Trafalgar History

A history by John Rakic, Owner & Managing Director of Trafalgar Group of Companies

Who of us would have thought, that all those years ago in 1945 when Trafalgar Products Australia was formed that the respect that comes with the “Trafalgar” brand would be as strong as it is today?

I think I know the answer to this……..Alex or “Lex” Graham, the original owner and founder of Trafalgar Products.

The strength of the brand is characterised by its stubborn ability to survive especially after the passing of Lex and the subsequent and first sale of the Group of Companies in the late 1990’s.

As the owner of Fire Containment Pty Ltd, formed after the acquisition in May 2009 of some key assets and intellectual property, along with the rights to the “Trafalgar” trademark in key and historical product areas, it is my humble pleasure to be able to help carry on the Trafalgar tradition.

Today, it is great to see Trafalgar going back to being a proudly Australian owned and operated business; a truly family business, just like it started out all those years ago.

Made in Australia, was a big part of Trafalgar’s heritage and the re-establishment of Trafalgar Manufacturing facilities at Granville NSW and ongoing investment will ensure that this should be the case for years to come. What better way to control quality, reduce lead times and improve service than to make it in your own backyard!

The original sale of Trafalgar Products

In the late 1990’s, after some years of problems arising from the sad passing of Lex Graham, the Trafalgar operations were sold to Tyco. This operation became part of a bigger and growing operation known as Tyco Building Products.

This was really the start of the lack of focus on all things Trafalgar.

The First Aid operations were sold off soon after the Tyco take-over and the rest of the business was moved from the old Revesby (Sydney) factories, initially into Punchbowl (Sydney) and later into Villawood (Sydney). Regional operations were closed and like many take-overs in that era, key people were not looked after and moved onto green pastures.

Without any true focus and a little lost in the quagmire of other acquisitions by Tyco in the Building Products area, the strength of the Trafalgar brand perpetuated and cabinets, access panels and other Trafalgar products continued to be made and sold and bought.

 

Trafalgar Building Products and the Norfolk Group

In 2004, Tyco Building Products, incorporating “Trafalgar” and many other companies were acquired by the Norfolk Group.

This was the second time that Trafalgar had been sold (excluding First Aid which was now a separate and different entity).

The Norfolk Group had to find a new name for the Building Products Group of Companies and chose “Trafalgar” to become Trafalgar Building Products. The decision was probably an easy one as the Trafalgar brand they owned and purchased had so much pedigree and this decision reinforces the strength in the brand and name.

This was the start of a serious connection between Trafalgar and the wider field of passive fire protection, albeit Trafalgar was the first to develop a fire rated access panel more than 40 years before this which is one of the many products that form part of passive fire protection.

Norfolk was keen to float its new operations and as part of this process redeveloped the Trafalgar logo into a new modern look which is still used today with the characteristic three (3) “A’s” and the orange flame, and they created the call cry www.trafalgarfire.com.au and our well known 1800 888 714 phone number.

The Trafalgar Building Products factory at Villawood was very poorly managed and had endless industrial relations issues, so in 2006 it was sold as it was thought these industrial issues were bad publicity and might jeopardise the valuation as part of the proposed float. This decision was like cutting the umbilical cord as the factories are a key ingredient to the success of Trafalgar as history had showed.

In May of 2009, Norfolk Group sold its assets and trademarks and the rights to the “Trafalgar” heritage to me (John Rakic).

Earlier that year it also closed the Trafalgar Fire Door factories and they sold off their E Core fire door core technology to another party.

In 2011, the former factory at Villawood, known under the new ownership as A&A Fabrications went into voluntary administration and Trafalgar Products acquired some equipment and the old and trusty brand of Brodie, well known to the industry for metal door frames.

Court proceedings

Another sign of the value of the Trafalgar brand were Supreme Court proceedings we had to initiate against another party who took it upon themselves to try and capitalise on our heritage by calling themselves Trafalgar Fire & Safety. These proceedings were settled and there is only one rightful owner of Trafalgar Products and the Trafalgar brand for passive fire protection, access panels, cabinets and the like; that is us.

Please note that Trafalgar First Aid remains a separate entity and together we share the same founder and heritage.

Innovation comes natural

People in the industry have been calling Trafalgar to solve problems for over 60 years. So it is very easy to be innovative and problem solve if you listen to what your customers and potential customers and their customers actually want and need.

At Trafalgar we love innovation and thrive on challenges.

We spend in excess of $750,000 per annum, as a Group, on product development and research and development initiatives and with the assistance of Aus Industry we are proud to hire development staff and to be inventing and developing new products each and every year.

No problems are too big or too small or too hard for us; so challenge us.  It just has to make commercial sense!

Where to from here?

We want to further develop the Trafalgar Group operation, building upon the rebuilding we have started since 2009 and further utilising our factories and manufacturing prowess to grow our product offerings and further service our growing and loyal customer base.

We look forward to you coming on this journey with us and I can see “Lex” smiling down on us from above with pleasure as we rebuild and operate Trafalgar like he did; a proud Australian owned and operated private family Group of Companies.

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Contact the Trafalgar Customer Service team for further information or fill in the message form to obtain a quote.

 

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