian [gas appliance] history.'29 As Ron recalled it was profitable business for Backwells, as well. After eight years the arrangement came to an end when Braemar decided to produce its own lined tanks.30 Another profitable contract job for Backwell IXL was supplying enamelled plates to the SEC for use in its electricity power plant heat exchangers at Yallourn, in Victoria. These exchangers delivered warm air to the plant's coal burning furnaces. At the time the SEC was using stainless steel plates in the exchangers because of the sulphur-rich atmosphere in which they had to operate. It so happened that Ron Read was developing a sulphur-resistant enamel which would allow mild steel to be used under such severe conditions. As a result Backwell IXL captured the SEC plate business of 2,000 per day. This new demand meant that the directors had to purchase another enamelling furnace and employ additional staff. Subsequently

DIVERSIFY OR PERISH

Backwell IXL supplied an independent company with enamelled plates for similar applications in China and Spain. The box furnace suffered from the limitations of batch production and a tendency for items at the end of the 20-foot oven to be fired to a greater extent than items nearer the door. Continuous furnaces did not suffer these limitations. However they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Ron was mindful of Brian's comment that ` You can do what you like here [at the Wood Street enamelling plant] Ron, as long as you don't spend any money.'31 Ron was aware of a continuous enamelling plant that was coming onto the market in South Australia and, with Brian's words ringing in his ears, approached the owner of the plant.32 When asked to name his price Ron offered $10,000, which was accepted.33 He could not believe his luck. As a result of this purchase the directors had to extend the building housing the enamelling works. In the early 1970s the Victorian Government decided to build an underground railway under the central business district of Melbourne. As part of this massive undertaking the government architects decided to use vitreous enamel panels in the underground stations, the concourses and the moving stairways. After a year of negotiations, Ron secured the contracts for the Parliament and Flagstaff stations. This was one of the largest government contracts gained by a Geelongbased company at the time, with manufacture, supply and fitting of the panels taking five years. Parliament station was opened on 22 January 1983 and Flagstaff on 27 May 1985.34 The enamelling business at Backwell IXL had come a long way since the days when one week's stove manufacture could be enamelled in a day. In fact at its zenith the enamelling works employed a full-time chemist and 50 employees, who were working two shifts. At one stage the volume of new business was such that it threatened the company's cash flow, which necessitated a tightening of the company's receivables policy.35 Ron and his team were noted for their innovative approach to product and process development. Apart from the development of sulphur-resistant enamel, Ron perfected a flow coating system for enamelling panels, which replaced spray coating. In addition he converted the operation of the box furnace into a type of a continuous system, by using a four-station loading arrangement, with rotating retracting forks. Because of the specialised nature of the business and the difficulties that the company had in replacing Ron Read after his retirement, the directors decided to cease enamelling operations. The works were closed in 1994.36

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Chapter 8

Electric heating becomes the mainstay

The worsening economy

In 1973 the money supply in Australia grew rapidly and by September its growth had exceeded an annual rate of 25 per cent. In an attempt to curb the large surplus in the balance-of-payments ­ the source of the monetary growth ­ the Government instituted stricter controls over capital inflows, reduced the tariffs on imports and initiated a series of revaluations of the exchange rate. Despite the need for a broad front of corrective measures, the Commonwealth Government delayed taking action on reducing domestic liquidity, as this would have caused interest rates to rise. By September 1973, however, the external measures were proving to be ineffective and so the Government was forced to take further action on interest rates. It kept the credit squeeze in place for 12 months.1 By mid-1974, the money supply proved to be incapable of financing the inflated value of production outputs. Short-term borrowing rates rose dramatically by June, and financial institutions were unable to provide loans for housing and construction projects. Facing cash flow difficulties, manufacturers began to fill orders from stock, and then cut their normal stock levels. This resulted in an ongoing reduction in the output of production. There was a slowing of worldwide economies in 1974. Dr. Barry Hughes argued that this did not contribute greatly to the rise in unemployment in Australia - the loss of international competitiveness did. This probably affected regional centers such as Geelong the most.2 The loss of competitiveness came about through the escalation of domestic wages, due to inflation; the Commonwealth Government's decisions, on 18 July 1973, to cut import tariffs by 25 per cent across-the-board;

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and the revaluation of the monetary exchange rate on three separate occasions.3 In terms of employment, these decisions adversely affected much of Australia's trade exposed labour-intensive manufacturing industries, particularly those in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle, Wollongong, Albury-Wodonga and Geelong.4 The main impact of inflation was the fear it engendered. People generally associated inflation with an inevitable credit squeeze. This, in turn, was associated with loss of employment. The most significant aspect of this fear was the reduction in consumer confidence. Households in the 1960s spent, on average, 90 per cent of their disposable incomes on goods and services. In the last quarter of 1974, they spent only 80.8 per cent. Despite the fact that the inflation rate exceeded the savings rate of interest, people still sought the apparent safety of savings institutions for their unspent disposable income.5 This affected the consumption of a range of products including domestic appliances. A significant factor was the growing gap between the growth in real wages (including on-costs) and productivity (output-per-worker). Brian Backwell was an advocate of improving manufacturing productivity. However he encountered opposition from union representatives when the matter was discussed.6 In 1974 the real cost of employing people in Australia began to exceed the value of their production by a significant margin.7 Accordingly, businesses found that it was more profitable not to employ workers, unless it was absolutely necessary to do so. As Hughes argued `people had priced themselves out of the market'.8 At the time, the countervailing argument came from the Australia Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The ACTU argued that higher real wages led to a boost to household expenditures. This translated itself into an increase in production with a resultant lowering of unemployment. On balance, it would appear that the real wage overhang argument had more weight, at least for the period of 1974/75. Brian Backwell noted ironically that the unions now support the concept of productivity as a basis for negotiations.9 A change of government in December 1975 failed to turn the economy around and by 1983 inflation and unemployment had reached double-digit figures. Under the guidance of a new Commonwealth Government the economy revived and by 1986 the nation was experiencing very high rates of growth by the standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). By the early 1990s, however, the nation and Geelong were in the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. As the Geelong Chamber of Commerce pointed out at the time, many Geelong businesses experienced a significant drop in profits, and in some cases closure. Community morale had plummeted with the

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collapse of Pyramid, Geelong and Countrywide building societies in 1990 and the loss of nearly one-third of Geelong's automotive workforce over 1990/91. In June 1991 nearly 16 per cent of the Geelong region's labour force was unemployed. It would be nearly half a decade before the region and the nation as a whole returned to prosperity.

Moving into electric appliances

In 1958, the directors decided to produce a gas stove, but found that it was not possible to secure a reliable supply of gas burners. In a demonstration of typical Backwell persistence and innovation, John Backwell changed the project to one of producing an electric stove, as in this case switches and elements were readily available.10 Thus the IXL upright electrical cooker `Corio' was born. Sales of this cooker were made mainly through country hardware stores, as the company did not have strong connections with electrical retailers in metropolitan areas. This limited the market penetration of the `Corio.'11 In 1963, the company incorporated a heater in the unit that would switch on automatically at a time that allowed the kitchen to be warmed first thing in the morning. This feature was called `The Warm Morning'. The `Corio' was not without its problems. The company's limited steel pressing capability meant that the design had to be based around small parts and a 50 tonne hydraulic press. This required the parts to be welded together, a

IXL `Corio' electric cooker. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `Vision' electric cooker. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Bob Chapman inspecting IXL `Corio' electric cookers and `Kardinia' solid fuel stove heaters on the assembly line.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

procedure that was not only difficult, but costly. The market feedback over the next few years resulted in the splash back doors being redesigned, but this was not successful. Overall, sales were small and component cost made the `Corio' uncompetitive.12 To improve the styling, John employed an industrial designer, Ron Rosenfeld and together they produced the `Vision' stove. This model was not successful either due to high component costs and continued failure of the heating coil elements. In an attempt to increase the consumption of electricity in the off-peak period, the SEC introduced off-peak heating appliances in 1968. This offered the company the opportunity to sell into a new market and accordingly, the directors signed a licence arrangement with Unidare in Ireland to apply its technology to the IXL `Midi Banks' and `Heat Banks' ranges.13 These were designed by John Backwell, using Unidare's core bricks and elements. The new heating products captured a significant share of the off-peak heating market. This success was followed up by introducing the IXL `Visionaire', which used a cast iron core produced in the Backwell foundry. The SEC specifications called for the cores to operate at temperatures as high as 600 degrees centigrade. At this temperature the cores could expand to twice their original size and so ran the risk of being dislodged

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from their casings.14 In addition, the temperature was controlled by a thermostat located outside the insulation. This thermostat had an inferential multiple of X8. It turned out that all heat banks of this type experienced core temperature control problems, and although the IXL products were considered to be better than those of the competition, the directors decided to withdraw expeditiously from the market, with a significant loss of turnover.15 In the 1960s and 1970s home heating was undergoing change in Australia. The traditional open fireplace was being closed in by inset heaters such as `Wonderheat' and fireboxes such as `Warmray'. But the dominant product in the home heating market was the oil-fired `Vulcan' heater. The cost of operating the Vulcan heater was high, despite the relatively low cost of oil in the 1960s. As the heater was not thermostatically controlled and was slow to heat up, it was generally left on idle when not in use and therefore ended up being expensive to run. It also had high servicing costs. The directors reasoned that there was a place in the home heating market for an electric fan heater that was controlled by an efficient thermostat and had a low installation cost. In this case John Backwell contacted Thermador Incorporated of Los Angeles, which manufactured top-end electric cooking equipment and electric fan heaters.16 The IXL `Hotline Classic' was introduced in 1975. The Backwell design placed the Thermador fan element behind a large front panel, which could be fitted into existing fireplaces or recessed into walls. The self-cleaning fan and durable element assembly were operational features of the

IXL `Sovereign' space heater. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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product, which enjoyed good sales, especially where electricity costs were low, such as the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. Based on the success of the IXL `Hotline Classic' the company developed variations such as wall furnaces and radiant panels with flicker lights. The `Classic' also inspired the development of the company's first portable electric heater, the IXL `Sovereign'. This was a movable convection heater with a radiant glass panel, mounted on rollers. In a move to enter a different segment of the market, the directors introduced `Superior Fireplaces' from the USA in 1981. These were prefabricated steel fireplaces with a simulated fire function. They were used as a decorative feature in centrally heated houses. The trial marketing of this product was not successful as the Australian market expected the unit to heat!17

A. L. Backwell retires

In December 1975 Albert Leslie Backwell formally retired from the position of Chairman of the Board of Backwell IXL. The positions of Chairman and Managing Director were filled by Brian Backwell. Albert Leslie's three sons Alan, Brian and John became the majority shareholders. On 20 May 1977 the company name was changed to Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. to identify the name Backwell with the mark IXL. Albert Leslie was not only a significant figure within the Albert Leslie Backwell, company but was a leader in Geelong's business and civic elected Mayor of Geelong on three occasions affairs. He held directorships in the Polar Milk Company, between 1956 and 1959. Blakiston and Shortell, the Geelong Permanent Building Courtesy of Backwell IXL. Society and the Geelong Gas Company. He was also a director of the Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Woollen Mill, where he worked closely with his old friend Albert Schofield. He credited Schofield with being highly regarded throughout Australia as an authority on the manufacture of woollen textiles. In 1941 Albert Leslie was elected as the Mill's Chairman and was made a Justice of the Peace. He was also a long-standing member of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and was President in 1962. Legacy, which he joined in 1925, was of particular interest to him. He became Club President in 1931. Other interests were the Corio Club, the Geelong Club, the Returned & Services League, Freemasonry, and the Geelong Businessmen's Club, of which he was a foundation member and its inaugural president in 1960. His major hobby was golf. In the area of civic affairs he was

