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News

Spotlight on Pete Miller inventor of Lockie

February 16, 2017
SA manufacturing

From its humble beginnings as a crude prototype, there was never any doubt that Peter Millers “Lockie” would not succeed.

Cresta were lucky to meet Pete at the beginning of his journey, and we have been there every step of the way from prototype tooling, crash testing, seat belt testing, printing advice, working to Australian standards and guidelines, and included a working meeting with Minister Christopher Pyne. We wanted the government to offer more support and even grants to assist small ideas become big ones.

Peter was always going to ensure that his product would be 100% South Australian made. Every single supplier involved in the process is based in Adelaide. From packaging at Hands On SA, printing at Cutler Brands, to moulding at Cresta Plastics.  There is a feeling of pride in knowing that you played a small part in making this happen.

Many hours were spent trialing alternative materials and colour’s to get this product right. If we need some advice, we’re certainly not opposed to bringing in the specialists to offer advice on what will work.

Last year InfaSecure signed a contract with Peter to sell his product along with their fine range of child seat restraints. We all worked very hard to convince the big players that the tooling and manufacturing could be done in SA and at a competitive price. When we compared apples to apples, yes the tooling quote in China was cheaper; however, the moulding price certainly stacked up.

We are extremely proud of the relationship that we have built with Pete over the past 18 months, and to see the product moving into overseas markets leaves a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Once the product is launched, the support does not stop there. Our door is always open, and the kettle is only a click away for coffee a chat. From glues to thinners, thermal image labels to warehousing the product, we are always here to support, listen, and help in any way that we can.

The level of support we have offered Pete over the last couple of years has developed into a mentoring program. Last month Pete met with some of our new clients to offer his assistance and knowledge in the areas of patents and contract negotiations. The mentoring was extremely beneficial to our new customers, who are now catching up with Pete for help as needed.

This type of assistance is invaluable when you are on the road to launching your own product.

We know that the assistance and support we can offer to new start-ups is valuable and can put you in the best position to make the right choices so that your project can succeed in the marketplace.

How did you come up with the idea for the Lockie?

Well, I’ve been working in child car restraints for over 13 years and it’s always bothered me that car seats naturally come loose in cars and all the devices currently available to keep seat belts firm have been pretty cumbersome to use. One Sunday morning I was having a sleep in and thought, “why clamp the seat belts like every other product does when you can wedge it instead?…”

 

What was your background?

I have an IT background as a project manager and a business analyst but more recently I’ve owned or managed nursery retail stores. I’m also a qualified child restraint professional and trainer.

 

How did you get started with Cresta?

It was truly fun; if you ever come up with an idea it’s easy to become too close to it, to the point where you can’t actually see its faults. I just found Cresta in a Google search and gave them a call. When I first met with Cresta Plastics I had absolutely no idea on how to do anything in regards to injection moulding. I just showed Narelle my idea and at that moment she was immediately excited about my product.

 

How did you find the process? Were Cresta helpful?

 Brilliant. Cresta held my hand along the way, from design to finding a toolmaker, to production. Seriously it was incredible. Good people give great service which makes for a great product. You’d never get support like this overseas – or interstate for that matter.

 

How long did it take you from initial concept – to finished product?

 13 months. Exceptionally fast. Having a partner like Cresta meant we could play with materials and design concepts quickly. If there was a problem with tooling we knew about it within 24 hours of delivery which sped up the process immensely.

 

Who else has helped along the way?

 South Australia is an amazing place with so many clever and experienced people in manufacturing. Narelle has a hit list of ‘who’s who in the zoo’ when it comes to anything and many of these people have been involved in the project. It’s funny, as soon as you say to someone, “I’m making a new product that’s going to be purely South Australian”, you suddenly have a company on board who wants you to succeed. I’ve been so lucky to have the support of Cresta Plastics, Kersbrook Tooling, Custom Cartons, Keystone Printing, Cutler Brands, Cavan Corrugated Products and Hands on SA in this project.

 

Have you received any government grants? Why?

 Sadly, no. I’m not sure why but that’s a thing of the past. One day I hope this will change, especially if we can take our product overseas.

 

During the process you were at times asked to go overseas for tooling and moulding, why didn’t you?

 It’s a simple equation if you think about it; you can’t keep jobs here in SA unless you support companies that provide jobs in SA. But forgetting about this, manufacturing overseas means foreign exchange, customs duties, quality issues, concerns about contaminants, language barriers, development delays and potential IP theft. Manufacturing here in SA avoids all these risks at similar moulding cost to that of going overseas in my case. You see, Cresta uses solar panels to power their factory and this makes them extremely competitive. 

 

What has been the biggest hurdle to overcome?

 Getting to that point where you know you have ‘something’ of an idea – but to go further means you have to risk your own money. You can’t be blindsided by what you think is a good idea when perhaps it isn’t. But you also have to be prepared to back yourself and take the risk when perhaps you may get nothing in return. It really is a balancing act that takes a lot of objective thinking.

 

If you could go back and do anything differently, would you?

 Seriously, there’s very little I’d change. I’m fortunate that the errors I’ve made have not been showstoppers. Whether that’s luck or good fortune I’m not sure…

 

What advice would you give to up and coming entrepreneurs?

 Don’t get too emotional. Think not only about what it could be, but also what can happen if it isn’t. Then, after all your considerations, if you think you have a good idea, run with it. Start small, grow and learn along the way.

 Oh, and have a lot of fun and make sure you enjoy the people you work with along the way. People naturally want you to succeed if you take them along with you. Success is even more enjoyable when you can share it with the people that helped you get there.

 

What are your goals and or plans for the future with this product?

 First stop, Australia and New Zealand. We want to prove the product before trying for the overseas market. We have to earn our stripes here first though…