Type to search

Product & Equipment

Makinex Aims to Make Inefficiencies Extinct


ASK RORY KENNARD, CORE DESIGNER AND Innovator, about the early days of Makinex and he’s frank about where they started. “We probably didn’t have much of a clue,” he says. “We were originally known as Work Smart Equipment, and there were challenges. Then we decided to rebrand, which leapfrogged our business into the future.” That rebranding decision—to call the company Makinex — was their turning point. “We knew we had innovations that were borne from trying to make inefficiencies extinct,” says Rory. “We had the ability to see these inefficiencies and the passion to try and overcome them, so our plan was to make hard jobs easy.”

They also made the decision to focus on the construction industry.

“Being an entrepreneurial, inventions business, we could easily have been sidetracked into other industries,” says Rory. “But we are in construction, and anything we do will fit in that area. That was a real driver.” From a team of two — Rory and Paul Weaver, Head of Strategic Sales — Makinex is now a company of 50 employees with offices in Sydney and Dallas, Texas, plus a network of dealers around Australia and the globe. Makinex products are carried by more than 4,000 equipment hire and rental companies and over 1,000 reseller and OEMs worldwide.
Paul says the game changed for Makinex when Kennards approached them to create a product that would help alleviate back and shoulder injuries caused by lifting equipment in and out of vehicles.

The culmination of that request was the Makinex Powered Hand Truck (PHT) which allowed one person to safely lift objects up to 140kg without the risk of injury.
“Typically, customers are looking for return on investment,” he says, “so allocating funds towards a safety product to benefit in-house teams wasn’t always front and centre.”
Yet today, the PHT has been adopted by hire companies around the world. It’s won multiple global awards, including the HRIA’s Product of the Year in 2014 and in 2016, the UK Innovation Trail Award. “The industry has recognised our products as great innovations,” says Paul. “To receive those accolades has really made us proud.” They also acknowledge the role of Hire in getting their products to market. “Every one of our products goes into Hire,” says Rory, “that’s the common thread.” CEO John Stewart agrees. “Hire is vital to this company. It has been for 20 years and will be for another 20 years.”
“You build credibility and relevance with your channels over time,” he says. “With Hire, if you’re not relevant, robust, and responsive, you won’t last.” They’ve also noticed a trend with hire companies becoming more open to adapting innovation before the market is ready for them. “The industry values innovation more now than it did 20 years ago,” says Paul. “A lot of hire companies around the world are now leaders in product development rather than followers.”

As a company that develops unique and practical product solutions for contractors and tradespeople to do their jobs better, the Makinex team is always looking for the next big innovation.
“In the early days, we’d encourage the whole team to get involved,” says Paul. “We’d start the idea off and ask everyone to contribute — from accounts to the warehouse and forklift drivers. It was a way of bringing innovation to the table and helped to develop our products. Our belief is if you think there’s a better way, speak up and let’s discover what it is.”
It’s part of what John calls ‘an amazing knack’ for being able to spot problems that other people don’t. “We like to solve a problem in the light of the problem we see, rather than the light of the problem that’s presented to us,” he says. “When we start and see some of these issues around silicosis or the need for dust suppression on job sites, that drives us to invent new products or ensure our existing products are fit-for-purpose. As an example, our Jackhammer Trolley was invented 15 years ago but over the last year, we’ve launched a vacuum attachment to protect operators from dust and debris.” It’s these emerging issues and trends that keeps the Makinex team focused and excited about the future.
“The focus used to be on ensuring people didn’t hurt their backs, lifted correctly and worked more safely and productively,” says John. “Now, it’s about creating a better working environment that’s not going to harm them.”

Makinex Renewables

Around two-thirds of the R& D team are now working on battery and solar products for Makinex or their spin-off company, Makinex Renewables.
“We’ve got a new portable power box range which is replacing small petrol generators on construction sites,” says Rory. “The Hybrid Power System (HPS) from Makinex Renewables is also replacing diesel generators on site. This will be a full solution to give our customers all the pieces of the puzzle the need for a green solution onsite.”
At its core, Makinex is a hands-on practical company that’s transitioning from a product-driven innovation business to a people-driven business.
As John explains: “Instead of ‘would you like to work on this product?’ it’s, ‘are you interested in the output of this product?’ That’s a compelling message for people looking to join our company. It also makes us ‘stickier’ and improves our culture.”

Looking back over 20 years, they say it’s been a journey of perseverance. “I could name dozens of occasions where people weren’t interested and didn’t want our product,” says Paul. “We could have given up and said, ‘well that product is not going to fly, we’ll go and try something else’ but we always had passion and a belief that our products work.”
It’s also about having fun and getting the balance right. “How can you persevere in the face of adversity unless you’ve got passion enjoying what you do, and having fun,” says John. “While we focus on the business and are serious about it, we also make sure we enjoy the journey along the way. It’s an exciting place to be.”

With a number of new products currently in the pipeline, Makinex is hoping to showcase their new innovations at HIRE24 in Brisbane.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.