ALEMLUBE 50 YEAR ANNIVERSARY – the story so far
From humble beginnings at St Leonards in Sydney, Australia; Alemlube says it has grown to be one of the leading suppliers of lubrication equipment in the country
In 1970 at the age of 43, Ian Williamson saw an opportunity and with an entrepreneurial spirit set up shop close to St Leonards Station in an area which is now primarily retail space and high rise residential apartments, as the New South Wales distributor for Alemite products.
At the time Alemite products were being manufactured in Chicago (USA), Newcastle (England) and in Adelaide, under license by Clyde Apac.
In the 50s and 60s a large number of new service stations were being built with those new service stations typically having workshops, or as they were known at the time, Lubritoriums.
Old oil company brands like Amoco, Golden Fleece, Esso and Ampol usually had Tecalemit, Alemite or Aro oil and grease pumps, hose reels and control valves in their then state-of-the-art workshops.
Also at the time there were a lot of Alemite 70:1 ratio grease pumps at the BHP steel manufacturing facilities in Newcastle (New South Wales) and Hastings (Victoria) as well as Australian Iron and Steel in Wollongong (New South Wales). The resupply of new equipment and spare parts to keep the grease pumps operative in what were extremely harsh and demanding operating conditions effectively provided the base for a new business venture.
Oil mist lubrication systems at Comalco in Yennora (New South Wales) and the Caltex refinery at Kurnell, also in New South Wales, needed to be replaced, commissioned and maintained and that the fledging company then known as Alemite Lubrequip did.
Business was steady through the 70s and 80s and things started to ramp up in the early 90s when Dunlop Industrial Sales came onboard in 1992, inviting Alemite Lubrequip to be its lubrication equipment MRO supply partner: its first national key account.
Another milestone in the 90s was when the Shell Oil Company placed an order on Alemite Lubrequip for 800 air hose reels to be used on the forecourts of their petrol station sites around the country: at the time the $250,000 order seemed like a gift from heaven.
Slowly the range expanded with grease guns from Germany, drum pumps from Taiwan, plastic covered hose reels from China, lube equipment from Spain, refuelling equipment from Italy, lube systems from Germany and capital workshop equipment from Italy being added to their program as they entered the new millennium.
Alemite Lubrequip had an offer that closely mirrored and matched the needs of the market. As to be expected, the way of doing business changed and in 2000 step by step Alemite Lubrequip started the move from a Manufacturers’ Rep business model to its own branch model and that change heralded a new era for the company; opening a branch in Brisbane with branches in Perth and Adelaide to follow.
With its own staff; a dedicated, knowledgeable and focused sales team; local stock and local after sales service; the company went from strength to strength. When the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory and Queensland/Papua New Guinea branches started doing their own in-house light engineering work and put together a team of fitters to do Workshop Fit-out and Lube Systems installations, the package that Alemite Lubrequip could offer the market took a big step forward – creating a solutions approach rather than a ‘box in, box out’ offer.
Sadly in November of 2007, Ian George Williamson passed away at the age of 81, but today more than ever Ian’s values, style, personality and business ethos lives on – setting the tone and approach that the business is based upon.
Since Ian’s passing twelve years ago, two of his sons – Ross and Mark – now manage the business with the aid of Pam Rodrigues as the third member of the Management Team.
With key supplier Alemite USA – which had no financial interest in the business – about to be sold by an Equity Firm which owned them at the time, after 40 years of being known as Alemite Lubrequip a name change was in the wind.
Viewed internally as an opportunity to more clearly define the business and brand, by the end of 2010 Alemite Lubrequip had changed its name to Alemlube and any confusion and uncertainty in regard to the relationship between Alemite USA and Alemite Lubrequip Australia was no more.
The scene was set for the company to grow and present itself without the shadow and dilution of the Alemite brand and an unpreceded period of growth followed.
In 2011 the company established its New Zealand subsidiary, Alemlube Ltd NZ, which today is an integral part of the company’s go to market strategy. In 2014, when another opportunity arose, the company acquired Adelaide-based Tecalemit which boasts a proud history in Australia going back 80 years to 1940.
It is often asked: What makes a company successful? What is the difference between companies that come and go; companies who emerge but then stagnate; and companies that make their mark, standing the test of time and providing a service and offer that works?
Ross says: “For sure it is in part about having the right supply partners. For sure it’s about having good business acumen. For sure it’s about being positive and looking for and being open to opportunities as and when they arise. In part it’s about good luck and being in the right place at the right time, but more than anything else, it is about the team.”
“It’s about having the right blend of people with complementing skill sets, it’s about trying to keep that team cohesive, united and together and it’s about creating a culture where the staff’s input is asked for and valued,” continued Ross, who looks after the Operations, Purchasing and IT components of the business.
“Of course as a company gets larger and the communication lines expand, that’s easier said than done, but if everyone feels empowered, valued and engaged it goes a long way.”
When it comes to the questions of how are the next 50 years looking, where to from here and what impact will electric or hydrogen driven motors in passenger vehicles around the world have on oil companies and the likes of Alemlube, Mark – responsible for Sales and Marketing – has the following to say:
“Of course only time will tell but if Alemlube and its staff keep true to our core values in the future as we have in the past, if we keep abreast of changes in technology and developments in the marketplace,” he said.
“If we stay flexible and embrace change and if we keep focusing on the needs and requirements of end users in the industry and the distributors with whom we work closely, hopefully the next 50 years will be as rewarding and successful as the past 50 years.
“We’ve got a strong brand, a sound business culture and a solid platform and that combined with an optimistic approach should be enough to deliver a bright and successful future for our 100 percent Australian Family Owned Business.”
The team at Alemlube would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge its supply partners, customers – both direct and indirect – and its current and past staff for the confidence and support they have shown and provided Alemlube going all the way back to April 30,1970.
For more from Alemlube, visit www.alemlube.com.au