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elected to the Geelong City Council in 1937. He was elected Mayor on three separate occasions during the period 1956 to 1959 and retired from council in 1960. During his term of office as a councillor he was a relentless advocate for the amalgamation of councils in greater Geelong. He was Chairman of the Amalgamation Committee, which was active during the 1960s. In 1960 his service to the community of Geelong was recognized with an Order of the British Empire. Albert Leslie Backwell died on 10 April 1983.18

The Lennox agreement

The Backwell directors believed that Australians would sooner or later embrace central heating and air conditioning in domestic homes, and this belief was the impetus for the company's next major diversification. Despite the economic difficulties facing the nation and businesses-at-large, in 1975, the directors entered into a joint venture agreement with Lennox Industries, the third largest supplier of air conditioning and central heating products in the USA. The joint venture company was called Lennox IXL Pty. Ltd. It was 50 per cent owned by Backwell IXL and 50 per cent by Lennox Industries. The new company was involved in the assembly and warehousing of residential and commercial air conditioners made from imported and locally manufactured items. Backwell IXL made a horizontal gas warm air furnace for Lennox IXL, as well as other parts. The company occupied a separate warehouse on the Wood Street factory site and leased part of the Backwell IXL office block. Under the agreement the company had access to the Backwell electronic data processing system. As part of this venture a dealer-installer network was set up, and the joint venture partners established a niche market in Australia with imported horizontal ceiling mounted units. However the market favoured the use of outdoor units, which had been made popular by Brivis. With time the Backwell directors found that the transfer price negotiated by Lennox was too high and this, along with the shortcomings of the ceiling mounted units, caused them to doubt the wisdom of the joint venture. Nevertheless Lennox IXL established a place in the commercial rooftop market. As a result the joint venture partners enjoyed good business with K Mart supermarkets. Despite an annual turnover of $10 to 12 million, profits for Backwell IXL were low. Finally, Lennox bought out its partner on 25 May 1991 allowing the directors to retrieve most of the company's investment of $300,000.19 The directors also explored other segments of the air conditioner market

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and, in 1979, imported portable pedestal and window mounted refrigerated air conditioning units from Riello of Italy. They found the window mounted market very competitive and demand varied depending on the severity of summer conditions. As a result the product always held the potential for stock carry-over and was dropped after a few shipments.

Selling locally and interstate

In the 1960s two salesmen were responsible for servicing complaints about IXL stoves sold in Victoria. These complaints were generally the result of faulty installation. Not only was servicing customers costly, but salesmen were diverted from their prime role of selling product. John Backwell solved this problem in two ways. First he appointed Jim McCutcheon to be the person responsible solely for servicing complaints; and second he placed an increased emphasis on the quality of product, packaging Jim McCutcheon. and delivery. Despite the fact that these solutions resulted in Courtesy of Backwell IXL. an increase in price of the product, he insisted that the product should be as good as the company could make it. His philosophy was `If it's not a good quality product, you're doomed before you start.'20 Promoting IXL appliances to interstate customers was also John's responsibility. He hired a consultant, who was formerly with Vulcan Industries, to advise on the best strategies to use in rural and regional Australia. The consultant advised the company to set up distributors throughout the country, in much the same way that Vulcan had done. Among other things, John's task was to provide these distributors with product knowledge of IXL appliances. A typical trip involved loading the latest IXL appliance on a plane in Melbourne, travelling to an interstate location and making a product presentation to the distributor's salesmen in a hotel room. While he was on location he would visit retailers with the distributor to promote IXL appliances and answer any questions. Once John returned to Wood Street, he would liaise with the product designers and quality control staff on the feedback that he had gained from the retailers and distributors.21 This schedule of travelling interstate every three to four weeks took its toll, and John finally hired Don Tanner as Sales Manager. The directors concluded that to increase sales the company needed to get closer to the customer, and the best way to achieve this was to increase dealer-

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installer support. In 1985, they embarked on a trial to determine the feasibility of establishing a chain of franchised dealer-installers. As part of this trial, the directors established a retail outlet called `Energy World' in Ringwood, a bustling new eastern suburb of Melbourne, where they promoted and distributed IXL and Lennox products and solid fuel heaters. After six months it became obvious that the proposition was not working and so they terminated the trial.22 By 1988 the company was marketing its appliances in all States of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Some sales were achieved in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Overall however, 47 per cent of appliance sales were made in Victoria mainly through the State Electricity Commission, electrical wholesalers, discount stores and the Gas and Fuel Corporation. In total the company maintained about 800 retailer accounts. Because the company adopted a niche market strategy the directors operated with a modest annual advertising budget of some $140,000.

Introducing the `Tastic' range

In the 1970s Australian bathrooms were rarely heated. Those that were, generally relied on a wall-mounted strip heater. The same situation applied to ventilation, where eight-inch ceiling fans were sometimes used. The Backwells' interest in this area of domestic heating was kindled initially by John's brother-in-law who had rigged up an infrared lamp in his bathroom as a means of generating warmth in this normally cold room. While this heater had no exhaust fan, and bore little resemblance to the future `Tastic' products, it triggered an idea in the minds of John and Brian.23 They went separately to the USA and found that infrared lamps were being used as bathroom heaters.24 Armed with this market research, they decided to produce a bathroom appliance that combined heating with fan ventilation. John Backwell and Brian Bishop did the design and development work. This new appliance had four infrared globes in front of an eight-inch ceiling fan. The development cost was some $25,000. The first working model was installed and tested in John's home, 33 years ago. On 6 July 1977 the design for the `Tastic' appliance was granted under the Designs Act (No.72245). The `Tastic' appliance was produced the same year.25 Initially the design used standard frosted bulbs, however it was found that by altering the focus and using clear glass the performance of the bulbs could be improved significantly. In 1980 John Backwell developed the `Vent-a-light', based on the `Tastic' body. It was designed specifically for use in toilets. The unit was fitted with a timer that activated a light and fan in the ceiling. Soon after its launch it became

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IXL `Tastic' original. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

obvious that the market considered the unit to be too expensive at $100 and so sales were limited.26 From the start annual sales of the `Tastic' appliance were slow but steady, reaching 15,000 units in 1985. The market for `Tastic' came largely from regional cities because these were the traditional market places for IXL products. John was cautious about undertaking a more aggressive marketing programme because he was concerned that the Backwell IXL distribution systems could not cope with a sudden influx of orders for the `Tastic' product. This subsequently proved not to be the case.27 As is the experience with successful products, they are copied by rivals. The first copy, `Pure Heat', closely followed the design of the IXL `Tastic', but added the feature of a single central light globe, which allowed the `Pure Heat' unit to have a separate lighting function. The Backwell designers quickly responded to this challenge by including a central globe into the IXL unit. At the same time they cut costs and improved the appearance of the fascia. With improved marketing, including a national television advertising campaign in 1986, sales of the new look IXL `Tastic' took off.28 In 1993 the company sold 130,000 units IXL `Tastic Premier'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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with a turnover of around $20 million. While, in general, there was little competition in the early 1990s, Zaps of Brisbane became a challenge, particularly when Gerrard Industries took over its distribution. When Kambrook introduced a two-light globe unit, the directors again IXL `Easy Duct Tastic'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. responded with IXL `Companion', and in 1995 the IXL `Triumph', which, among other features, had a plastic body. In 1991, a new body structure was created for the IXL models `Nouvelle', `Delux', `Silhouette' and `Sensation'. This proliferation of models was the directors' way of raising the height of entry barriers for would-be competitors. Sourcing of components, such as globes, was a critical consideration in the production of the `Tastic' range of products. For instance Japanese and Hungarian globes were superior in durability, focus and water resistance to Korean makes. The IXL `Tastic' range has been a mainstay of the company's business since 1985 and a major contributor to the company's profitability over the period.29 This success was reflected in the company being named the overall winner of the Geelong Business magazine's `Geelong Business Excellence Award' for 1987.30 The "Tastic' product is an example of the high-tech innovation for which Backwell IXL has become noted. For instance, the airflow generated by the IXL `Tastic' is significantly greater than that generated by its competitors. This is due to the aerodynamic flow characteristics designed into the fan and housing. In 1998 the IXL `Easy Duct Tastic' was launched onto the world market. The company developed the new `Tastic' model in response to the trend in building codes in parts of Australia, the USA and the United Kingdom that required exhaust fumes to be ducted out of the house by a blower fan. The company's initial plan was to position a blower on the side of an existing `Tastic' body, but this was found to be difficult. After an expenditure of some hundreds of thousands of dollars the company produced a fully tooled plastic bodied ducted IXL `Tastic'. This new product received an international award from Montell Australia for good design with plastics.31 One of the important features of the `Tastic' product is its quality. In general, the quality standards employed by Ford and Toyota have been used by the company's contract pressings division in the manufacture of the `Tastic' range. In addition, the product line's comprehensive test rig has been responsible for reducing service calls and customer complaints to virtually zero. This system was

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designed by Ross McDonald, Backwell's Business Development and Engineering Manager; Ron Maher, Backwell's Maintenance Engineer; and the company's contract electrician, Glen Sharrock of Gordon McKay Pty. Ltd. In essence, the rig accounts for and tests each component, even down to checking that the fan is installed the right way up and that it works.32

Other electrical products

Another successful product was the IXL `Heated Towel Rail' introduced in 1995. This range of wall-mounted and free-standing electric towel rails was troublefree in the market and consistently contributed around $500,000 to the company's annual turnover. This product was sourced from New Zealand.33 The company's first attempt to produce a portable fan heater was the IXL `411', launched in 1988. This unit used a propeller fan housed in a metal case. The choice of a propeller fan avoided the problem of dust and lint build up - a problem that plagued cross-flow blowers. The IXL `411' proved to be a rugged, if expensive heater. It remained in the market for three or four years. The directors' experience with IXL `411' caused them to expand their presence in the portable heater market. This was an aggressive move given that in the early 1990s Australia was in the grip of the worst recession in 60 years. Instead of their usual practice of carrying out product development in-house, in 1993, the directors acquired Haan, a small heater manufacturer. This gave Backwell IXL a platform for an immediate expansion into the portable heater market. In 1996, after an initial success with the Haan heaters, the directors decided to replace the existing angular exterior with an in-house designed facade. Although this proved to be an expensive operation, the appearance of the heater was enhanced significantly. The directors' next venture into the portable heater market was the IXL `Nipper', in 1998. This unit was a small heater with an Italian fan and element assembly. By the late 1990s the market for portable heaters was very competitive and the high engineering and tooling costs to produce this unit made profit margins low. 34 The company's attempt to sell halogen lamp portable electric heaters in 1996 was beset IXL `Heated Towel Rail'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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with quality problems with lamps sourced from Korea and Taiwan.35 As a result the directors withdrew the heaters from the market. In 1997 the company introduced IXL `Radiant'. Unlike all other IXL heaters, which were free convectors or fan powered, the IXL `Radiant' was a two bar 2,400 watt radiant, which used a 96 Haan body and end caps. The directors chose to enter the heater market at a time when Vulcan temporarily withdrew its `Conray' heater. In 1999 changes in the Australian approval codes for heaters required design modifications in this unit. Overall the IXL `Radiant' sold well but yielded only a small profit margin.

