Jehbco proves Australian manufacturing capability in a crisis and expands into new markets

Founded in Sydney in 1974 by four friends—Jim, Eric, Hank and Burt (their initials form the company name)—Jehbco Silicones started off with only a small extruder and mill. Now they are leveraging opportunities to expand into new markets.

According to Jessica Fernandez (Marketing Manager and Defence BDM, Jehbco), “45 years later, Jehbco is an Australian-owned family run business with all manufacturing done on-site. From simple, humble beginnings, we’re now an established silicon extrusion manufacturer, supplying to the medical, defence, construction, infrastructure, and rail industries.”

Jehbco’s dynamic and agile operations have enabled the company to react to changes within industry quickly and to capitalise on new and exciting projects.

Collaborating to realise new markets

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMG created the COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register. The Register was developed to help Australian businesses identify collaboration and market opportunities for the supply of protective, medical, or critical care equipment.

Jehbco registered as a manufacturer not realising the opportunities it would deliver.

“We signed up to the COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register thinking that if someone needs medical tubing we might be able to help. Over the 2020 Easter long weekend, we had a call from Michael Sharpe (National Director Industry, AMGC) about the supply of parts for the notus Emergency Invasive Ventilator Program. We jumped at the chance to get involved,” said Fernandez.

“The project moved incredibly quickly. From concept, to prototyping, and onto manufacturing of the product. A year on from when we were first contacted by AMGC, notus stands as a testament as to the capability of Australian manufacturing when local industry is given opportunities and support.”

On-Shoring to De-Risk Operations

The COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register continues to be a valuable resource for Australian manufacturers. Jehbco has been contacted by several companies looking to bring manufactured components on-shore.

“There are definitely companies looking to de-risk their supply chain. As we’ve seen over the past two years, there has been a multitude of supply chain issues, particularly when it comes to sea and air freight. Most recently, the Suez Canal issue backed up resources and supply routes,” said Fernandez.

“Even if the price is marginally higher, companies are now looking for products and components that are readily available. Accessibility is becoming more important than shaving a few cents off the dollar. There are a lot of companies looking to support the Australian manufacturing industry and realising that we can manufacture everything on-shore, particularly with the investments in R&D that the local industry is making.”

Want to Diversify? Ask for Help

Fernandez urged Australian manufacturers looking to diversify their operations to ask for help—whenever you can find it.

“There are so many great resources available to industry. AMGC, for one, runs so many great courses and networking events. It is a matter of approaching the right organisations and people and asking for help. There is a lot of money flowing into manufacturing at the moment, including grants like the Modern Manufacturing Fund, and Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grant,” said Fernandez.

“With large companies looking to secure and consolidate their supply chains, now is the time to allocate time, energy and resources into expanding your operations.”

“Australian manufacturing really is a small industry. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is willing to help—even if it’s just to offer sage advice. You only need ask,” said Fernandez.