Today's Dexion: Renewed, Re-energised and Ready for Tomorrow

Today, there are 171 cities in China with a population larger than a million; Greater Shanghai alone has more people than Australia. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, boasts a higher per capita GDP than traditional trading partners Britain, France and the United States. Closer to home, Indonesia’s populace of 240 million people has grown by nearly 30% in the last decade.

Given these numbers, it is clear that the opportunities lying on Australia’s doorstep are fabulously rich for Australian companies. But it’s also clear that attempting to grasp those opportunities without the right preparation, understanding or groundwork can be mere wishful thinking for a business.

Especially in uncertain economic times like these.

When Dexion realised in the mid-2000s that the next stage of its growth lay beyond domestic shores, management also realised that the then-current shape of the business was unsuited to the task.

‘There were none of the regional synergies that were required to really take full advantage of the things that were coming up’, explains Mark Barraclough, Executive General Manager. ‘We knew the sorts of things we wanted to do in the region,’ explains CEO Peter Farmakis. ‘There was evident demand for the kind of product and category leadership that we were good at.’ ‘But we had to get the conditions for the business right first. And that was where the hardest decisions had to be made.’

The hardest decision of all perhaps, was the decision of shareholders to sell the company to GUD Holdings in September 2010. However the sale, and subsequent injection of cash and capital allowed Farmakis and his management team to ‘get those conditions right’.

Dexion had already decided to broaden its manufacturing base, having established additional facilities in Malaysia and China before the sale to GUD. But the restructure and re-alignment meant that these assets could start growing export markets of their own. Proximity to boom economies in Asia and the Middle East meant that projects could be supplied more locally, and at a cost base more in keeping with local expectations while still meeting the quality and service expected of the brand.

But this move wasn’t just about cutting costs. ‘It was about putting in place a regional, rather than a national configuration,’ says Barraclough. ‘Having lower costs but inconsistent product lines and differing quality standards would have rather defeated the purpose’.

Eighteen months on from the GUD acquisition, and Dexion’s new direction has started to pay dividends. In partnership with category leaders like Vocollect (voice solutions), TGW (automated logistics) and Texo Applications (robotic shuttles), Dexion has secured a string of significant new projects across the region which reinforces their systems integration expertise.

• The largest satellite DC in China, with more than 80,000 pallet positions • The largest DC in Indonesia, with in excess of 160, 000 pallet positions • Regional DC in Hong Kong for major international 3PL • Major systems project for leading retailer in the Middle East

It’s also meant that Dexion have been able to track their Australian customers into the region.

‘Our relationships with Linfox, Recall and Toll all originated with Australian projects,’ says Farmakis. ‘But as they’ve moved into markets in Asia, we’ve been able to support them, which is very pleasing. Systems integration is our strength. Working closely with our customers and supply partners, we are able to deliver our customers solutions in line with their strategic business plans.’

‘We’re hoping to announce some more exciting developments soon.’

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, it’s allowed Dexion to bring its new racking system Speedlock to market across the region, the biggest development for our industrial business since the launch of the iconic Keylock nearly 30 years ago.

‘The launch of Speedlock provides the market with a choice of Dexion racking systems,’ says Barraclough. ‘For example, along with Keylock, we’re able to offer our customers sixteen different beam options, providing greater design versatility and class leading load carrying capacity. This leap forward in component design, makes Dexion’s ability to find a cost-effective solution just about unmatchable.’

Tested exhaustively by the independent UTS (University of Technology, Sydney), the launch of Speedlock coincides with the adoption of the new AS 4084 standard to be introduced in 2012.

Although nominally an Australian standard, when introduced it will be regarded as the most demanding in the world and expected to be observed in regional markets, as well as by multinational customers. ‘The new standard incorporates an extended range of tests which accommodate advanced engineering techniques with regards to product testing not currently included in the EN Standard (formerly FEM)’, says Barraclough.

‘UTS have conducted over 1000 tests on all products from Dexion’s Australian and regional manufacturing facilities in accordance with the new AS4084 Standard, so customers can be certain that Dexion products are engineered to world class standards.’ Making workplaces safer and more efficient while helping companies future-proof their investment.

‘Speedlock is a first-rate product, coming to market at just the right time,’ says Farmakis. ‘But more than that, it’s an appropriate symbol of what Dexion are doing and plan to do in Australia and in the region. We’re proud of our heritage and our history of innovation. But to grow and thrive, and to help our customers grow and thrive, the Dexion of today needs a broader horizon. We need to take the things we’ve always done well in Australia to the world.’

‘And I like to think we’ve only just begun to do that.’