IXL `Nipper' fan-boosted heater.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

XL `411' heater. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `Radiant' heater. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

DIVERSIFYING PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES

Chapter 9

Diversifying products and processes

Metal fabrication

Robinhood had shown that its copy of American stud-recessed ironing board cupboards could be successful in Australia. This stimulated the Backwell directors to produce their own version based on the body of the IXL gas wall furnace. In 1990 they produced an inset cupboard that housed an existing ironing board. The front was produced as a wood panel, which could be painted the same colour as the wall. The product was withdrawn after some two years because of persistent problems of damage during transit.1 As part of their programme of diversification the Backwell directors tooled up to make waste bins for Wastemaster Australia. These products were based on 1,100 litre capacity wheeled galvanized industrial waste bins and street litter bins made by Otto Germany. When Wastemaster went out of business, the Backwell company took over the tooling in 1985 and distributed through Wastemaster's former agent, who had strong links to local government. While the 1,100 litre bins had a relatively short market life the street bins proved to be more resilient. In the end, the high cost of production, problems with galvanizing, sourcing suitable castor wheels and inadequate distribution, made the 1,100 litre less competitive than their lowercost imported counterparts.

IXL `Ironing Cupboard'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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`Street Litter bin'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

A new foundry technology

From 1902, when Edwin Walter and Albert Ernest Backwell set up the company's first foundry, casting operations have been a fundamental part of the Backwell's manufacturing business. Over the years the production technology changed from Cupola furnaces to electric induction furnaces. When the foundry operations were transferred from Gheringhap Street to Wood Street, Brian appointed Bob Beecroft as Plant Engineer to design the new facility. Beecroft stayed on to become foundry manager assisted by long-standing employee Len Meadows. In July 1992, the company's foundry and its research and development functions were amalgamated into IXL Industries.2 In the same year, the directors took the significant step of introducing the evaporative (or lost) foam method of metal casting. The lost foam method is widely used overseas, particularly in the automotive industry with metals such as gray and ductile iron, aluminium alloys and copperbased casting alloys. In the process partially expanded polystyrene beads are fully expanded and fused by steam heating in a mould the shape of the component to be produced. In the case of complicated shapes, mouldings are prepared in sections. After cooling in the mould, the mouldings are aged and glued together. Gates for the metal pour are then attached. Next the investment is covered with a ceramic coating to give structural integrity to the casting during the pour. Once dry the investment is placed in a flask and backed up with moulding sand, which is compacted by vibration. The metal is then poured into the mould, burning the foam polystrene and leaving the metal casting as an exact replica of the investment. The lost foam process has the advantages of reproducing finished components

DIVERSIFYING PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES

within a tolerance of around one-third of a millimetre. Because the process does not involve a two-or-more part mould, the casting is easily cleaned, as it does not have mould parting-lines, which in conventional moulding need to be ground off.3 In all the method promised measurable cost savings and high quality production. The lost foam process was introduced to Backwell IXL by Manufacturing Manager, Don Carter, who had joined the company in January 1989 from General Motors Holden. The company first employed the process in April 1992, to make gas barbeque burners for Gas Australia. Other products included brake backing plates for PBR Brakes, for use in USA and Korean automotive markets; and exhaust manifolds for the Ford Motor Company.4 Despite considerable development expenditure and time, the good will of directors and the work of Carter and his staff, the promised advantages of the process were never realised. As a consequence the directors closed the lost foam operation in 1999.5 In practice the process proved to be more difficult than first envisaged. The close tolerances of castings were generally not achieved, meaning that parts had to be machined. This negated one of the cost advantages of the process. Because IXL Industries continued to operate the conventional foundry in parallel with the lost foam process there was a need for more moulders, and this led to additional labour costs. The moulders also experienced difficulties with high carbon cast irons (carbon content above 3.7 per cent), which could not tolerate the carbon gases formed when the foam investment was burnt by the molten metal. Most of these gases escape through the ceramic coating into the compacted sand, but in the case of the high carbon cast irons the carbon that could not be absorbed by the casting, or failed to escape, was deposited on the surface of the casting. Low carbon steels and aluminium do not have this limitation.6 In January 1999 IXL Industries was restructured into IXL Metal Castings with David Sykes as Manager. David was appointed by the directors to develop a strategic focus for the foundry and to place the operation on a profitable footing for the short and long term.

Improving pressings productivity

In the late 1970s the stamped components of IXL heaters and the `Tastic' range were produced in the company's press, paint and the enamelling shops. As sales demand increased, it became obvious that the manufacturing system was inadequate. This particularly affected the `Tastic' range. Housings that were scheduled for processing were stored in lots of 50 in crates measuring 1.2 metres

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in length, 1.2 metres in width and 1.2 metre in height. At peak production times it was not unusual for large numbers of housings to be waiting to be pressed and painted before being transferred to the assembly area. Apart from the backlog problem, the space taken up by the crates of housings waiting for the next stage of processing was considerable and costly. Brian Backwell, Karl Linnert and the tool room team solved the problem by redesigning the Karl Linnert. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. `Tastic' body so that it could be made from flat pre-painted `Colourbond' steel sheet. This decision eliminated the painting process. Further, as the body was processed from flat sheet, it meant that the housings could be stored in lots of 500 per box. This eliminated the storage problem and freed up valuable factory space.7 With the wider use of plastics there was a decreased requirement for metal pressings. This, and the seasonal demand for IXL heaters, meant that the capacity of the press shop was underutilised. Brian, John and Alan Backwell explored opportunities for contract work that would use the company's pressing equipment and expertise. Karl Linnert, who set up the press shop, was responsible for producing International Harvester fuel tanks and components for the Ford Motor Company Truck Division. The contract work with Ford was initially for low volume parts; later it involved convertible roof components for the Ford `Capri' sports car through Rockwell International in Preston, Victoria. Ford's Product Engineering Department needed a reliable manufacturer to produce advanced engineering panels for their prototypes of the new model `Falcon' and `Fairlane'. Because Backwell IXL had the engineering skills, people experienced in automotive work, suitable equipment and a versatile foundry, the company gained the contract. While volumes were modest, the high degree of specialisation meant that a premium could be charged. Despite the quality of the product from Backwell IXL, the company was not able to gain any of Ford's high volume production work, because Ford operated its own highly automated pressing plant in Geelong.

A new market emerges

While the door to production pressings was closed at Ford, a door opened at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. Such was the demand for the `Corona' and `Corolla' in the late 1980s that Toyota ran out of capacity at its press shop in

DIVERSIFYING PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES

The Backwell IXL tool room. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Port Melbourne. In response to this demand, Toyota decided to expand its press shop and, as an interim measure, outsourced its requirements for three months. Backwell IXL gained a contract with Toyota for pressings based on tooling that was compatible with Backwell's presses. This contract was ultimately extended to six months. Having obtained this business, the Backwell press shop and tool room teams were determined to convince Toyota that Backwell IXL was a contender for ongoing contract work. The Backwell press shop believed that the Toyota pressing tools could be modified in a way that would improve productivity significantly. At that stage Toyota was using separate sheets for each pressing. The press shop team reasoned that if the tools could be modified to accept a continuous feed of steel sheet in lengths of up to 2.4 metres, and the subsequent parts nested, then less steel would be required and cycle rates would be increased. In practice, not only did cycle rates improve, but up to 30 per cent of sheet steel was saved. This demonstrated to Toyota that Backwell IXL was more than capable of being an innovative and reliable supplier, and so began a mutually beneficial relationship that has continued through to this day.8 This was the beginning of the current Backwell IXL strategy for the stamping business: to be the provider of firstorder stampings to the car manufacturers, delivering on time with high quality at competitive prices.

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Plan view of the Wood Street factory in 1977. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Fire tests the company

During the night of Sunday 12 April 1998 a fire broke out in the dispatch area of the press shop at the Wood Street factory complex. The fire destroyed the dispatch and manager's offices, the ablutions block and three bays of the press shop. Such was the extent of the fire, that 50 fire fighters and 10 tankers from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) were used to control the blaze.9 The quick response of the CFA confined the fire to the centre of the factory complex. Repairs were carried out between October 1998 and April 1999 at a cost of approximately $1 million. Through the diligent work of the press shop team there was no disruption in supplying customers with their orders during this period. The fire caused a number of positive changes to take place. The old office

Scene after the fire. Courtesy of Geelong Advertiser. Photo: Phillip Stubbs.

DIVERSIFYING PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES

block situated at the centre of the factory complex was removed and replaced by modern offices with improved amenities. The new office block was located on the north east side of the complex. This allowed the production area to be expanded, thereby providing increased efficiencies in the overall factory operations.

Improvement through a learning culture

As Ross McDonald observed, Backwell IXL has always had a learning culture, and through the company's association with Toyota and Ford the contract pressings' business has learnt and adopted many of the practices common to today's modern automotive industry.10 These procedures and processes were often applied to other business divisions within Backwell IXL. As a case in point, Backwell IXL uses world's best practices, such as Justin-Time production control, to ensure that the company Ross McDonald. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. remains competitive in delivery, cost and quality. The company is a member of the Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers (FAPM), which is made up of the suppliers to the Australia Automotive Industry. FAPM developed a benchmarking system for the manufacture and supply of automotive components. Based on this system, Backwell IXL developed a selfquestioning and monitoring programme that allowed the company to measure itself against other Australian automotive suppliers, as well as those in India, Japan, South Africa, Thailand and the USA. Backwell found that its contracts pressing business compared well with the best in the world in aspects such as project control, people skills, customer support, quality and delivery performance.11 However when it came to aspects such as the use of high technology machines the company did not score as highly. In Australia there was, and still is, a general reluctance to invest multi-millions of dollars in high technology machines, when the future of the automotive industry remains in doubt. This has been exacerbated by a regime of low tariffs and a general lack of commitment by governments-of-the-day to acknowledge that manufacturing is essential to industrial skills development, employment and the growth of Australia's gross domestic product. From the perspective of Backwell IXL, the company has accepted the Commonwealth Government's challenge to the Australian Manufacturing Industry to be world competitive, by using innovation, productivity improvement, Just-in-Time production control, global sourcing and customer service.

