Its roots firmly established in the Australian steel industry, Southern Steel Group has quietly and methodically grown into one of Australia’s leading business groups. The Group’s origins date back three quarters of a century in the chronological timeline of Australian industrial advancement. During its long history, Southern Steel Group has partnered with and contributed to much of Australia’s industrial journey in mining, agriculture, architecture, defence, construction and infrastructure projects.
The Group and its subsidiaries have survived and prospered through a number of economic upheavals and challenges. From the post World War II reconstruction period, the conservative approach during the Menzies period, the onset of stagflation in the 1970s, the oil crisis and an economic recession in 1974. The Group continued to prosper during the economic upheavals of the early and late 1980s and the global financial crisis of 2008. Paving the way forward through robust financial governance and properly engineered management structures, the Group continues its growth model through strategic acquisitions and the continued establishment of steel supply, processing and distribution business across Australia.
Southern Steel Supplies is established in Wollongong
The late 1940s in Australia was the beginning of the post-war boom era. Australian car manufacturing was born. A new brick home on Sydney’s North Shore cost around 150 pounds, or 15 times the average wage. Australia’s population was a tick over 7.5M and the steel industry was in its prime. Port Kembla was the steel hub of Australia and Southern Steel Supplies was established in nearby Wollongong as the first toe in the water for this remarkable business journey.
The Smaller family purchases a 50% share of Southern Steel Supplies
The 1980s was a time of enormous technological and business change. It was MTV, mobile phones, the Commodore 64 PC and 'Greed is Good'. Some of Australia’s most significant business groups were established. NAB, News Corp, Mitsubishi Motors, Cbus and other superannuation funds emerged. Rio Tinto Coal came into the market and the stock market crashed. The Smaller family made its first tactical acquisition, purchasing a half share in Southern Steel Supplies from the Williams family in 1986. By the end of the decade, the Group had established Southern Sheet & Coil (1987), acquired Surdex Steel (1988) and established Southern Steel Cash & Carry (1989).
The Smaller family acquires 100% ownership of Southern Steel Supplies
Traditional business was flipped upside down during the 1990s with the world wide web becoming accessible to everyone with a phone line. Investment in thin air projects became the norm and 'speculate' the business world’s new buzz word. Even with all the excitement, global economic growth remained relatively stagnant. Bob Hawke led the Labor Party to a fourth consecutive victory, only to be sacked by his own party 12 months later. Rap, grunge and pop couldn’t decide which genre was the best, home loan interest rates peaked at 17.5% and the Berlin Wall came down. In 1992 the Smaller family purchased the remaining 50% share in Southern Steel Supplies from the Williams family, and in 1998 established Southern Queensland Steel, broadening its east coast footprint and building toward a major expansion model that would dominate the next few decades.
Southern Steel Group expands, acquiring steel companies in NSW, SA and WA
The Y2K bug was a flop and everybody breathed easy. The 2000s saw another global crash triggered in the US. This led Australia to create the $42B infrastructure and building fund in the latter part of the decade to help ward off another recession. Aside from this road bump the decade was generally economically stable but politically restless. Australia hosted the Olympic Games in Sydney, Twitter was launched and Pluto was officially classified as a dwarf planet. For the Southern Steel Group it was a bountiful decade with the acquisition of Southern Steel Group in 2000, quickly followed by Brice Metals in 2001. In 2007 the Southern Steel Group expanded into Western Australia, acquiring WA Cutting Services and establishing Southern Steel WA the same year.
Southern Steel Group acquires and establishes a further 10 steel businesses across Australia
Technology and entertainment platforms dominated the landscape during this decade. The average Sydney house price at the start of the decade was around $650K, by the end it was close to $1.1M. Coldplay was the world's biggest band, however The Beatles still outsold them. It was a big decade for the Southern Steel Group. Ferrocut joined the Group in 2010, followed by AMP and Steelpipes in 2011. In 2012 the Group acquired RPG Australia and Australian Rollforming Manufacturers. Coil Processors was acquired in 2013 and a year later, in 2014, the Group acquired Eliott Engineering. Boyd Metal Industries was added in 2018, and in 2019 Victorian based Smithweld was purchased and Piling Solutions Australia was established in New South Wales.
Southern Steel Group continues to expand
The current decade woke up in the grip of a global pandemic. Border closures, travel restrictions and vaccinations have dominated the news cycles. Southern Steel Group continues its work, advancing its market share. In 2020, the Group acquired NSW steel business Rollco and in 2021 added Metal Shop Technics to its impressive portfolio of quality steel supply, processing and distribution networks.