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Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Many business owners and managers dream about it: dramatic increases to productivity and big reductions in operational and business expenses. Any accountant will tell you that it’s either drive the ‘top line’ up or do something about your expenses to help with the ‘bottom line’. Doing both at once seems so unachievable that many people don’t bother to get started, instead opting to just keep ‘working hard’, putting up with business problems and plug as many holes they can with the fingers they have left.

It DOESN’T have to be this way. Improvement IS NOT a pipe dream. It CAN be done.


Consolidated Plastics & Epoxy Pty Ltd (CPE) has been a key client of Demarken Group since late 2018. When Demarken were initially engaged, CPE was going ok and maintained a solid foothold within the marketplace as the leader in engineering plastics, rubber and industrial flooring solutions.

While the business performance was reasonable, it was not without its fair share of problems. Challenges such as the Global Financial Crisis and mining downturns, combined with rapid growth periods had created a degree of instability in operations, a significant amount of ongoing daily inefficiencies and frustration for everyone. The monthly figures had seemed to become ‘capped’ with an inability to be able to consistently break through that glass ceiling. With large growth opportunities on the doorstep, dramatic change was necessary if the business was going to be able to take these next steps without falling over.

So, what were the problems and what was done about them?

“We are just nowhere near as organised as we need to be” was a consistent theme coming from all levels of the business. Owners, managers and shop floor personnel could see the opportunities ahead but were completely frustrated with the amount of problems being encountered related to communication, information sharing, workflow, teamwork and systems integration. With the business on an ‘operational Hamster wheel’ there was only enough time to work harder and faster and no sign of things stopping. And we all know what happens to the Hamster in the end…

With Demarken Group’s support and using the concept of the ‘Business Gearbox®’, CPE commenced a transformational change process focused first on stabilising daily operations and synchronising the team around what needed to be done, by who and by when. If this seems quite simple and obvious, then you’re 100% correct. However, getting this core problem solved was another matter and the business needed to get help to do it.

Demarken Group first set-about completely understanding what THE WORK is and how it needed to be done. Time was spent with the team living and breathing the daily internal processes with a view to identifying how THE WORK needed to happen, the information flows around those activities, the skills, tools and equipment needed to do the work, the typical problems experienced and how they needed to be managed, the level of quality required and how leadership needs to play its part to ensure all this happens as it is supposed to. With this picture in mind, and with Demarken’s expert knowledge of business operations and continuous improvement, CPE then implemented critical improvements that would soon become the centrepiece of their operations, forever.

“Since the start of 2019, we have seen a massive step-change in business performance”.

Matt Kennett is General Manager of CPE and is very open to talking about both the past and the future performance of the company.

“Through the implementation of solutions like Flight Deck® and focusing on the most important things that keep us organised every hour of every day, we are now consistently achieving 25% productivity improvement compared to before, month after month, he said. “The thing that I am most proud of, and keep reminding myself and the team about, is that this is being achieved with net less people than we had before.

Matt explains.

“We haven’t cut any roles, but a couple of people left, and we haven’t replaced them yet. We’ve now proven that we can perform really well if we get ourselves organised around the work. It’s been fantastic, and there is still more we can do to improve. That’s the scary thing.”

The change at CPE has been quite dramatic. Compared to when Demarken first arrived, there is a noticeable difference in how organised the team is. Sure, there are still a lot of opportunities to do things better and the odd big problem from time to time, however a number of the major frustrations about how well the work was being done have almost disappeared.

Dan Reponen has been with the company for around ten years. He has a lot of good things to say about his new role as Production Coordinator.

“Coming from the shop floor into leadership was a challenge, but the work we’ve been doing with Demarken is making it really easy for me to understand my role and to keep on top of what we’re supposed to be doing as well as the problems that need to be sorted out”. “I am really loving the visibility on the work and what we need to do. It’s really important”.

With daily operations now stabilising, the focus is shifting to other areas impacting directly on THE WORK. Skills and Development of People has become a major focus for the company with significant investment happening to build capability within the team and reduce problems associated with rework, quality and further improve productivity.

Owner and Director of CPE, Brendan Refalo talks about the outcomes so far.

“There are very big opportunities for our business to grow in the future and we needed to make some dramatic improvements in how we were working to be able to take these opportunities on”.

In 2018, the organisation had already been discussing a major capital investment and move into a new custom-built facility to alleviate the pain experienced across their multiple small sites.

“As an owner and investor, I needed to have the confidence that if we were to invest heavily in a new facility that the returns would be consistently there each month to realise that investment. With the improvements that we’ve seen in the last couple of years with Demarken’s support and effort from the leadership team and employees, I am very comfortable that operational performance has achieved the step-change that was needed”.

CPE’s journey over the last two years demonstrates that if you concentrate on the right things that make the money and get the team synchronised around those practices, then great things are possible. The Demarken Team and the Demarken Business Gearbox® concept isn’t just for manufacturing. We are proving that it can be applied in any type of organisation to drive improved team performance and more dollars on the bottom line with less effort, risk and frustration.

What to talk more about this? Get in contact with us.

Want to know more about CPE? You can find them on their website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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