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Chapter 10

A change in corporate direction

The formation of a new board

In mid-1997 Brian and Alan Backwell expanded the board of directors and formalised board proceedings. Immediately prior to this time board meetings were held between Brian and Alan as directors, David Isaac, the Financial Controller, Adam Charleston, General Manager IXL Appliances and Contracts, and Don Carter, General Manager IXL Industries (later known as IXL Metal Castings). Proceedings were generally informal. 1 Brian and Alan were conscious of the need to put into place a structure that would ensure that Backwell IXL continued after they had withdrawn from the business. They also took the opportunity to involve the family in the new structure. The shareholders sought wide-ranging advice on the matter, including Robin Pennell of Moore Stephens, (formerly Hughes, Fincher and Rodda), a longtime advisor to the Backwell family. The broadening of corporate responsibility had been evolving since the directors appointed Andrew Lawson to the position of General Manager in December 1990. Lawson had previously worked for Huyck Australia, Containers Limited and the Farrow Group of Building Societies. He left the company in September 1994.2 The new board of directors comprised Brian Backwell (Chairman), Alan Backwell, Jonathon Backwell (Alan's elder son), Robin Pennell and Charles Kuiper. The company's Financial Controller, David Isaac, was Secretary. Robert Backwell (Brian's eldest son) was overseas at the time of the board's founding - he joined the board in early 1998.3 On 3 September 2001 Jonathon resigned as a director and was replaced by Matthew Backwell (nominee for Alan's family). Charles Kuiper resigned on 27 June 2002 and, on 27 April 2003, was replaced by

A C H A N G E I N C O R P O R AT E D I R E C T I O N

John Gurrieri. Before joining the board, Gurrieri had a 30-year career with Pacific Dunlop, where he was responsible for the company's South Pacific tyre business. Like Robert Backwell, Kuiper was a graduate of the University of Chicago. He had a long career with AMCOR and also worked with McKinsey and Mayne Nickless. In 2005 Brian and Alan retired from the board and Ian Vaughan was appointed as a non-executive board member. Robin Pennell and John Gurrieri resigned from the board in January 2007.4 Brian and Alan have been active in community and industry affairs in Geelong for much of their working lives. Among others, Brian held the position of President of the Geelong Branch of the Australian Chamber of Manufactures, Chairman of the Geelong Manufacturing Council and a member of the Economic Development Board of the City of Greater Geelong. He was also a Commissioner with the Geelong Regional Commission. Alan joined the company in August 1973. He qualified as an industrial chemist at the Gordon Institute of Technology and worked as a textile chemist at the Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Woollen Mill before joining his brothers in the company.5 Alan made a lifelong contribution to Scouting in Geelong for which he received The Citizen of the Year Award on Australia Day 1996.6 He also had a strong involvement with Rotary International. Alan Backwell. Courtesy Today the board of Backwell IXL is made up of Robert of Backwell IXL. Backwell (Chairman), Matthew Backwell and Ian Vaughan. When he assumed the chairmanship of the board, Robert Backwell brought considerable experience of corporate business and governance with him. After gaining law and commerce degrees at Melbourne University, Robert worked as a solicitor for Smith and Emmerton in Melbourne. In 1989 he went to the University of Chicago where he was awarded a Master of Business Administration. In 1991 he returned to Australia and joined Macquarie Bank in Sydney as a corporate adviser on raising finance and mergers and acquisitions. In 1998 he joined a small group called Macquarie Direct Investment, which provided private equity funding to established businesses that were looking for capital to enable them to go to the next stage in their development, or to fund a change of ownership. This group was the main contributor to Macquarie's private equity business in Australia. While Robert had worked at Backwell IXL on a casual basis during school holidays in the early 1980s he did not have any direct involvement in the business until he joined the board in 1998.7

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Ian Vaughan had a long career as a senior executive at the Ford Motor Company with responsibilities spanning manufacturing and product development. He is recognised as the `father of the Ford Territory', 8 which has been a very successful product for Ford. Matthew Backwell holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Deakin University. He is a chartered accountant with some 15 years experience in business consulting. His areas of specialisation are business improvement and Ian Vaughan. Courtesy of I. Vaughan. recovery. One immediate benefit of establishing the new board was the strategic perspective that the new members, with their diverse backgrounds, brought to the board's decisionmaking. With the strong accountancy credentials of many of the board members, the board placed a special emphasis on business costs, which were itemised and clarified. While the old board understood the costs that had been incurred in the business overall, it had less appreciation of the costs of Matthew Backwell. operating each division and each product line. Courtesy of M. Backwell. Among other things, the Board's new policies contributed to the cessation of the lost foam process in 1999 and a reappraisal of pricing policy of foundry products. These actions turned IXL Metal Castings into a successful and profitable entity under General Manager David Sykes, who joined the business in December 1998 as Foundry Manager. In September 2001 he was given responsibility for IXL contract manufacturing and the paint shop, which, together with the IXL Metal Castings, formed IXL Manufacturing. David Sykes. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. David holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and an Associate Diploma in Business from the University of South Australia, formerly the South Australian Institute of Technology. Before joining Backwell IXL, he held senior works positions with Email, Boral and Tubemakers of Australia.

Management changes in IXL Appliances

There were a number of changes in the management of IXL Appliances after the new board was formed. Adam Charleston, previously the company's Financial

A C H A N G E I N C O R P O R AT E D I R E C T I O N

Controller, had been appointed to the position of General Manager of IXL Appliances in the early 1990s. Charleston did not share the vision of the board concerning the direction of the appliance business and, in November 2003, left the company. In his place the board appointed John Gurrieri as Executive Director of IXL Appliances. In May 2006, Gurrieri stepped down from this position, but remained as a member of the board. Mike Delauney was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of IXL Appliances Malcolm Owens. Courtesy of Backwell IXL. on 15 May 2006, after a successful career over many years with Kambrook and Breville. When Breville acquired Kambrook, Delauney was appointed to the position of National Sales Manager of the group. Part of his brief from the Backwell directors was to investigate new appliance products. He initiated the development of a range of small appliances with `a focus on breakfast'. This range was launched in August 2007. Tragically he died of a stroke in mid-June 2006 while travelling to Sydney on business. Malcolm Owens, the company's Marketing Manager, was appointed as Acting Chief Executive Officer for IXL Appliances on 14 June 2006. He joined the company 1 May 2000.

Searching for the next core product

Between 1996 and 2003 company revenue increased from some $20 million to about $50 million,9 with the majority of revenue coming from IXL Appliances, and the `Tastic' product range in particular. However this business was at risk, given that the `Tastic' range was by then around 28-years old, and was facing mounting competition from imported products, particularly from Asia. By 2004 the `Tastic' product range was starting to lose some of the 70-80 per cent market share that it had enjoyed over the previous few years. The company's share of the portable heater market also began to drop. These outcomes were due, in large measure, to improved quality, low-cost Asian imported products, and the change in the way Australians live. Twenty to 30 years ago portable heaters and `Tastic' products were an important part of the way people kept their bathrooms warm. Today houses are better insulated and central heating is more widely used. What the company needed was a more diverse appliance product range, which would generate the sort of profitability and performance that would justify continued investment and growth in the future.10 The board reasoned that the only way this could be done

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IXL `E-BBQ'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

IXL `Quasar Premier'. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

was to develop new products in-house, source new products from outside the company and/or identify a suitable company for acquisition.11 The directors acted on all three fronts. In October 1999, they began selling `Bonaire' evaporative cooling products. The following month Backwell IXL acquired the ex Vulcan `Conray' and `Quaser' portable electric heater ranges from Ilec Appliances.12 Ilec had taken over the Heating and Cooling Division of Southcorp Holdings in July 1999, when Southcorp moved out of the domestic appliance market. In 2000 Backwell IXL launched an electric barbeque.13 The company found it difficult to compete with gas barbeques, which had an unshakable hold on the outdoor cooking market. In 2001 the company offered imported electric blankets from the United Kingdom to the Australian market. These remain a part of the IXL range today. In addition the directors entered into an agreement with Skope, a New Zealand manufacturer of commercial refrigeration and portable heaters, to act as their distributor for heating products in Australia. They believed that the Skope products would extend the salesmen's offering to the Backwell IXL customers, and through the sale of these products make an incremental contribution to the company's appliance business.14 In fact they found that the Skope products added greater complexity to the business and did not generate sufficient margin to justify continuing the distributorship. The directors also looked to China as a source of components and IXL designed products, so that the company could remain cost effective in its various markets. In the end none of these activities broadened nor strengthened the appliance business base for the company in a way that would have meaningfully reduced the company's dependency on the `Tastic' product range.15 As Robert Backwell recalled matters were `getting to the point of having to find another way of growing

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and sustaining the appliance business or we needed to think hard about getting out of the appliance business altogether or radically changing the business model.'16

Sampford IXL

In 2004, the board began a study to identify a business with a similar customer base and compatible products that Backwell IXL could either merge with or acquire. In this way the board could achieve its objective, albeit through association with another organisation. This study identified Sampford & Staff, an Australian family-owned company, that imported, distributed and manufactured high quality kitchen, heating and lifestyle brand products. Following additional analysis by the directors, Richard Drury and John Gurrieri, the board authorized Robert Backwell to write to Professor Charles Sampford, Chairman of Sampford & Staff and son of the founder, Horrie Sampford, asking if they would be interested in selling their appliance business to Backwell IXL.17 While subsequent discussions were very amicable, the Backwell board had to reluctantly withdraw from the negotiations. Robert Backwell kept in touch with Charles Sampford, and in June 2006, Charles suggested that negotiations be resumed. The approach used in the resumed negotiations was that Sampford shareholders would not sell their appliance business to Backwell IXL, but would merge Sampford & Staff with IXL Appliances, with shareholders of each group becoming shareholders in the new company. During the last six months of 2006 the prospect of a merger was investigated thoroughly. Questions of how it might work from legal, organisational, operational and marketing points of view, were pursued along with a number of due diligence studies. After this both companies decided to move forward with the merger. Among other things, Sampford brought to the new business significant sales revenue and a wide portfolio of products. The company was the Australian distributor for premium kitchen appliances marketed under the brands Gaggenau, Neff, La Germania, Jenn-Air and Hansgrohe. Sampford was also the Australian distributor of Mirror Image crystal display television and Revox audio products. In addition to its import business the company sub-contracted the manufacture of the Cannon range of gas log heaters for the national market.18 On 19 December 2006, Charles Sampford and Robert Backwell announced the merger, which came into effect on 1 February 2007. The new company of Sampford IXL was created by joining the assets of the IXL Appliance business with those of the Sampford business. Eighty per cent of the new entity is owned

