BENDIGO company Australian Turntables has continued to expand on a global scale despite the COVID-19 pandemic, opening an office in one of the world's most populous nations - India
Specialising in revolving platforms used in car showrooms and private homes, Australian Turntables is a trusted brand worldwide.
General manager Marc Smith said the scale of things that could be placed on the locally manufactured turntables ranged from vehicles to revolving restaurants and even houses.
"Some of the biggest buyers are supermarket chains that want to use them to turn trucks around in their loading docks," he said.
"We were getting inquiries from India and we knew people through our customer contacts over there and they wanting to do more, so we took the opportunity."
The turntables weigh anywhere between three tonnes and 24 tonnes and the business counts the US as one of its biggest and most lucrative markets.
"We have distributors around the world and we have just set up a new one in South Africa," Mr Smith said.
Paul Chapman founded Australian Turntables in 1987. The Kangaroo Flat-based company has manufactured highly technical and specialist machinery for installations in more than 20 countries around the globe, as well as across Australia.
The area with the most growth recently had been in residential car turntables.
"Block sizes are becoming smaller and there can be a lot of trouble accessing battleaxe blocks," Mr Smith said.
"If you have the turntable, you don't have to turn around. Once you can do that then you can use your extra land for another bedroom, or more garden or a swimming pool."
The idea for the company started when Mr Chapman's father, Gordon, at an advancing age, was finding it difficult to exit his driveway and came up with the idea of a turntable to make this easier for him and his wife Kath.
Gordon and his son Michael designed, built and installed a turntable and it worked perfectly. Gordon thought the idea was so good he encouraged another of his sons Paul, a hotelier at the time, to look into the business opportunity.
What Gordon could not possibly have known is that his DIY invention would put into motion a series of events that would lead to an international business.
The turntables have also been used on major and challenging construction sites to help speed up projects that are drawing close to their deadline.
"They can be used to assist with excavations for big high rise constructions, because it takes vehicles a lot of extra time to turn around and get out," Mr Smith said.
"The turntables can be packed up and relocated and just rented out for projects. One of ours was used for the Sydney metro tunnel.
"They were behind schedule and were able to speed up the process enough so they actually made their deadline."
Mr Smith said demand for the company's product was increasing but Australian Turntables was feeling the same strain as other businesses that were trying to attract staff in the current labour market.
"We're struggling to find people," he said.
"Whenever we find anybody with welding experience - it is a huge thing for us. We had a person drop in their resume and we called them the next day and they already had a job. That's how competitive it is right now."
Mr Smith said there were vacancies for welders and trade assistants.
"We can train people. We need people who can work on fabrication. We have doubled our sales in the past six months and now we really need more people."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that a quarter of businesses were struggling to find staff late last year, with the food and accommodation industries especially hard hit.
The hospitality sector was more than 50,000 positions short of its pre-coronavirus levels.
The ABS issued a survey and found that 27 per cent of businesses were having difficulty finding suitable candidates to hire.
One-fifth of those surveyed said they didn't have enough workers, with 57 per cent of those had trouble attracting the right people.
Nearly 20 per cent of businesses were also struggling to retain existing staff.
The businesses surveyed reported issues around the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic including domestic and international border restrictions, which curtailed the ability to bring in labour from outside Australia.
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