Precision metal packaging manufacturer Jamestrong celebrated 30 years of making aerosol cans and a 2.7 billion can production milestone at its Taree, NSW site last week. CEO Alex Commins says the company remains committed to preserving manufacturing in regional towns.
The Jamestrong Taree plant, originally known as Containers Packaging, was first commissioned in 1991 and today employs 75 people and produces 100 million aerosol cans per year at the site.
Jamestrong CEO Alex Commins put some stats behind the company’s significant contribution to regional NSW in his address to guests at the staff and family event held in the Kolondong Industrial Park.
“Since commissioning the plant in March 1991 the operation has processed 75,000 tons of aluminium, produced approximately 2.7 billion cans, paid $248 million in wages, spent $208 million in local expenses, spent $65 million on utilities and employed 489 people,” Commins said.
“In late 1987 the Taree Council decided that attracting industry to the town was a priority,” he said, going on to relay the history of how the loss of Taree's young adult population to the big capital cities and high unemployment prompted the Council to form the Manning Development Board. Made up of around ten local industry, government, and business leaders, the Board in collaboration with the CES, TAFE and local industry, set about attracting investment and industry to the region.
“The Manning Development Board and Council were great visionaries as many companies did relocate from regions including Metropolitan Sydney to what they called ‘Taree – The Civilised Escape’,” Commins said.
“The Council knew, as did the Manning Development Board, the profound positive impact business can have on a community, a local economy, and indeed a family. Containers Packaging, (now Jamestrong), not only heard, but answered the call to relocate to the ‘Taree – the Civilized Escape’ and made plans to head to Taree from Penrith in Sydney. Most importantly, Taree offered a stable, reliable and loyal workforce.”
Commins related how in March 1991 Containers Packaging (now Jamestrong) spent $10 million relocating its aluminium aerosol manufacturing operations from Penrith to Taree to the site where it continues to operate.
Included in that $10 million set-up was a $3 million investment in a state-of-the-art German/Swiss can manufacturing line that is still in operation today.
“Several skilled tradesmen made the lifestyle change and moved along with some of the existing kit, and Containers Packaging set about training local tradespeople in the can making process. Rob Chapman being one of them, still with our business today,” Commins said.
Noting that Taree is no longer the manufacturing powerhouse it once was, Commins said, “If there’s any good that’s come out of the pandemic, it is Australia realising just how precious local supply of manufactured goods are.”
He said the Jamestrong management team last year made a submission to Scott Morrison’s Manufacturing Covid Commission to assist the government to understand where the roadblocks and challenges are for all stakeholders.
“We are passionate about the preservation and growth of manufacturing in our great country and in great regional towns like Taree. We are hopeful that the Australian government can redouble its efforts to revive manufacturing and regenerate the vital contribution the sector makes to our GDP and way of life,” Commins said.
He thanked the employees for their dedication to the business as well as major customers Unilever, PAX Ensign and Moorebank which he said have been long and loyal supporters of the Taree operation.
“We remain vigilant to continue to provide you with innovation, and a great product with first class service. And we look forward to collaborating more on recycling, and focusing on incorporating post consumer recycled waste in our cans, so together we can jointly reduce our global carbon footprints.”