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by Backwell interests, while the remaining 20 per cent is held by Sampford & Staff.19 The two companies are a good business fit, with complementary product ranges; overlapping distribution channels, with room to grow; and common back-office processes, with opportunity for improving efficiencies. As Richard Drury pointed out, from an accounting point of view, the IXL Appliance business and the IXL Contracts business already had separate profit and loss Richard Drury. statements. This allowed the appliance business items Courtesy of Backwell IXL. to be easily identified. Where items were shared by the appliance and contracts businesses, an analysis was undertaken to determine how much was to be allocated to each business. By 1 February 2007 separate balance sheets were prepared.20 In addition a team of senior managers from both Sampford and Backwell IXL addressed overall strategy for the merger. These managers were supported by ten integration teams made up of representatives from the two companies. These teams looked at all business functions and recommended where they should be located and the procedures that needed to be adopted. The board of Sampford IXL is comprised of Robert Backwell (Chairman), Matthew Backwell and Ian Vaughan representing Backwell IXL and Professor Charles Sampford, (Deputy Chairman) and Henry Bosch representing Sampford.21 By agreement Charles Sampford assumed the position of Chairman at the time of the company's formation. This provided stability for the new company in its start-up phase, particularly in its dealings in the marketplace. Robert Backwell took over as Chairman in April 2007.22 Paul Bridgeford, Managing Director of Sampford & Staff for some 20 years was appointed as Managing Director of Sampford IXL. When he resigned in September 2007, he was replaced by Martin Carter, who subsequently left the company in February 2008. 23 Robert Backwell reflected that the merger has not been without its challenges, not the least being corporate culture and people issues. Ultimately the merged entities had to change their culture and ways of doing things in order for the new company to survive. The need to change was not always accepted and this resulted in some people leaving during the merger process; others were retrenched as a result of the rationalisation.24 The appliance manufacture and assembly of Backwell IXL remained at Wood Street, under Operations Manager Kelvin Stones. This unit is responsible for supplying products, such as `Tastic', to Sampford IXL. The new company

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maintained offices in Geelong at Wood Street and Melbourne at Smith Street, Fitzroy. Sampford's national distribution centre in Fairfield and showrooms in Sydney and Perth were maintained by the merged company. By 30 June 2007 the integration of the two operations was largely completed. In their joint statement to staff, Robert Backwell and Charles Sampford pointed out that Sampford IXL would Kelvin Stones. be a larger entity than either IXL Appliances or Sampford Courtesy of Backwell IXL. & Staff. This offered the opportunity to increase overall sales, allow better use of the company's brands, develop new commercial projects and importantly, improve the company's position in dealing with the large retailers.25 With this merger the Backwell IXL board achieved its long-held objective in one step. As Robert observed, `we could have a very substantial base of revenue, a broad portfolio of [quality] products and the capacity to generate a return on investment that would enable us to reinvest for future growth.'26 In all, Sampford IXL will be a key part of the future prosperity of the Backwell business.

Moving with the times: IXL Appliances advertisment.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Chapter 11

Meeting challenges in the new millennium

Lessons in product development

Since the introduction of the gas griller in 1948, the Backwell company has diversified its product range to some 150 products which are supplied to appliance and industrial components markets both in Australia and overseas.1 While some, such as the IXL `Dragon', the IXL `Hotline Classic', IXL `Pressed Steel Vanity Basins' and the IXL `Tastic' enjoyed outstanding successes, others were not so fortunate. Robert Backwell observed that `you can never be sure whether a new product is going to be successful . . . the history of this business, even in the time that I've been around . . . is riddled with situations where we thought we had a great new idea about a new product or product category and found that it was not successful.'2 In 1999 Brian Backwell did an assessment of those products that had not lived up to the company's expectations. He found the reasons as varied as the products themselves. He pointed out that the absence of a national marketing network until the 1980s, meant the marketing of IXL products to potential new customers was generally inadequate. In some cases products were launched onto markets before those markets were ready to accept such innovations. This occurred with `Superior Fireplaces'. In other cases insufficient production capabilities translated into higher costs and complicated manufacturing procedures. This was clearly the case with the IXL `Corio Upright Electric Cooker'. In addition he found that on occasions the company had not carried out its market research well enough and some products were considered as being `too way out'. The decision not to introduce a gas wall furnace with add-on cooling in 1984 could fall under this category. Another cause of product failure was the introduction of `me too' or

MEETING CHALLENGES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

imitation products. This lack of differentiation occurred with items such as the IXL `Gas Griller' and the kick-board electric heaters and under-floor six-kilowatt ducted electric heaters. A major reason for failure was the problem of competing with entrenched players. This was evident with the introduction of Lennox's horizontal ceiling-mounted central heating and air conditioning units, the gas wall furnace IXL `Finesse' and the development of IXL pressed steel baths. As part of the marketing effort it was found necessary to identify the correct channels for the new product. This did not always occur, as was the case with the gas wall furnace with add-on cooling, where the directors found that the company's dependency on gas utilities led to difficulties in marketing the product. On occasions the directors were too tentative and they withdrew products instead of correcting the problem and re-entering the market. From a marketing perspective the company at times under-funded promotion campaigns, which led to a low market awareness of the product. Technical problems were a major reason for the lack of success of a number of products. As a case in point the technical problems experienced with the IXL Heat Bank `Visionaire' led to its withdrawal from the electric storage heater market. After 1972, successive Commonwealth Governments pursued a policy of progressively lowering import tariffs. This, and the globalisation of trade, have meant that Australian manufacturers faced increasing levels of competition from overseas. In order to combat this trend the directors imported components, where the overseas manufactured part had a distinct cost advantage over parts that were manufactured in-house, or sourced locally. Imported products were not without their problems. In some cases the directors found that imported products were not suited to the Australian market and in other cases they found that imported components and appliances lacked the necessary quality to meet Australian standards. The IXL halogen lamp portable electric heater was one such example.

The future of metal castings

Over the last five years the IXL Metal Castings section of IXL Manufacturing has done well under the leadership of David Sykes and Peter Klein. However, the business is still dependent on a narrow customer base. While the business' position is constantly under threat from competition from overseas foundries, the specialty nature of its products and niche markets offer some protection. Nevertheless there is an ever-present need to improve the foundry's

Peter Klein.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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Rodney Smith pouring molten metal at the Backwell IXL foundry. Courtesy of Zoe Alderson.

Gavin Maher finishing a metal casting. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

MEETING CHALLENGES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

productivity and broaden its customer base to provide increased stability for the business into the future. As Robert Backwell has pointed out, competition in the foundry business will be even greater in the years ahead than it has been in the past and there will be an increased need to secure key customer relationships.3 This could lead to a sharing of productivity gains and possible changes in function for IXL Metal Castings, particularly in the case where the introduction of new technologies or the customers' economic decisions mean that some components are imported from overseas. In such cases IXL Metal Castings could undertake the role of managing sections of the supply chain for the customer, particularly in the areas of quality and timeliness of delivery and inventory management.

The future of metal pressings

The IXL Contracts section of IXL Manufacturing is dependent on the Australian Automotive Industry, and Toyota and the Ford Motor Company in particular. Up until 2006 the business was largely dependent on Toyota. However when Silcraft, the Melbourne-based automotive parts manufacturer, decided to close its Mount Waverley plant in early November 2005 it left the Ford Motor Company without assured supplies of parts midway through the model build. The Backwell IXL team, with the assistance of Ian Vaughan, struck a deal with Ford and agreed to take over the Silcraft contract to supply roll-formed components. As part of the agreement Backwell IXL purchased the Silcraft roll-forming operation and paid for its relocation from Mount Waverley to Wood Street, while Ford paid for the equipment's setup costs. This project was a typical Backwell IXL team effort. The fact that the project to supply Ford with roll-formed parts was completed within a few months was due to the leadership of David Sykes and Ross McDonald; the employees, who had to learn the new technology and manufacture the automotive parts to Ford's exacting standards; and to Richard Drury and his staff, who carried out the analysis on the feasibility of taking on the new business.4 When Coghlan-Russell Engineering closed its operations in Breakwater on 14 June 2007 it caused immediate supply problems for Ford and the loss of jobs in Geelong.5 Because of the smooth transfer of the Silcraft operation to Geelong, and the speed with which supplies of roll-formed components came on stream, Ford was amenable to the suggestion by the Backwell IXL management that the company take over the contract between Coghlan-Russell and Ford to supply pressed metal engine components. Ford agreed that the remainder of the contract be supplied by Backwell IXL and Brisbane-based CMI. The Backwell IXL team completed the

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Pressing automotive components. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

transfer of equipment in three weeks and began supplying components to Ford's Geelong and Broadmeadows' plants in the following week. While IXL Contracts is assured of supplying component parts for the Ford `Falcon' utility and the Ford `Territory' sport utility vehicle (SUV) for the next few years, the contract to supply some parts for the `Falcon' sedan will end in mid2008. This situation was exacerbated by Ford Motor Company's announcement on 18 July 2007 that it will close its engine factory in Geelong in 2010 and import a new V6 engine for the locally produced `Falcon' sedan, `Falcon' utility and `Territory' SUV. This has put added pressure on the objective of the Backwell IXL board to diversify the IXL Contract's business base. While they are looking to additional business from Toyota beyond the current model `Camry', they are mindful that this will not be achieved easily. In addressing this problem, Robert Backwell stated that `what we need to do is to make sure that we are prepared to invest in improvement in productivity and performance to ensure that this business has a life beyond the current [Ford and Toyota] models'.6 In the light of the experience with Silcraft and Coghlan-Russell, Robert Backwell stated that `I think the rationalisation of metal stamping shops in Australia will provide us with the opportunity to pick up some more niche work'.7

MEETING CHALLENGES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

The future of the manufactured appliance business

The commercial environment in the appliance manufacturing business is probably even tougher than in the foundry and pressings areas because of the increasing numbers of Asian imports being brought into the Australian market. Today the number of Australian heater manufacturers has decreased to the point where Backwell IXL is the last. In order to survive in this market the directors of Backwell IXL have had to increase the proportion of imported products in its mix of appliances offered to the market. The final mix will be a matter for decision by the board of Sampford IXL. In facing the stark reality of what it will take to succeed in the future, Robert Backwell has pointed out `all we have is the right to compete and try to carve out a sustainable future for ourselves and that means getting better at everything we do'.8

The `Tastic' assembly line in operation. Left to right Pam Carlson, Nicole Sullivan and Troy Fisher.

Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

Meeting future challenges

The challenges for Backwell IXL in 2008 are fundamentally no more difficult than the challenges the company has faced in the past. In the 1960s the directors had the problem of finding another core product to replace the IXL stove and at the same time diversify the business. After much investment and product development, the company developed `Tastic' bathroom heaters and formed separate businesses in metal casting and contract pressings. In recent years the company has faced the problems of finding a major product to replace `Tastic' and expanding the appliance business. The directors have responded with the formation of Sampford IXL.

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Feeding coiled metal sheet into a press. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

The company has always been managed prudently. The directors have continually re-invested money back into the business; and as Brian and Robert Backwell pointed out, they never stretched the company's finances to the point where debt threatened the core business. This conservative financial management approach will stand the company in good stead for the future. Through persistence and an attitude of `can do', the directors have been very successful even in times of adversity. Some of their boldest moves were made during periods of national economic downturn. Ebenezer and his sons purchased the Gheringhap Street factory site and successfully launched the IXL stove in the early 1890s. In 1928, Edwin and Albert successfully introduced the new IXL stove `Triumph' and expanded the Backwell factory to accommodate its manufacture. During the mid to late 1970s, Brian, John and Alan successfully launched the `Tastic' bathroom heater; and in the early 1990s the directors expanded the company's range of portable heaters by purchasing the heater manufacturer, Haan. Underpinning these successes was the company's ongoing programme of product development. David Sykes summed up this history when he commented that `Past decisions may have been right or wrong and some products may not have met expectations, but more importantly the business made decisions at critical times, which on balance proved to be the correct ones'.9

MEETING CHALLENGES IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Brian Backwell receiving a special award from Patrick McCaffrey, Chairman of the Geelong Manufacturing Council, in recognition of the contribution made by Backwell IXL to the Geelong economy over 150 years. Courtesy of Backwell IXL.

