The Story Of Crommelins Machinery: The Business The Builders Built!



After finishing school, Terry Crommelin went to work for Elders, then Boucher Industries (selling sheds) before moving to Sydney where he took up an opportunity with Cement Aids, leaving after 2 years.

Terry tells the story that he couldn’t come back to WA empty handed, so he advertised in the paper seeking companies that wanted representation in WA, he quickly gained the agency for the Sawmaster Bench Saw. He drove one over to WA in 1958 and it was at this point that T.W. Crommelin & Co. was launched as a small machinery distributorship. Working from his trusty Holden station wagon (his portable office) and the back shed of his rented Perth home.

Terry called on building site after building site throughout Western Australia making friends and building long standing relationships along the way. As business grew, he moved to the front shop of a shoe factory in 18 Oxford Street, Leederville, WA where he quickly took over both adjoining shops, the factory behind with products often spilling onto the footpath as new machinery arrived.

Founded in 1958 by Terry Crommelin, Crommelins Machinery was initially involved in direct selling of portable and semi-portable equipment to the Building and Allied Industries in Western Australia, then expanding to all other States as new agencies were acquired and demand grew. Terry sold equipment such as Concrete Immersion Vibrators, Plate Compactors, Electric Tools and Electric Demolition Hammers.

After visiting Osaka Fair in Japan in 1964, Terry acquired the agency for Robin (Fuji Heavy Industries), the makers of Robin Subaru industrial engines. He also met with Mr J Gotto, president of Makita and was awarded the distributorship for Makita Power Tools in Australia. Business continued to boom, with a ‘try before you buy’ policy. Terry allowed the initial rental of equipment to be rebated against the purchase price if a sale was made. This strategy quickly resulted in establishing 13 branches in Western Australia, making Crommelins Machinery an early hire industry leader.

In 1968, on a trip to Holland, Terry noticed a truck picking up a steel bin full of rubble from a building site. He followed the truck in a taxi to its company and discussing with the owner about the service they provided. Upon returning to Perth, he obtained finance for two trucks and sixty bins. This became the start of Crommelins’ Bins which pioneered the skip bin form of waste disposal to the building industry and domestic market. Crommelins Hire and Waste Disposal grew to a fleet of fifteen trucks and five hundred bins over twelve years.

During the 1970’s Crommelins expanded to branches over all of metropolitan Western Australia including Victoria Park, Osborne Park, Kwinana, Fremantle and Leederville, with Kwinana servicing Mandurah and Pinjarra. In this year, Crommelins Machinery was also appointed  the Australian Distributorship of Kango electric hammers.

In 1981, Crommelins Machinery sold the Hire and Waste Disposal Services to “Wreckair” and purchased land at 139 Welshpool Road so that they could concentrate on manufacturing and assembly  of equipment to sell to the Hire and Construction Industries. Construction of the Head Office began.

On 25th August, 1982, The new Crommelins Machinery premises were built and opened to the public. Celebrations were held with many special guests invited including Mr Fuji from Fuji Heavy Industries (SUBARU Robin) and Western Australia’s Premier The Hon. Ray O’Connor. A modern marvel of the time, the building would allow Crommelins Machinery to grow and prosper.

Crommelins Machinery returned to hire in 1988, trading as “Crommelins Handyman Hire & Sales”.  This was designed to cater for the smaller end of the Hire Industry and establish sales and service outlets for the Do It Yourself (DIY) market. Depots were developed throughout the Perth metropolitan area and were owned and operated by “Licensees”.  They were situated in Bibra Lake, Joondalup, Kenwick, Malaga, Osborne Park and Wangara, with a service centre at Crommelins Machinery Head Office providing a “testing ground” for their products.

Celebrating their 40th Year in business, 1998, Crommelins Machinery invited a selection of long time dealers, hire companies, and other representatives from the industry, staff and friends. The Company presented Terry with a caricature of himself, bearing the caption “40 years strong” as well as a die cast of his first office, the infamous EJ Holden. Terry said he “felt honoured to be surrounded by so many loyal people who have helped and supported him through the years, and who he is still associated with, many as close friends.”.

