Reliable and flexible
Patrick Charles Pty Ltd (PCPL) is a wholly Australian-owned company that specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of equipment for the treatment of water and wastewater. Since forming in 1987, they have amassed an extensive knowledge base and have supplied world-class water treatment solutions to clients across Australia and around the globe.
“We tend to earn the loyalty of clients wherever we go,” says John O’Loughlin, Managing Director of the company. “We do what we do very well, and our clients recognise that.”
Before forming PCPL, John came from a science background, and his partner, John Rasmus, from a contracting background. They met while working for a family business that was subsequently shut down and sold by the owners, and first teamed up when they decided to take that business over. At the time, the industrial water treatment industry was in its infancy in Australia, but John and his partner could see the potential.
At the start, PCPL was formed to work as agents for some US and European gear. After several years of earning on-the-ground experience, however, they started developing their own equipment, which they proceeded to produce and market.
Since then, PCPL have developed a range of new products, and organically entered the export market. Today, they export to roughly 15 countries across the globe, including South Korea, several countries in South America, several countries in the United Kingdom, as well as Saudi Arabia, India, Nigeria, the Ukraine and more. John estimates roughly 40 per cent of their turnover comes from exporting.
Over the years, PCPL has designed and supplied equipment for a diverse group of clients, ranging from local producers and small municipalities, to some of the world’s largest blue-chip corporations. Their clients have included food processors, dairies, abattoirs and tanneries, sugar mills, wineries, distilleries, fruit processors, oil refineries, chemical producers, power generators, and a lot more.
No matter who the end user is, however, PCPL is set apart by their reliability. In their history as a company, they have completed thousands of installations, and their equipment has time and time again proven to be efficient, cost competitive and robust.
Generally, PCPL’s clients – which include both end users and consulting engineers – approach them, and not the other way around. Oftentimes, clients will contact PCPL during the greenfield design phase of one of their plants. Other times, if a plant is not performing particularly well, a client will call up PCPL to see if they have any solutions.
“Basically, we do a lot of free consulting for clients,” John jokes. “We try and help them with their new plants, or their existing plants, by selling them our gear. And because we’re fairly small, we try to be as flexible as possible.”
PCPL is also set apart by their consistent quality. All of their manufacturing is done in Australia by a key group of suppliers, who they work with closely, and who they can trust to keep a close eye on quality standards.
“Quality is very important to us,” John says simply. “That’s why it’s important that our relationships with all our suppliers are longstanding – we’ve been working with one of our newest ones for 15 years. And we like to keep everything local, so we can drive to pretty much all of their facilities. There’s an enormous amount of skill here in Australia and we like taking advantage of that.”
PCPL’s history of providing reliable water treatment solutions both domestically and abroad has not gone unnoticed by the industry at large. At the 2012 Premier’s NSW Export Awards, for example, the company was named as a finalist in the Small Business Award category.
John credits that industry attention to the hard work he and his team have put in to get this far. The company only employs a small group of people directly, and John says their talent and dedication is why PCPL has been successful.
“We’ve done it ourselves from scratch, and we’ve managed to export to many varied places without any great assistance up until this time,” he says. “We’re only a small business, but we’ve managed to go to some exciting places and get involved in some high profile jobs.”
He also credits the award recognition to the usefulness of their equipment. PCPL builds equipment to be as energy-efficient as possible, and helps their clients to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions and potentially meet their regulatory requirements.
“There are a number of bottom-line benefits involved in what we do,” he explains.
Moving forward, John says that PCPL will continue to provide those benefits to clients – hopefully on larger and more interesting jobs as time goes on. During the London Olympics, for example, the company’s UK distributor was hired to install temporary aeration units in the canal that went around the Olympic Stadium. Those units helped remediate the water, so when the Olympics were finished, the canal was “nice and clean,” John says.
“We like being involved in interesting projects like that,” he explains. “And we like seeing our equipment succeed overseas. We’d like to continue making a name for ourselves in the export market.”
“We want to be the model of a small successful company,” he concludes. “We don’t want to do too much, but we want to do what we do very well, and we want to keep improving. We think that’s the way forward.”