90 years of iconic Australian kitchen brand Laminex: a look back

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90 years of iconic Australian kitchen brand Laminex: a look back

In suburban Melbourne in 1934, Robert Sykes started Laminex in a small tin shed. Over the years, this business grew to be one of Australia’s leading manufacturers. While the iconic Australian brand has grown a lot over nine decades, their ethos has always remained the same – the belief that every Australian deserves great quality products with great quality design.

The evolution of Laminex began after World War II, when Sykes was captivated by a new trend appearing overseas for decorative laminates. He travelled to the US to research the fabrication and began producing Australia’s first interior décor product range in the early 50s. With Australia’s cities booming, new house builds thriving and a demand for affordable furniture escalating, Sykes’ foresight to innovate was astute.

Advertising from 1950

The Cheltenham plant in Victoria was established in 1952, which featured a cutting edge hydraulic press to enable rapid production processes and an expansion of the product range to meet market demand and improve revenues. It was here that Laminex became the only producer of thin high-pressure and more recently compact laminates in Australia and New Zealand – which still stands today.

For the past 90 years, Laminex have consistently set the benchmark for material innovation, leading to an extensive product range that has expanded to include modern laminates, acrylic surfaces, wall panelling products and more. For many Australians, Laminex products have been a fundamental part of their households – bringing durability, functionality, and personality to the heart of the home.

This year, Laminex commemorates a remarkable 90-year journey. This significant milestone is a celebration of the evolution of being the very fabric of Australian design. Over the past nine decades, Laminex have created a range of innovative and diverse brands that are serious multi-taskers, leading the way in expert quality, design-led materials for contemporary living. With an extensive portfolio across Laminex, Formica, Surround by Laminex and HI-MACS, there is a carefully curated product for everyone and every space.

The success of Laminex products can be attributed to an ongoing focus on product and manufacturing innovation, and a pursuit of continuous improvement, elevating performance across its entire spectrum of operations. Throughout the company’s 90 years in business, Laminex has continually adapted, reinvesting in the skills, safety, performance, and capacity of its plants through new equipment, training, and development.

Today, Laminex is a leading Australian manufacturer, supplier and distributor of premium decorative surfaces, substrates and products, manufacturing 97% of their products right here in Australia. With the current climate calling Australia’s dependence on overseas manufacturing into question, Laminex continues their commitment to local manufacturing. A vital part of the Australian economy, manufacturing is Australia’s seventh largest industry for employment and accounts for over a million jobs.

Laminex’s network of Australian manufacturing plants covers seven locations across four states. In Cheltenham, Laminex makes high pressure laminate, compact laminate, and wet-area panelling. A few hours west in Ballarat, a regional Victorian town, Laminex make decorated MDF used for cabinetry doors as well prefinished doors and benchtops, in Bathurst NSW, a range of partitioning and locker systems, and over in Dardanup WA and Gympie QLD, raw particleboard and MDF is manufactured.

“As a proudly Australian owned and operated company for 90 years, local manufacturing is paramount to us at Laminex,” says Sacha Leagh-Murray, general manager of sales and marketing. “It is evident now more than ever that manufacturing in Australia is crucial to the success of our economy, with the added advantage of shorter supply times, greater opportunity for quality control and the ability to support local communities and create more jobs for Australians.”

Another significant attribute to the growth of Laminex, is their advancement and unwavering commitment to sustainability. As one of Australia’s biggest manufacturers of wood and paper products, Laminex is dedicated to embedding sustainability throughout their production. Pioneering positive change in the industry, Laminex is consistently progressing on its journey to redefine industry standards. In 2005, Laminex was the first Australian manufacturer to have products supported by a Green Star rating, setting a precedent for environmentally responsible manufacturing. They became the first in their category to achieve Global GreenTag certification, a globally recognised certification for superior eco products.

Laminex has proactively reduced its energy consumption and environmental footprint through the implementation of several solar farms at strategic manufacturing sites, including Gympie Toolara, Bathurst, and Ballarat. The work done by Laminex to reduce the environmental impact of its product has continued to drive the category forward in the Australian market, and Laminex proudly reaffirms its commitment to sustainability, having recently launched their Positive Progress campaign, unveiling a future-focused sustainability strategy. The campaign signifies the company’s resolve to drive positive change within Australia’s building and manufacturing sector, as Laminex strives for a greener, healthier future.

The quest to improve and streamline production continues today. Laminex now has multiple large-scale manufacturing plants in city and country locations right around Australia, that support local communities and invest in skills development across numerous regional areas. Product quality, durability and consistency continue to be the cornerstone of Laminex, with the manufacturing process carefully monitored from raw materials to finished product. These days, production is aided by robotics, and Automated Solutions Australia (ASA) partnered with Biesse Australia to provide Laminex significant benefits through an automated system designed to improve material.

90 years on, Laminex take pride in knowing their customers can take comfort in the fact that the Laminex products used in their home are not only design-led and durable, but also support the Australian economy and are backed by incredible sustainable credentials. The design world may be forever evolving, but one thing that remains the same is Australia’s love for Laminex – it isn’t just owned and manufactured in Australia; it’s loved in kitchens, bathrooms and beyond, nationwide.

For more on today’s Laminex

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