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T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

Appendix A

Owners/major shareholders in the company 1858-2008

Ebenezer Backwell Edwin Walter Backwell Albert Ernest Backwell Edwin Lyle Backwell Albert Leslie Backwell Alwyn Robert Albert Backwell * Brian Owen Leslie Backwell * Edwin John William Backwell

* Current major shareholder

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Appendix B

Directors of the company 1923-2008

Edwin Walter Backwell # Albert Ernest Backwell Edwin Lyle Backwell Albert Leslie Backwell # Les Cocking John Moffat Alwyn Robert Albert Backwell Brian Owen Leslie Backwell # Edwin John William Backwell Jonathon Leslie Backwell Robin Charles Pennell Charles John Kuiper Robert Peter Backwell *# Matthew Hartley Backwell * John Gurrieri Ian Vaughan *

#

Chairman and/or Managing Director

* Current director

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Appendix C

Managing Directors/Company General Managers 1923-2008

Edwin Walter Backwell Albert Leslie Backwell Brian Owen Leslie Backwell Andrew Lawson Adam Charleston John Gurrieri David Sykes *

* Current General Manager

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Appendix D

Managers 1902-2008

General Manufacturing Managers

Edwin W Backwell H F Christopher Les Cocking Brian Backwell Anthony Palamara Karl Linnert Donald Carter David Sykes

Metal Pressings Managers

Karl Linnert Mike Gibson Ross McDonald

Appliance Managers

John Backwell Adam Charleston John Gurrieri Mike Delaundey Kelvin Stones

T H E E M E R G E N C E O F T H E I X L S TO V E

Foundry Managers (Metal Castings)

J. Audsley A E Robertson Bob Beecroft Len Meadows Stan Kelwig Ray M Goodwin Ken Deans Donald Carter David Sykes Peter Klein

Sales and Marketing Managers

John Backwell Donald Tanner Greg Lake Malcolm Owens

Service and Research & Development Managers

John Backwell Brian Bishop Jim McCutcheon Kevin Brighton Malcolm Owens

Financial Controllers

Albert Leslie Backwell John Moffat Dan Eyre Adam Charleston David Isaac Richard Drury

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Appendix E

Employment

1903 (1) 1931 (2) 1939 (3) 1957 (4) 1976 (5) 1980 (6) 1986 (7) 1988 (8) 1992 (9) 1995 (10) 1999 (11) 2004 (12) 2007 (13)

8 19 28 40 95 130 130 140 200 95 95 95 120

Sources:

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) Group photograph of employees, 1903. Group photograph of employees, 1931. Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Supply and Development, Industrial Questionnaire, June 1939. S. Stevenson, `Furnacing a future', Geelong Business News, Issue 153, June 2007, p. 25. Geelong Regional Planning Authority, The Geelong Region: Industrial Register, 1976, pp. 28, 29. Geelong Regional Commission, Geelong Region: Industrial Register, 1980, p.30. Geelong Regional Commission, Geelong Region: Industrial Register, 1986, pp. 8, 9. Internal Backwell IXL document profiling the company in 1988. Geelong Regional Commission, Geelong Region: Industrial Register, 1991/92, p. 11. City of Greater Geelong, Geelong and the Surf Coast: Manufacturing & Processing Register, 1995, pp. 10, 11. City of Greater Geelong, geelong region: manufacturing & processing register, 1999, p. 12. City of Greater Geelong, www.geelongaustralia.com.au/Business_Register_ Search/index. asp, 2004. S. Stevenson, `Furnacing a future', Geelong Business News, Issue 153, June 2007, p. 25.

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Inroduction

1 2 K. Drayton, `Manufacturing chief calls for export push', Geelong Business News, August 1995, p. 11 Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007.

Chapter 1

1 E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd, An Outline of the History of E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd., Ironfounders and Manufacturers of Cooking and Heating Appliances 1858-1958, Geelong, E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd., June 1958, p. 3, (This booklet was published to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the business). This site has been renumbered as 15 Aberdeen Street, notes from B. O. L. Backwell, 10 June 2007. A. L. R. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', Investigator, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 1972, p. 12. Interview with A. R. A. Backwell, December 2007. Ebenezer Backwell landed at Melbourne with his wife Mary Ann and son Ebenezer on 14 December 1852. The population of the Port Phillip District grew from 32,897 in 1846 to 77,345 in 1851. This boast was prompted by the large amounts of wool and other rural products being exported at that time to England from Geelong. I. Wynd, Geelong - The Pivot: A Short History of Geelong and District, Mont Albert, Cypress Books, 1971, p. 19. G. A. McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong in the Nineteenth Century', MA thesis, Deakin University, School of Australian and International Studies, 1998, pp. 26, 27. G. Serle, The Golden Age: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1963, pp. 10, 11. Serle's italics; Serle, The Golden Age, p. 12. E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. Interview with B.O.L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. A. L. Backwell, manuscript of the Autobiography and Memoirs of Albert Leslie Backwell, 1980, Backwell archive. Population growth had been stimulated by the revival of the Victorian economy in 1856.

2 3 4 5 6 7

8

9 10 11 12 13 14

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15 After 1857 gold production began to slide, with production falling below two million ounces in 1861. Serle, The Golden Age, p. 390, Appendix 5, Gold Production. 16 Serle, The Golden Age, p. 239. 17 The population of Geelong reached a high of 23,327 in 1857. 18 McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong', p. 46, Table 3.13. 19 McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong', p.197, Table 4.56. 20 E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 3. A whitesmith works cold metal. A blacksmith works metal while it is red hot. 21 A. L. R. Cocking, Address to the Geelong Historical Society, n.d. An investigation by the author in May 2007 showed that these bells were no longer in existence. 22 Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 15. 23 Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 15. 24 Cocking reported that hinges on the stable doors at Sladen House were produced by Ebenezer Backwell. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 15. 25 Cocking, Address to the Geelong Historical Society.

Chapter 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 12. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. K. Matthews `Now you're cookin', interview with Merril Parker-Hill, Geelong Advertiser, 26 February 2000, p. 37. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p.17. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p.15. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 16. Manning & Bishop's `Geelong & Western District Directory 1882-1883', advertisement, p. ix. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 15. Cocking, Address to the Geelong Historical Society. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. Notes on the Gheringhap Street factory site by B. O. L. Backwell, 10 June 2007. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. Geelong Advertiser 2 January 1891. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4; A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. In the obituary for Edwin Walter it stated that `At the age of 21 years he was taken into partnership by his father'. Geelong Advertiser, 4 July 1941, p. 5. Given that Edwin was born in 1868, this would give a date of 1889 when he joined the business. Geelong's population increased from 24,142 to only 27,020 between 1870/71 and 1890/91. McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong', p.197, Tables 3.18, 3.19, 3.20 and 3.22, pp. 52, 53, 54, 55 respectively. Roy Hay and G. A. McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong: A History of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, 1853-2005, Geelong, Sports and Editorial Services in association with the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, 2006, p. 31. Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong, p. 33. Between 1891 and 1895, the number of manufacturers fell from 124 to 107, manufacturing employment declined from 1,678 to 1,581, and investment in machinery fell from £252,135 to £147,340. McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong ', p.197, Tables 3.18, 3.19, 3.20 and 3.22, pp. 52, 53, 54, 55 respectively. Drayton, Geelong Business News, p. 11. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography.

15 16 17

18 19

20 21

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22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 16. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. Cocking, Address to the Geelong Historical Society. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 16. Geelong Advertiser, 9August 1902. This information was provided by B. O. L. Backwell; McLean, `The Development of Manufacturing in Greater Geelong', p. 210.

Chapter 3

1 2 3 4 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. R. Cocking, Notes on the E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd. Organisation, compiled 1st November 1970. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 16. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 18; Walter Randolph Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay, 1955, with postscript 1955-1990 by Ian Wynd, Geelong, the Geelong Advertiser, postscript edition, 1990, p. 132. The single ovens supplied to Hubble Bros. in Maryborough as from early 1920 had a damper fitted inline with the demands of the agent. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son; B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. In Bendigo, after Faul, Backwell & Son appointed Warren & Company as agent. This was later followed by the appointment of Hume. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 17. Around 1930 Charles Andrews bought the Page Stove Works. Thereafter Page stoves were made at Andrews' Spring Street works in Geelong West. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son; E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son.

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Chapter 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 18. This welder was sold to J.H. Stephenson and Son in LaTrobe Terrace in 1948. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 9 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 10 Cocking, `Geelong Stovemakers', p. 17. 11 Minutes of directors' meeting held at the company's offices on 22 February 1923.

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12 E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son; A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Note book kept by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A. Backwell. 13 Geelong Advertiser, 4 July 1941, p. 5. 14 Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 15 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 16 Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 17 Interview with A. R. A. Backwell, December 2007. 18 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 19 Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 20 Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. 21 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007.

Chapter 5

1 2 Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong', p. 51. Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong', pp. 51, 52. These conclusions drew on the work of C. B. Schedvin, Australia and the Great Depression, Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1973, pp. 47-51; R. G. Gregory and N. G. Butlin (eds.), Recovery from the Depression: Australia and the World Economy in the 1930s, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 2-14; N. Cain, `Recovery Policy in Australia, 1930-33: A certain native wisdom', Australian Economic History Review, vol. 23, no. 2, 1983, p. 197; A. E. Boehm, `Australia's economic depression of the 1930s', Economic Record, vol. 49, pp. 606-23. Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong, pp. 52, quoting from the Annual Report of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, 1930. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong', p. 51. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Interview with A. R. A. Backwell, December 2007. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL; Cocking reported that the `No. 4 Series' was introduced in 1944. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Geelong Advertiser, 17 April 1940, 17 February 1941 and 4 July 1941. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. E. Backwell & Son , History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son; B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL.

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Chapter 6

1 2 3 Hay and McLean, Business and Industry, Geelong, Table 2, p. 30. G. A. McLean, `The History of the Geelong Regional Commission,' PhD Thesis, Deakin University, Geelong, 2005, p. 75. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6.

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4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with B.O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 2. A. L. R. Cocking, autobiographical notes, 11 October 1973, Backwell archives. Cocking, Notes on E. Backwell & Son. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. The illustration of the No.1 Model IXL stove in Cocking's paper `Geelong's Stovemakers' states that prices are `Free (of cost for) Delivery at Railway Station or Wharf, Geelong'. Cocking,`Geelong Stovemakers', p. 14. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6. Interview with A. R. A. Backwell, December 2007. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6; B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 6. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 4. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A. Backwell. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with D. Sykes, 18 September 2007; interview with J. McCutcheon, 26 July 2007.