With new Millenium bringing about the start of new digital age, Crommelins was proud to be associated with filmaker Larry Zetlin supplying a Dolphin Fire Fighting Pump for his documentary ‘Bundy’s Last Great Adventure’. This was a  Gulliver Media Australia production, telling of the story of a little steam engine on its last great journey through Queensland’s vast coastal sugar fields from Nambour to the Daintree wilderness.

The company enjoyed considerable success winning HRIA Supplier of the Year in 2001 and 2003. The award had been presented in recognition of the long-standing association Crommelins Machinery has with the Rental Industry and acknowledgement of ongoing support. The year also included training and expansion, with national Service Agents attending a service school, as well as research and development for Fuji Heavy Industry products.

After 45 years, on 30th June 2003, Terry Crommelin retired passing the reigns to Kevin Kennedy. Kevin had previously worked at Crommelins Machinery for nearly twenty years and eagerly accepted the role saying “It’s great to be back working with Crommelins Machinery national team. The company is enjoying considerable success at present, with many opportunities on the horizon. I look forward to my involvement in planning the next phase of the Company’s growth”. He commenced CEO responsibilities from 1st July that year.

Time for a change, in 2005 Crommelins Machinery refreshed their image with new logos, product branding, brochures, letterhead, business cards, newsletter, website and all other marketing. They also instigated Fuji Heavy Industries engines to updating their name from Robin Subaru to Subaru Robin due to the popularity of Subaru cars on the international rally scene.

Starting as one of the first major competitions to help market the name of Subaru in Australia. Crommelins Machinery ‘Start Your Engines’ was a promotion to win a Subaru Imprezza sedan. Competitions were held in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2016.

Reaping the rewards from perseverance, service and quality products, Crommelins Machinery turned 50 and continued to be leaders to the Construction and Hire Industry, employing over 30 staff with 600 Dealers & Resellers and Hire companies. Crommelins Machinery also wins the HRIA Supplier of the Year again in 2008 and 2009.

The start of one of the most prosperous times for the Building and Construction Industry, Crommelins Machinery sling shot into 2010 with a new brand image, website and brochures. Fuji Heavy Industries turns 50 and incorporates the famous 6-star Subaru logo on all products and all engines feature the 6 star logo on the recoil sticker. The updated logos and business look gave a clear message to the marketplace and put Subaru in the forefront of brand value and recognition.  All products would be instantly recognisable as coming under the valued and well-respected Subaru product umbrella. With Subaru Industrial Products still being distributed in Australia by Crommelins.

In 2015, Terry Crommelin OAM appointed Kevin Wilson as CEO, replacing the retiring Kevin Kennedy after 30 years. With over 25 years of senior management experience across a variety of industries, Kevin Wilson is looking to expand the range of products and services that Crommelins provides whilst maintaining its reputation for quality products and service.

A happy and sad year, in 2017 Terry celebrated his 90th birthday with Crommelins staff and retired employees reminiscing about the good old times. A few months later Terry Crommelin passes away peacefully surrounded by family. May he Rest in Peace.

Present Day – A new era begins. From humble beginnings selling equipment out of the back of his Holden station wagon growing to be the strong family owned business it is today, employing over 30 people many having been with the company for over 20 years. Crommelins Machinery still remains as premium hire quality brand with products predominately being built with Robin engines. In 2018, The Crommelin Group was formed as a parent company for both Crommelins Machinery and the newly acquired Pneumatic Engineering. With many more agencies and products planned, we will be kicking off the next chapter with a fresh new look.

What does the next sixty years hold? Crommelins Machinery CEO Kevin Wilson had the following to say.  “We have a responsibility to the Founder of the business, Terry Crommelin, to carry on his legacy and continue to support the industry he was so proud to be a member of. We must build on the strong foundation of entrepreneurship, innovation and quality products that he left us. We will continue to focus on our high level of customer service, bringing new products to market and providing value for money for our customers.”