Is this one of the Gold Coast’s coolest companies?
From a simple factory in Currumbin to a multi-million dollar business at Ormeau, PWR Advancing Cooling Technology has the motor and aerospace industries all revved up.
PWR polishing plate
There’s a succinct sign in the office of PWR founder Kees Weel’s Ormeau office which states: “Most people see things as they are and say why. We dream of things that never were and say why not?”
And this slogan has served Weel well, progressing from handmaking his first copper and brass radiator in 1982, to being awarded the 2021 Australian Performance Automotive Industry “Australian of the Year”.
The Weel family business has spent almost 30 years involved in manufacturing products for the automative cooling industry, with Kees starting from a humble small factory in Currumbin in 1987.
PWR Founder Kees Weel
These days, their multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at Ormeau includes a controlled atmosphere brazing furnace, computer numerical control machines, a machine shop, research and development and design department.
PWR provides world-class cooling solutions by manufacturing high performance aluminium radiators, intercoolers and oil coolers for race car cooling solutions.
Leading race categories and teams include F1, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and World Rally Championship.
PWR was named after Paul Weel Radiators – Paul being Kees’ son and a former V8 driver.
PWR Chief Financial Officer Martin McIver
PWR Chief Financial Officer Martin McIver said one of the most exciting projects on which the company was currently working was in the aerospace industry.
“We are doing a whole range of different programs for customers. We’ve been in the aerospace market in earnest for the past three years building a reputation globally,” he said.
“One of the key ones is electric lift helicopters which are the future of air taxis or Ubers in the sky.
“We are involved in a range of cooling systems and heat exchanges and working with battery cooling and onboard cooling systems for atmospheric control for passengers.
“There’s even talk that air taxis services will be ready in time for the Brisbane Olympics. It is certainly a new area we are excited to be involved in.
“We relish pushing the boundaries and going into new areas for cooling.”
PWR MMX Department
McIver said PWR was also involved in hydrogen fuel cell cooling for power units for planes.
And this company is flourishing, with a staff of 340 at its Ormeau headquarters and a total of 500 employees globally, its turnover in the past year has increased by 27.6 per cent to $101 million.
Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, its market cap is worth $888 million.
“We are a quiet achiever focused on delivering value to our customers,” he said.
“It’s all about how can we focus our efforts and deliver on performance.”
PWR Sheetmetal Department
McIver said the Gold Coast was the ideal location from which to run PWR’s head office which also has offices in the UK and North America.
“We are quite a flexible manufacturing business which involves skilled labour from school leavers to experienced engineers and it is important that we have access to a pool of people from various backgrounds,” he said.
“Being where we are it’s a really good location for drawing from the Gold Coast and Brisbane. The industrial strip through Ormeau and Yatala certainly attracts a good amount of skilled people.
“The City of Gold Coast values businesses that diversity the Gold Coast economy and supplement the tourism side by having a manufacturing side.
“It is also a great place for staff to work and live. We have a considerable amount of interest from the UK and elsewhere. When people realise they can live on the Gold Coast it is very attractive.
“Being on the edge of the M1 we are on the freight corridors and can access Gold Coast and Brisbane airports as well as the Port of Brisbane which is convenient.
“In the industrial hub of Ormeau/Yatala there is an increasing amount of local suppliers and their capability is increasing all the time. It is quite an exciting area and cutting edge when it comes to manufacturing.”
Machinist career development
McIver said PWR had benefitted from state and government funding for projects including a CT scanner allowing full vision inside parts to ensure manufacturing is of operational standard, as well as a 3D aluminium printer for intricate parts.
Future plans for the company were being driven by four pillars:
- Continue manufacturing for global motorsports’ events out of Australia
- The development of programs for high-end vehicles for car manufacturers
- Delivery on the performance “after market” for those who wished to upgrade or refurbish their car cooling systems
PWR is also heavily focused on its internal culture offering free breakfast, morning tea and lunch – there are four lunch sittings – for its staff through two in-house chefs.
“It is something we take pride in and allows people to mix at mealtimes and it is a nice addition which sets us apart,” McIver said.
“Kees has established this culture from day one. We often say you can feel the culture of the organisation coming out of the walls.
“We also have a big focus on training and helping people break into the manufacturing industry and develop a trade. We employ more than 40 apprentices and we encourage everyone to come into the business.
“There is no qualification needed apart from having a can-do attitude and being keen to learn.”