In 2013 SCOTT® Technology Limited celebrated 100 years in New Zealand and commissioned the well known Dunedin historian Jim Sullivan to document and write the book “Scott Technology - 100 Years of Engineering”.
For a company to still be in business on its 100th birthday is a reflection of the hard work undertaken from generations of SCOTT staff working together for a common goal.
Some brief stories from the book, which is available for purchase from SCOTT, are shared below.
1913-1932: The Beginning...
Scottish immigrant engineer John Scott, after a stint building gold dredges in the early 1900s, joined his engineer sons Andrew and John Scott in establishing a business in Leith Street, Dunedin in April 1913. J & A P Scott specialised in general repairs to gas, oil, and petrol motors and their high standard of workmanship and the motoring craze of the next ten years saw the business boom.
The company expanded with agencies for various cars like Nash and Chandler and the growing work shop carried out repairs for all makes of car. Many apprentices were taken on and several spent their working lives with J & A P Scott, thus helping to create the “family firm” atmosphere which lasted until the 1960s. One apprentice, Ken Brown, became a key man in the firm and in 1925 was sent on a 13,000-mile tour of the United States to examine the latest methods and arrange the importation of new technology. The firm’s excellent reputation led to vehicle servicing contracts with large concerns like the New Zealand Express Company, the Dunedin City Council and the Dunedin Metropolitan Fire Board. All the while the original premises in Leith St were being extended along Albany Street.
1933-1952: Challenging times...
The economic woes of the 1930s had only a limited effect on the company. Machinery was now being serviced in many Dunedin factories like Shacklock’s and Cadbury’s and work on motor cars and trucks increased. Large gears were made for the Otago Harbour Board and a fork lift for Otago Iron Rolling Mills at Green Island. Agencies for Allis-Chalmers tractors and Leyland trucks were added and the firm’s reputation for precision engineering was enhanced with new machinery.
A new generation of the Scott family joined the company to learn the ropes from the bottom up. By the late 1930s there were about 70 staff members and the range of activities included selling parts, operating furnaces, cylinder and crank grinding, die making and a dozen other jobs. As the southern representative of Motor Specialities, J & A P Scott expanded the parts department and in 1938 opened a branch in Invercargill.
At the outbreak of war the firm was supplied with precision equipment by the government and the entire operation was dedicated to making munitions, mainly mortars and bombs. New staff, including women, were “man powered” to help with the work and existing male staff found it difficult to be released when they volunteered for overseas services. After the war this experience with mass production led the company into the world of manufacturing.
1953-1972: Change in direction...
During the 1950s, while motoring work continued, the firm set up a washing machine manufacturing plant and the SCOTT washing machine (soon branded Whirlpool) became a sought-after consumer item during the 1950s boom years. The appliance industry was fiercely competitive and machines needed to be air freighted to the larger northern customer base and, with hindsight, it was felt that the SCOTT-built machines were being engineered to a higher standard than the market required.
Common sense dictated a withdrawal from the appliance market, however general engineering continued to grow. While many innovative designs were produced for a wide variety of customers, many products were one-off items and making a good profit from engineering became more difficult, while the parts department remained a steady earner. By the 1960s the Scott family connection was much diluted and some of the early staff members were now in managerial positions. One far-reaching move was the decision in 1962 to buy the long-established Christchurch engineering firm of Penfolds, thus laying the foundation for the present operation focusing on building automated production line equipment.
In Dunedin the J & A P Scott building was bought by the University of Otago and Graeme Marsh of long-established motor engineering and sales firm, Cook Howlison, bought J & A P Scott with a view to developing those parts of the company which were performing well.
1973-1992: A global success story...
Under Graeme Marsh, as part of the Donaghy’s group, SCOTT moved to new premises and focussed on the core business of designing and producing machines for industry. The design department expanded and important contracts were signed with major firms like Fisher and Paykel. The 1970s saw the growth of export orders so that by the end of the decade overseas orders were in the million dollar range.
Kelvinator of Australia, impressed by the machines being used by Fisher and Paykel, placed a large order and this prompted SCOTT to explore the American market by establishing a base in Dallas. Thus began a series of long-standing relationships with major United States manufacturers. Export orders reached more than $25 million a year and the client base extended to the United Kingdom and Europe while in New Zealand staff numbers were now about one hundred. The company was now a regular recipient of export awards. During the 1980s the use of computers in design work became universal and the company had full order books. In spite of the work available the company decided not to compromise on quality and this ensured a reputation for excellence which was valuable when overseas recessions affected the market place.
1993-2013: Growth and diversification...
During the last twenty years, SCOTT Technology has enjoyed success stories which have countered the times of uncertainty in international markets. One example is the relationship with the American range hood manufacturer, Broan. From 1992 to 2010 the company made 25 million range hoods using a SCOTT system which provided the flexibility to produce over 450 various models of hood.
Orders of up to $24 million from large manufacturers like Whirlpool established SCOTT as a major player in the international market in spite of the distance from customers. In 1997 SCOTT Technology listed on the stock exchange and shareholders have had steady returns. Exports now account for almost all the company’s income and expansion has continued by the buying into or purchasing outright several carefully-selected companies. These include ROCKLABS®, Reference Materials, HTS-110, QMT and many others as well as a range of joint ventures including Robotic Technologies (automation in the meat industry), Milktech (automation in the diary industry) and XRock in Australia, Staff now number 280 and premises in Christchurch have been expanded while, in Dunedin, a new plant was built in 2008. SCOTT also have plants in Wellington, Auckland and China. Overseas there are sales and service offices in the United States, Italy, China, Australia and South America.