Think HBR

Local manufacturing facing transformation head on

Tony Cade
HunterNet Co-operative Limited
During 2014, we have observed a significant transformation occurring in the Hunter’s manufacturing sector. The continuing decline in the resources sector combined with strong competition from low cost imports has forced manufacturers to review their capabilities, processes, and products with a view to developing sustainable competitive advantage in new ‘niche’ markets.
Indeed, Hunter manufacturers have been implementing their own accelerated transformational programs for some time to not just survive – but to grow and prosper. This has been evidenced by the promotion over the past twelve months of many regional ‘hidden champions’ that have dispelled the traditional myths relating to business development inhibitors. It is true that Australia may be a high cost country but experience shows this has not been an inhibitor for manufacturing in European countries.
Looking forward, improving our manufacturing sectors competitiveness will be driven by industry in collaboration with research institutions and government. During October 2014, the Prime Minister announced the Industry Growth Centres Initiative aimed at improving competitiveness and productivity and accessing global supply chains.
The initiative will focus on the following sectors:
1. Food and Agribusiness.
2. Mining Equipment, Technology and Services.
3. Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals.
4. Advanced Manufacturing
5. Oil, Gas and Energy Resources.
What has resonated with Hunter manufacturers is that the same areas of focus are currently being advanced via the implementation of the 2013 / 2014 HunterNet Business Plan endorsed by members in April 2014. Hunter manufacturers have not waited to be led – they are leading the way!
In the future I have no doubt that Hunter and Central Coast manufacturers will be world recognised as competitive, innovative, and customised contributors to global supply chains. It is a transformation that has to happen – too much is at stake.
For further information call HunterNet on (02) 0 4908 7380, email or visit
Tony Cade
Is CEO of HunterNet. He was previously Group General Manager of Veolia Environmental Service and has also held senior positions in the Hunter Waste Planning management Board, Newcastle City Council and BHP Steel.