Chapter 7

1 2 3 Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, p. 7. Stuart Walsh, `People in the news' interview with A. L. Backwell, Geelong News, n.d. Backwell archive. 4 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 5 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL gives the date of the initial production of the `Dragon' heater as 1954. 6 Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. 7 E. Backwell & Son, History of E. Backwell & Son, 6; Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. 8 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 9 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 10 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 11 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL.

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12 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007; Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. 13 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd. 14 Occasionally the company did business with Parkinsons, as well as Newberrys in Geelong; A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 15 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes prepared 22 February 2008. 16 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes prepared 22 February 2008. 17 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes prepared 22 February 2008. 18 Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 19 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL; A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 20 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. 21 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 22 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 23 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 24 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. 25 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 26 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. 27 A. L. Backwell, Autobiography. 28 Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 29 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. 30 Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. 31 Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 32 The plant had been built in-house. Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 33 Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 34 www.doi.vic.gov.au/Doi/Internet/transport.nsf/ City loop history, Time line. 35 Interview with R. Read, 10 January 2008. 36 A. R. A. Backwell, `Quest for new products, 1991-2001', a review of the activities of Backwell IXL, October 2001. Chapter 7.

Chapter 8

1 By May 1974 the annual growth of the money supply was reduced to 16.2 per cent. In the year to September 1974 it was just 6.6 per cent, and in the last four months to September it showed no growth at all. P. Scott, `Growth centres', in P. Scott, (ed), Australian Cities and Public Policy, Melbourne, Georgian House, 1978, p. 53. In a diversified economy the manufacturing sector is the main contributor to gross regional product, and because of its high multiplier effect is the key driver of regional employment and wealth. Hughes suggested that the Government's 25 per cent tariff reduction caused only some 10 per cent of Australia's unemployment in 1974. He, like Professor Fred Gruen, Whitlam's economic adviser, attributes increasing exchange revaluations and domestic wage rises with having a much greater quantitative effect in reducing Australia's international competitiveness than tariff reductions. B. Hughes, `The economy', in A. Patience and B. Head (eds), From Whitlam to Fraser: Reform and reaction in Australian politics, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 18. Scott, `Growth centres', p. 53. In Australia the savings ratio at the start of the 1970s was 9.8 per cent, where as by late 1974 it was 19.2 per cent. Scott, `Growth centres', p. 53. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007.

2 3

4 5 6

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7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

Hughes, `The economy', p. 20, Table 2, real unit labour cost, December quarters 1971­77, based on information from the Australian Bulletin of Labour, June 1978. This Table showed that indices for real unit labour costs in the non-farm sector rose from 100.9 in 1972 to 112.4 in 1974, after which the index fell to 106.3 in 1976. Hughes, `The economy', p. 20. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. Interview with B. O. L. Backwell, 14 May 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. A. L. Backwell, Autobiography; Note prepared by Brian Backwell for the memorial service for Albert Leslie Backwell, 11 March 1983. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007; interview with J. McCutcheon, 26 July 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Drayton, Geelong Business News, p. 11. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. Interview with E. J. W. Backwell, 24 September 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL; Drayton, Geelong Business News, p. 11. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Geelong Business, July 1987, p. 4. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Interview with R. A. McDonald, 30 July 2007. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL.

Chapter 9

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 B. O. L. Backwell, Notes on E. Backwell, E. Backwell & Son and Backwell IXL. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Interview with P. Klein, 24 July 2007. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Interview with P. Klein, July 2007. Interview with R. A. McDonald, 30 July 2007. Interview with R. A. McDonald, 30 July 2007. Geelong Advertiser, 14 April 1998, p. 1. Interview with R. A. McDonald, 30 July 2007. Interview with R. A. McDonald, 30 July 2007.

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Chapter 10

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Telephone interview with D. Isaac, 18 September 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007; Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Interview with D. Isaac, 18 September 2007; interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell;. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. Geelong Advertiser, 26 January 1996. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Telephone interview with D. Isaac, 18 September 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Drury, 30 July 2007. Note book written by A. L. Backwell and A. R. A Backwell. A. R. A. Backwell, `Quest for new products 1991-2001'. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. James Wells, press release on Sampford & Staff Pty. Ltd. and IXL Appliances announce merger, n.d. Interview with R. Drury, 30 July 2007. Interview with R. Drury, 30 July 2007. Interview with R. Drury, 30 July 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Statement to staff by Robert Backwell, Chairman of Backwell IXL and Charles Sampford, Chairman of Sampford & Staff, n.d. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007.

Chapter 11

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 S. Stevenson, interview with David Sykes, Geelong Business News, June 2007, p. 25. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Geelong Advertiser, 15 June 2007, p. 27. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Interview with R. Backwell, 1 October 2007. Comments by D. Sykes, 6 March 2008.

INDEX

0

Index

Pages in bold print refer to picture captions.

3 M consortium, 50 Aberdeen Street factory, 5, 8, 12, 21 Adelaide, 55 AGA, 40 Aikman Engineering, 27 Albury, 19 Albury-Wodonga, 55 Alexander Miller Homes, 22 Allied Ironfounders, 39, 42, 47, 49 Amalgamation Committee, 60 AMCOR, 74 Andrews, 11, 39 Andrews, Charles, 11, 12, 19, 21 APEM, 29, 47 Asian imports, 77, 87 Audsley, J., 13, 16, 95 Australian Army, 29 Australian Automotive Industry, 73, 85 Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 59, 62 Australian Chamber of Manufactures, 75 Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), 55 Australian Manufacturing Industry, 73 Australian Portland Cement Company, 13 Australian Women's Army Service, 30 Backwell, Albert Ernest, 2, 12-16, 19, 21, 29, 68, 88, 91, 92 Backwell, Albert Leslie, viii, 2, 18, 20-1, 23, 27, 29, 32, 33, 43, 59-60, 91-3, 95 Backwell, Alice Maude, 15, 21 Backwell, Alwyn Robert Albert, viii-ix, 2, 32, 33, 43, 59, 70, 74, 75, 88, 91-2 Backwell anvil, 15 Backwell, Brian Owen Leslie, viii-ix, 2, 32, 33, 35, 38-9, 42-4, 47-8, 50-2, 55, 59, 62, 70, 74-5, 82, 88, 89, 91-4 Backwell Bros., 1 Backwell, Ebenezer, frontispiece,1-9, 12-5, 38, 88, 91 Backwell, Edwin John William, ix, 32, 33, 41-2, 45, 47-9, 52, 56-7, 59, 61-2, 70, 88, 91-2, 94-5 Backwell, Edwin Lyle, 2, 21, 23, 32, 43, 91-2 Backwell, Edwin Walter, 2, 12-16, 19, 21, 23, 29, 68, 88, 91-4 Backwell, Elizabeth Clara, 21 Backwell IXL Pty. Ltd., vii, 1, 41, 47-8, 52-3, 59, 60, 63, 69, 71, 73-6, 78-9, 80-1, 85-7 Backwell IXL metal pressing shop, 86,88 Backwell IXL tool room, 71 Backwell, Jonathon, 2, 34, 74, 92 Backwell, Mary Ann, 6 Backwell, Matthew Hartley, ix, 2, 74, 76, 80, 92 Backwell, Michael, 34 Backwell, Penny, 34 Backwell, Peter, 34 Backwell, Robert Peter, vii, ix, 2, 34, 74, 79-82, 86-8, 92 `Bakelite', 24 Ballarat, 5, 7, 40 Barwon Paper Mill, 13 Barwon River, 38 Barwon Rowing Club, 22 Barwon Woollen Mill, 12 Beardon, Ern, 23 Beecroft, Robert, 68, 95 Bendigo, 40 Bellhanger, 8 Bishop, Brian, 41, 95 Black's Foundry, 30 Blacksmith, vii, 4-7, 11 Blakiston and Shortell, 59 Bombay, 6 `Bonaire', 78 Boral, 76 Bosch, Henry, 80 Braemar, 38, 45, 52 Breville, 77 Bridgeford, Paul, 80 Brighton, Kevin, 95 British Cast Iron Research Association, 37 Brivis, 60 Broadmeadows, 86 Buninyong, 5 Cannon gas log heaters, 79 Cant, Andrew, 19 Carlson, Pam, 87 Carmichael, 39 Carter, Don, 69, 74, 94-5

0

INDEX

Carter, Martin, 80 Castellain, Richard, 41 Castlemaine, 5 Castle Bros., 18 Central Highlands Goldfields, 5 Chambers & Seymour, 18, 27 Chapman, Bob, 57 Charleston, Adam, 74, 76-7, 93-5 Cheetham Salt, 13 Chilean sand mill, 38 China, 53, 78 Christopher, H. F., 13, 23, 29, 94 Citizen of the Year, 75 Clayton, 39, 48 Clunes, 5 CMI, 86 Cocking, Les, ix, 8-9, 32, 52, 92, 94 Coghlan-Russell Engineering, 85 Collingwood, 2 Colony of Victoria, 5 Commonwealth Department of Defence, 30 Commonwealth Government, 29, 54-5, 73, 82 `Conray', 66, 78 Containers Limited, 74 Cooking Stove Wages Board, 21-2 Corio Club, 59 Country Fire Authority, 72 Countrywide Building Society, 56 Courier, 34 Craig Seeley, 51 Cune & Co., 19 Cupola furnace, 27 Darby, Mr., 6 Deakin University, 76 Deans, Ken, 95 Design Act, 62 Delaundey, Mike, 77, 94 Discovery of gold in Victoria, 5 Disney, 52 Drawings for IXL back draft fitting, 10 Drayton, Kasey, 2 Drury, Richard, ix, 79-80, 85, 95 Dyson's Foundry, 21 Dyson, J. & Sons, 20 E. Backwell, 1, 4, 8 E. Backwell & Son, 1, 12 E. Backwell & Son Pty. Ltd., 21, 29, 39, 40, 48, 50 Edina, 34 Email, 76 E.M.F. spot welder, 21, 23 Enamelling plant, 47-8, 49 Enamel Price List, 28 `Energy World', 62 Erskine House, 8 Esler and Belton, 43 `Esse', 40

Evans' `Eagle' Foundry, 12, 16, 19 `Everhot', 39 Eyre, Dan, 95 Fairfield, 81 Farrow Group of Building Societies, 74 Fauld, W., 19 Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers (FAPM), 73 Fire at Woods Street factory, 72-3 Fisher, Troy, 87 Fisher and Ludlow, 49 Fitzroy, 81 Flagstaff Railway Station, 53 Ford `Capri', 70 Ford `Fairlane', 70 Ford `Falcon' sedan, 70, 86 Ford `Falcon' utility, 86 Ford Motor Company, 30, 33, 42, 50, 64, 69, 73, 76, 85-6 Ford Motor Truck Division, 70 Ford Product Engineering Department, 70, 76 Ford `Territory', 76, 85 Foundry at Gheringhap Street, 35, 36-8 Foundry at Wood Street, 84 Gaggenau, 79 Gas Australia, 69 Gas and Fuel Corporation, 45, 47, 62 Geelong Advertiser, 5 Geelong Business, 64 Geelong Business News, 2 Geelong Business Excellence Award, 64 Geelong Businessmen's Club, 59 Geelong Chamber of Commerce, 13-4, 55, 59 Geelong Chamber of Commerce & Manufactures Exhibition 1936, 25 Geelong City Council, 22, 60 Geelong Club, 13 Geelong Economic Development Board, 75 Geelong economy, 5-7, 12-3, 26-7 Geelong Gas Company, 59 Geelong Industrial Exhibition 1879-80, 8 Geelong Manufacturing Council, 75 Geelong Market Square clock, 16 Geelong News, 43 Geelong Permanent Building Society, 22, 56, 59 Geelong population, 6, 7, 12, 31 Geelong Publicity Council, 22 Geelong Railway Station, 34 Geelong Regional Commission, 75 Geelong Stove Works, 21 Geelong trams, 21 Geelong unemployment, 7, 13, 26, 56 Geelong Volunteer Artillery, 22 Geelong Wharf, 34 General Motors Holden, 69 George and George, 27

