Product, People and Passion

Whites Group

For more than thirty-seven years, Whites Group has supplied the rural sector and beyond with innovative fencing products designed to offer better design, safer use and faster set-up. In doing so, the company has built a strong reputation for quality in products and service, and for its ongoing innovative development of new products to meet customers’ varied needs.

Founded in 1977 as a two person operation by John Kelly, this third generation family owned and operated Australian business now employs more than one hundred and fifty people and maintains an international presence allowing the group access to material resources and new technology at an unmatched speed

Today, the company is operated by John’s three sons, each contributing his own varied skills and experiences to the company. Managing Director Peter Kelly, General Manager Michael Kelly and IT/Systems Manager Paul Kelly work in collaboration to continue the legacy of this values-driven business while encouraging ongoing organic growth and innovation throughout all levels of the organisation.

Peter Kelly, speaking of the importance of being a family owned and operated Australian business says, “We are proud of the business built on family values, and it is still a huge commitment going forward, reflected in the people we employ and all we do in the market.”

As a company, Whites Group relies on its streamlined organisation and efficient development process to build strong, lasting relationships with both customers and industry partners in order to provide customers with the best products possible. “That is how we operate,” he says, “We’re focused on integrity – it’s the way we approach the market and we rely on our partnerships.”

With this base of integrity in place, the company is able to effectively focus on continued product and service delivery, innovation and market growth.

“We’re now employing a lot of people as we grow, and we have to plan around growth and have a vision to be a market leader.” As the group grows, its focus on its core values becomes ever more important. The Kelly family makes sure that new hires share these values.

The company’s five value statements are: “Get in and do it”; “Be courageous”; “Help each other out”; “Always improving, always growing”; and “Be passionate about what you do”.

Whites Group supports employees who apply these values through its innovative Values Rewards program, which provides peer recognition for the group’s people who best embody any of the value statements throughout the organisation. “Everyone who’s nominated gets a letter – even if they don’t win – so it’s about peer recognition and, from a company point of view, it recognises that they are part of the DNA of the group.”

The family led organisation not only allows the recognition of a job well done, but also encourages speed in decision making and the ability to adapt meaningfully to changing market situations or the application of new processes and technology. “With the speed at which we work, as we’re growing, it’s important not to lose those values and become caught up in a bureaucracy. We want to remain flexible.”

Innovation and the speed at which the company can get products to market are key drivers in what the company is able to achieve in terms of growth. With an incredible three month turn-around between innovation in product design and market placement, Whites Group is consistently first to market with new technologies and consumer products. “We’re an organisation where we can move fast, and innovate quickly as well.”

The leadership of Whites Group recognises that markets have been difficult internationally, and that today, if you’re not innovating, you haven’t got a hope – it’s an ongoing obligation to be a competitive market leader and continue growing.

The group measures itself against the world market to inspire continued innovation and growth, not content to sit back and watch while other companies beat them to market. “You have to grab the idea and get it working quickly.”

Today’s world markets have shrunk with the ongoing development of technology and social media, and Whites Group recognises the importance of being a player on a global scale to provide Australian markets with the best products.

“What it also means, is that we spend a lot of time researching and travelling to gain access to the latest tech and materials and see what’s happening in different markets at different times to develop a huge data base instead of just researching in Australia.”

The group’s international office in China, employing ten people, operates as a mixture of sourcing, quality assurance and development projects designed to support and promote its domestic operations. Regular visits to and from China initiate special projects and allow the Chinese team to observe domestic conditions of the Australian sites.

In the rural sector, Whites Group has built a strong reputation for innovation and quality products, becoming an industry leader in rural fencing solutions and products.

As part of its focus on innovation, the company has looked closely at what it can provide its customers across the sector in order to provide better, faster, cheaper and easier to use products. Recently, Whites challenged the fence post market with the release of its landmark product, Stockpost, which introduced many new features (some of which are patent protected). The game changing rural fencing product, introduced in 2012, was the result of three years of research and development and represents a multi-million dollar investment for the company.

Australian farmers were left with little choice between premium priced fence post products, or the cheaper though untested and unreliable alternatives. Having identified a gap in the market, Whites Group set about development of the Stockpost. The product the company created has proven to be significantly stronger than other offerings, and has been specifically designed for the practical enclosure of livestock.

“We’ve had a huge advertising program and massive support from the industry so, building on that, we’ve decided to see what else we can do. We’ve added the Frauenfelder partnership, and that gives us the next space for our expansion to make it that next level of growth.” The combination of Whites Group brand recognition and Frauenfelder’s manufacturing capabilities will bring greater value to the rural fencing market in Australia.

Through the partnership, Australian consumers will see the benefit of two great, family owned and operated Australian businesses joining forces to provide a more extensive service. “In March, Frauenfelder became the exclusive manufacturer for Whites’ Australian-made fencing range and Whites assumed responsibility for all of Frauenfelder’s sales and distribution activities.”

The company operates across three brand platforms: Whites Wires offers a comprehensive range of mesh, nettings and posts including Stockpost and a range of fencing materials and hardware specifically designed for Australia’s rugged rural environment; Whites Outdoors offers home and garden lifestyle solutions; and Whites On-site which provides a range of trade tough product solutions for the worksite.

Whites Wires, the company’s longest running brand, has been supplying Australia’s rural sector with wire fencing products for nearly forty years, offering product lines including everything from fence and barbed wire, right through to joiners, strainers and fencing, as well as products for heavy industry.

“We kept Whites Wires for traditional wire products. We developed Whites Outdoor as a brand, and that has had phenomenal growth.”

The group’s lifestyle brand, Whites Outdoor, offers home and garden solutions. The company has developed and introduced a number of new and exciting products through this brand, including the Retain-iT system, vertical gardening, privacy screening under the Screen Up sub-brand, gutter protection and more.

The Whites On-Site line has been designed to meet the needs of construction and heavy trades’ clients. The diverse range of products allows the company to navigate ever changing industrial and commercial markets. Whites On-Site includes products such as bollards and cones, safety tape and barriers, through to brick mesh and builder’s ties. The range of products has been specifically designed to the needs of the most demanding of customers in even Australia’s harshest environments.

Moving forward, Whites Group can expect to see continued growth, with its exceptional reputation built over nearly forty years of service and a dedication to never-ending innovation. With a goal to be a world leader in rural fencing products and hardware, Whites Group is committed to continue building relationships, developing technology and creating new and better products for its customers.

For more information about Whites Group, please visit http://www.whiteswires.com.au.

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October 21, 2018, 11:45 AM AEDT