Home' InDaily : January 22nd 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
January 22 - 28, 2010 resources
Engineering is flying high
after it recently won a $6
million with US-based Lockheed
From humble beginnings in a
backyard shed in 1989, precision
component manufacturer Levett
Engineering has grown to supply
componentry to the world s biggest
military aircraft program based in
Levett Engineering, which
started out as a one-man operation
in the Gawler backyard shed of
fitter and turner Paul Levett, now
turns over millions of dollars a
year, and plays a vital role in the
nine-country Joint Strike Fighter
Project for F35 aircraft.
Mr Levett completed his appren-
ticeship as a fitter and turner at the
Defence Science and Technology
Organisation in Adelaide s north.
Mal Lowen, the company s
operations and business develop-
ment manager, says the Joint
Strike Fighter Project, will see the
construction of more than 3000
aircraft and involves partners from
the US, Australia, the UK, Italy,
Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands,
Norway and Turkey. Up to 100 of
the aircraft will be delivered to
Australia in 2015.
"It s just amazing that a company
the size of ours is part of the biggest
military aircraft program in the
world," he says.
"All companies involved in the
project are highly regarded for their
innovation, honesty, quality of
workmanship and persistence."
Levett Engineering recently
won an Australian Export Award,
after winning the state title in the
Austrade and Australian Chamber
of Commerce and Industry awards.
Mr Lowen wrote the winning award
"The award is recognition of the
effort that s been put in over the
past six to seven years," he says.
"The message I want to put
out there is that to break into the
international market you have
to be persistent and have a lot of
patience. It s taken about six years
to get an order. You ve got to keep
going back and knocking on doors."
Until recently, Defence and
aerospace business accounted for
90 per cent of Levett Engineering s
work, but things have changed since
it acquired SA firm Esstek CNC
(Computer Numerical Control) late
last year. The acquisition added
17 employees and altered Levett s
Levett Engineering s business is
now split evenly between Defence
work and high-end, high-volume
commercial work in the electronics,
medical and mining fields.
The company now has 45
employees and Mr Lowen says this
is expected to grow to 100.
"We ll at least double our size
over the next three years, based
on the new business we have, the
opportunities in other areas such
as international aerospace, and
growing our national commercial
business that we just acquired," he
"We recently won a $6 million,
five-year contract with Lockheed
Martin and I expect more work to
piggyback off that contract once it
Mal Lowan and Paul Levett.
SA's Levett Engineering
soars to new heights
If the Reserve Bank board paid
attention only to Australia s
official inflation rate due for
release next week, it d put up
its feet and leave interest rates
But the December quarter
CPI, now expected to come in at
just 0.1 per cent and 1.7 per cent
for the year to December, will
scarcely figure in its calculations.
"It s the base, the starting
point, but the board s job is to
be forward looking," says La
Trobe University Professor Don
Harding, who has come up with
the 1.7 per cent forecast for the
"The board will look at it, see
there s not much inflation in the
system, say that s nice to know,
but then say the labour market
is getting tight, retail sales are
looking strong, any number of
indicators are looking strong and
we probably think inflation is
about to pick up."
The TD Securities-Melbourne
Institute inflation gauge,
compiled using the same price-
sampling methods as the Bureau
of Statistics index, is usually in
step with the bureau s.
The institute says it s accurate
to five one-hundredths of 1 per
Which puts Prof Harding in an
He believes he knows what the
official rate will be Wednesday
next week -- he believes it will
look benign, but believes the
Reserve will crank up rates again
The detail of next week s result
is likely to look particularly
Of the 90 price groups sur-
veyed by the institute last month,
an impressive 48 stayed steady,
23 increased and 19 actually fell,
hardly a sign of widespread
About half the prices meas-
ured hadn t moved in six months;
two-thirds hadn t moved in three
"By December, we almost
unwound all of the sustained
increase in inflation pressure
that had been evident in the
Australian economy for several
years," Prof Harding concludes
in his report.
Other analysts managed to
read an uptick in inflation into
Prof Harding s report.
"After a period of clear
disinflation over the year from
mid-2008, inflation has now not
only bottomed out, but early
signals suggest some emerging
upside pressure," TD Securities
economist Annette Beacher said.
CommSec economist Savanth
Sebastian said: "Price pressures,
though mild, are once again
Australia s most recent official
annual inflation rate for the
September quarter was 1.3 per
A jump to 1.7 per cent when
the December quarter figures
are released would see the rate
remain below the Reserve s 2-3
per cent target band.
as a one-man
operation. Now it's
part of the biggest
program in the world,
writes Kate Nash.
To break into the international market you
have to be persistent and have a lot of patience.
You ve got to keep going back and knocking on
-- Levett Egineering operations and development manager Mal Lowen
Keeping up with inflation
Reser ve Bank Governor Glenn
Stevens ... looking forward.
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