INDEX

0

Germany, 19 Gerrard Industries, 64 Gheringhap Street Stove Works, ix, 12, 13, 16, 18, 20-2, 23, 32, 34-5, 88 Gibson, M., 94 Gilling, Harry, 23 Gordon Technical College, 13 Gordon Institute of Technology, 33, 75 Gordon McKay Pty. Ltd., 65 Gold mania, 6 Goodwin, Ray, 23 Goodwin, Ray M., 95 Graham, 39 Great Depression, 23, 26-7, 55 Green, J. R., 19 Grinter, Rupert, 23 Guernsey, 6 `Gumleaf', 29 Gurrieri, John, 75, 77, 92-4 Haan, 65-6, 88 Hansgrohe, 79 Harding, Silas, 5 Harnwell, 39 Hay, Roy, 26 Heine folder, 24 Hitchcock, George M., 13 Hobart, 19 Holdaway, H., 23 Hooper's property, 35 `Horton' cramp folder, 32 Hubble Bros., 19 Hughes, Dr. Barry, 54-5 Huyck Australia, 94 Ilec Appliances, 78 `Improved Cottage Range', 8 International Harvester Australia, 42, 70 Irvings, 19 Isaac, David, ix, 74, 95 IXL `70 Series' stoves, 39, 43 IXL `72' slow combustion stove, 39 IXL `95'slow combustion stove, 38, 39 IXL `101'cooker, 43, 44 IXL `127' cooker, 43, 44 IXL `411' heater, 65, 66 IXL `901', 46 IXL `No. 1' stove, 17 IXL `No. 1a' stove, 17 IXL "No. 1c' stove, 17 IXL `No. 2' stove, 17 IXL `No. 3' stove, 17 IXL `No. 4' stove, 29 IXL `No. 4a' stove, 31 IXL `No. 4c' stove, 31 IXL `No. 4 Series' stoves, 29 IXL `No. 6' stove, 30 IXL `No. 8' cooker, 30

IXL `No. 8a' cooker, 30 IXL `No. 9' stove, 23 IXL `No. 10' stove, 23 IXL `No. 12' stove, 27 IXL Appliances, 76-7, 79-81 IXL Appliances advertisement, 81 IXL Appliances and Contracts, 74 IXL `Avalon' slow combustion stove, 40 IXL `Conray', 78 IXL Contracts, 85-6 IXL `Corio' electric cooker, 56-7, 82 IXL `Dragon' room heater, 43, 44, 82 IXL `Easy Duct Tastic', 64 IXL `E-BBQ', 78 IXL `Enamelled Basins', 49 IXL `Enamelled Baths and Basins', 49, 50, 51, 82 IXL `Finesse' gas wall furnace, 46-7, 82 IXL `Fire Bed' convector, 40, 41 IXL `Gas-Electric Air Conditioner, 45 IXL `Gas Griller', 45, 82 IXL `Gas Pot', 45, 47 IXL `Glenwood' slow combustion stove, 40 IXL `Heat Bank', 57 IXL `Heated Towel Rail', 65 IXL `Hotline Classic' heater, 58-9, 82 IXL Industries, 74 IXL `Ironing Cupboard', 67 IXL `Kardinia', 57 IXL Manufacturing, 76, 82-3, 85 IXL `Marshall' slow combustion stove, 42 IXL Metal Castings, 69, 76, 82-3, 85 IXL `Midi Bank', 57 IXL `Nipper' heater, 65-66 IXL `Plus Series' stoves, 27, 29 IXL `Quasar Premier', 78 IXL `Radiant' heater, 66 IXL `Sovereign' space heater, 58 IXL `Superior Fireplace', 59 IXL `Tastic', 62-4, 69, 70, 77, 87 IXL `Tastic' assembly line, 87 IXL `Tastic' `Companion', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Delux', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Easy Duct', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Nouvelle', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Original', 63 IXL `Tastic Premier', 63 IXL `Tastic; `Sensation', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Silhouette', 64 IXL `Tastic' `Triumph', 64 IXL `Triumph' stove, 22-3, 24, 88 IXL `Valour' gas heater, 46 IXL `Vent-A-Light', 62-3 IXL `Vision' electric cooker, 56 IXL `Visionaire' heat bank, 57, 82 IXL `Warm Morning', 56 Japan, 45, 73 Jenn-air, 79

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INDEX

John Lysaght Australia, 32, 50 Jones, Jack, 13, 23 Jowett, Percy, 23 Just-in-Time production control, 73 Kambrook, 64, 77 Kelwig, Stan, 95 Kendall, P., 21 Kennedy, Wally, 23 Kilynack, 13 Klein, Peter, ix, 82, 83 K Mart, 51, 60 Korea, 66 Korean Automotive Market, 69 Kuiper, Charles, 74, 92 Kyneton, 19 La Germania, 79 Lake, Greg, 95 Laughtons, 50 Launceston, 19 Lawson, Andrew, 74, 93 Legacy, 59 Lennox Industries, 60 Lennox IXL. Pty. Ltd., 60 Linnert, Karl, 70, 94 Lorne, 8-9 Lost foam casting, 68-9 LUX, 39 Macquarie Bank, 75 Macquarie Direct Investments, 75 McCaffrey, Patrick, 89 McColls transport, 52 McCutcheon, Jim, ix, 61, 95 McDonald, Ross, ix, 65, 73, 85, 94 McIlwraith, 50 McKinsey, 75 McLean, G. A., 26 McPhersons lathe, 32 Maher, Gavin, 84 Maher, Ron, 65 Mains, R. A., 27, 33 Malcolm Moore, 50 Malpas, Charles, 29 Market Square, Geelong, 8 Maryborough, 19 Mates, 19 Mayne Nickless, 75 Meadows, Len, 68, 95 Mercure Hotel Geelong, 12 Mee, Lindsay, 50 Melbourne, 5-7, 13, 39, 61 Melbourne Wharf, 34 Mercantile Bank, 13 Metters, 39, 45, 50 Mildura, 19 `Milwaukee' moulding machine, 33

`Mirror Image' television, 79 Model stove, 9 Modern Maid, 51-2 Moffat, John, 32, 49, 92, 95 Montell Australia, 64 Moorabbin, 50 Moore Stephens, 74 Mount Waverley, 85 Mullinder, Jon, ix Myttons, 47, 50-1 Neff, 79 `Nonpareil' self setting stove, 11-2, 19, 21 Newcastle, 55 New South Wales, 19 New Zealand, 62, 65, 78 `One fire stove', 11 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 55 Otto, 67 Owens, Malcolm, ix, 77, 95 Pacific Dunlop, 75 Page, 19 Page Stove Works, 19 Palamara, Tony, 42, 94 Parker, James Alexander, 11 Parker, Tom, 23 Parliament Railway Station, 53 PBR Brakes, 69 Pennell, Robin, ix, 74, 92 Perth, 81 Pivot Ice Works, 14 `Pivot Stoves', 11, 14 Polar Milk, 59 Port Phillip District, 5 Priddle, Sandra, vii-ix, x Public Works Department, 31 `Pure Heat', 63 Purnell, Robert, 34 Pyramid Building Society, 56 Queensland, 23, 29 Queensland Pastoral Supplies, 29 Range maker, 8 Range setter, 11 `Rayburn', 39 Read, Ron, ix, 47-9, 52-3 Returned & Services League (RSL), 59 Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Woollen Mill, 59, 75 Revox audio products, 79 Richards, Larry, 41 Richmond, 6, 32 Riello, 61 Risbeys, 19 Robertson, A. E., 23, 29, 95 Robinhood, 67

INDEX

0

Rockwell International, 70 Rosenfeld, Ron, 57 Rotary, 22 Rotary International, 75 Royal Melbourne Show, 18 `Royer' sand throwing machine, 37 Sampford & Staff, 79, 80-1 Sampford, Horrie, 79 Sampford IXL, vii, 80-1, 87 Sampford, Professor Charles, 79, 80 Schofield, Albert, 59 Scouting, 75 Seely International, 47 Sharrock, Glen, 65 Shire of Ripon, 8 Showroom at Gheringhap Street, 35 Silcraft, 85 Simpson, 39 Skope, 78 Sladen House, 9 Smallman, George, 23 Smith and Emmerton, 75 Smith and Searles, 32 Smith, Rodney, 84 Soldiers Settlement Commission, 31 South Africa, 73 South Australian Institute of Technology, 76 Southcorp Holdings, 78 Spain, 53 State Electricity Commission (SEC), 48, 52, 57, 62 Steam Packet Wharf, 6 `Street Litter Bin', 68 Stones, Kelvin, ix, 80, 81, 94 Sullivan, Nicole, 87 Sunshine Vitreous Enamellers, 47 Sydney, 81 Sykes, David, vii-ix, x, 79, 76, 85, 88, 93-4 Tabor' moulding machine, 27 Taiwan, 66 Tanner, Don, 61 Tasmania, 23, 59 Thailand, 73 Thermador Incorporated, 58 `The Shop', 34 Toyota `Camry', 86 Toyota `Corona', 70 Toyota'Corolla', 70 Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, 64, 70-1, 73 Tubemakers of Australia, 76 Unidare, 57 United Kingdom (UK), 46, 49, 64, 78 United States of America (USA), 25, 49, 59, 60, 62, 64, 73 USA Automotive Market, 69 Union Woollen Mills, 12

University of Chicago, 74-5 University of Melbourne, 33, 75 University of South Australia, 76 Vaughan, Ian, ix, 75, 76, 80, 92 Victorian Die Moulders, 29 Victorian goldfields, 5 Victorian Government, 53 Victorian Housing Commission, 31 Victorian population, 5-6 Victorian Railways, 23 Volkswagen, 50 Vulcan, 45, 61, 66 `Vulcan' heater, 58 Walsh, Stuart, 43 Wangaratta, 19 `Warmray', 44, 58 Washington, H. H., 26-7 Waste Master Australia, 67 Wellstood, 39, 40 Werribee Council, 48 Western Australia, 23 Whitesmith, 4, 8 Wilmax, 38 Winter and Taylor, 12 Wollongong, 55 `Wonderheat', 58 Wood Street factory, 32, 44, 61, 72, 80 World War I, 19, 20 World War II, ix, 19, 31, 41, 48 Yarra Street Methodist Church, 22 Zaps, 64

0

INDEX

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