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A machine brought back to life gives cause to reflect on our heritage.
In the foyer of our new purpose-built factory sits an 80 year old Hercus Lathe as a display piece. Purchased second hand in 1967, this is the first machine acquired by Draffin Street Furniture. It has been kept in storage for the last decade and was recently dusted off and carefully restored to its former glory. While it is a far cry from the computer-controlled plant we operate today, it is an exceptionally well built piece of equipment. In this modern age of throw away products it is a daily reminder to us of one of our core values – “building products that last”. We thought this was a great opportunity to share some of the history of Draffin with you, and the man who instilled it with this value from the beginning.
The EP of EP Draffin
Edgar Philip (EP) Draffin was born on the 7th June, 1899. His father having died from Typhoid Fever when he was 9 years old, Eddie had to help support his family and completed his education on a factory floor. Starting at the bottom Eddie worked his way up the ranks of the automotive parts business E.A Machin & Co (later renamed Disco Manufacturing), eventually becoming a director and shareholder. Disco grew into a large company producing spark plugs and other parts for the war effort.
In 1950 General Motors made an offer to purchase Disco. Eddie was hesitant to give up a business he had helped build, however it was not his decision alone and the sale went ahead. Eddie was given a position at GM and was involved in the launch of the Holden car. However, not used to the politics of a large organisation he resigned in 1952 and joined his brother Arthur to help build the manufacturing business Draffin Brothers (later renamed “Draffin Everhot”).
Draffin Everhots first product was a hot water service that Eddie and Arthur developed together some years prior on their mother’s kitchen table. As the company grew it branched out into other household appliances including combustion ovens, hot water services and the famous Delmatic Toilet cistern. Like everything Eddie was involved in, these products gained a reputation of being incredibly long lasting. Early in 1964 the brothers sold Everhot to Vulcan, who later sold it to Rheem. Everhot’s brand and reputation for “products that last” is still used by Rheem today.
Eddie branches out
After a break Eddie was looking for his next adventure and together with his youngest son John they started a small business in Ringwood, making commercial taps for beer, soap and other liquids. Later joined by Brothers Don and Brian and with Eddie retiring, the three brothers got to work growing the business. Expanding to hand and electric pumps for caravans and various other liquid handling equipment, the business soon outgrew the small tin shed it started in. The business moved to a larger premises in Brunsdon Street, Bayswater.
Sadly Eddie died in July 1974 at the age of 75 years. However his passion for engineering and manufacturing had been firmly ingrained in his sons. As time went on the caravan pumps became the core focus of the business, and once again the name Draffin got a reputation for “building products that last”.
By 1984 the Brunsdon Street premises had also been outgrown, and it was time to move to the current address in Edelmaier Street, Bayswater. With the extra factory space the brothers took on a small business making street furniture – Inwel Products. As the 80’s rolled on the pump market became flooded with cheap inferior imports. The brothers were left with the choice to either start importing to compete, or cease manufacturing of these products all together. Unable to compromise on quality, they sold the pump business and decided to focus on street furniture. Sales grew quickly as once again Draffin gained a reputation for “products built to last”.
A New Generation
Today, Draffin is a third-generation family business, with John’s son Ian at the helm as CEO. Joined by Kevin and Rhonda Neligan as shareholders and core employees in 2011, and Ian’s brother Ben as Engineering Manager in 2015, Draffin Street Furniture proudly continues to be a 100% Australian owned family business. In 2019 an additional factory was built on the Bayswater site, bringing the production plant to over 3500 sqm.
With a huge range of time proven proprietary designs and extensive experience producing public space furniture for councils, schools and contractors across Australia and Asia, Draffin are experts in producing high-end bin enclosures, seats, benches and table settings.
Like the Hercus lathe, Draffin still invest in the best equipment (built to last of course) and today we have the most modern and comprehensive production facility in our market. However we still believe our strongest asset is our highly skilled team of 40 employees, all of whom take the same pride as Eddie in “building products that last”.