Australian steel building products company Lysaght is this year celebrating 100 years of local manufacturing, an achievement that goes against the trend of offshoring that has prevailed in Australia in recent decades.
While the current Lysaght range covers roofing and walling, architectural cladding, guttering, fascia and rainwater goods, fencing and screening, steel sections, formwork and framing, patios, carports and structures, it’s corrugated iron that it’s long been known for.
This steel building product has been used on everything from the roofs and bull-nose verandas of heritage homes, through to shearing sheds and outback dunnies.
Corrugating Galvanised Iron at the original Newcastle Works.
The product’s journey to national icon status can be traced back to Britain, where entrepreneurial Irishman, John Lysaght, began galvanising corrugated steel sheeting in Bristol during 1857. He registered the product under the trademark “Orb,” which continues to be used to this day
Lysaght turned his attention to export markets, namely Australia, where he saw opportunities arising from the gold rush of the late 1800s. He began exporting to the colony soon afterwards.
Orb was first sold in Australia through independent merchants until Lysaght established his own distribution company, the Victorian Galvanised Iron and Wire Company, which acted as a central selling agency. The venture worked well and by 1913, some 80,000 tonnes of Orb had been shipped to Australia.
The next challenge the company encountered was World War I, which saw compulsory redirection of production capacity to assist the war effort, this devastated local supply and highlighted the need for a local production presence in Australia.
Within three months of the war commencing, the company (now under the direction of John Lysaght’s nephew Herbert Royse Lysaght in Australia) was making arrangements to purchase 24 acres of land in Newcastle, NSW adjacent to a site already owned by Broken Hill Pty. Co. (BHP).
By the following year in 1917, John Lysaght (Australia) Pty Ltd was formed with the intent of establishing a manufacturing site in Australia, and approximately four years later in April 1921, the new Lysaght company commenced manufacturing at its purpose-built site in Newcastle.
Lysaght general manager Peta Renkin said the company was proud of reaching the important milestone.
“For Lysaght to have reached 100 years of manufacturing in Australia is an extremely satisfying achievement for our company,” she said.
“It’s proof that there’s viability in local production – Lysaght has worked hard to develop new product lines, to innovate and to make manufacturing processes as efficient as possible while still providing premium quality products and offering superior support.
Lysaght Mini Orb.
“Of course, this achievement would not have been possible without the dedication of Lysaght employees and the ongoing support of our business partners and clients, so to all of you we say ‘thank-you’ and we look forward to the future.”
Today, Lysaght’s parent company, BlueScope, supplies it with Australia-made steel, with manufacturing (customizing, forming and profiling) of the Lysaght products overseen by skilled production technicians at more than 40 Lysaght branches nation-wide.
Along with products like Custom Orb – whose heritage can be traced back to Orb – Lysaght has continued to innovate with products including Klip-Lok and Bondek.