Gasworld’s editor in chief Rob Cockerill, asks CEFRANK about the company…
Gasworld: Perhaps you could start by giving us a brief history of CEFRANK, its inception and the journey to the company that it is today?
CEFRANK: My father started out as a fitter and turner, as a new immigrant to Australia, and eventually became more of a contractor and trouble-shooter. When something went wrong, people would say “see Frank” because he had a good reputation in the industry for solving problems. That’s how the name of our company CEFRANK came about. CEFRANK opened in 1979 and started out as a simple contracting firm, doing maintenance and working on special projects. But Dad could see that there was a gap in the market for cylinder equipment. He began offering gas companies like BOC and Linde an alternative to their in-house equipment and eventually set his sights on developing his own brand of cylinder equipment. To stay competitive and service our expanding business and global demand, we opened a factory in Changzhou, China in 1996 which still manufactures for us today. We also established a site in 1998 in Croatia that we could use for storage and R&D. Today, the business is still run by the family but instead of operating out of Sydney, Australia we have our HQ in West Wycombe, UK.
Gasworld: You’ve expressed a lot of admiration for your father’s efforts in establishing CEFRANK and continuing to innovate through the years. What is it that you admire most, and what do you think differentiates CEFRANK from many other companies in the industry?
“Always striving to improve our approach to our product and business operations is what differentiates us from most companies, along with our specialist knowledge of compressed gas cylinder equipment.”
CEFRANK: I have the utmost respect and admiration for what my father has achieved. Single-handedly and with many obstacles, he has built and maintained a business that has and continues to support our family. I grew up witnessing what it takes to run a business; the hardships, the risk and the triumphs. But what I really admire the most is the way that Dad built his company by doing something no one had done before. He was offering a service that was typically done in-house, and then he developed a universal range of equipment that was intended for use across the industry. A superior range, that would cost less to maintain, less to ship, less to repair. But, as with most things that are different, the idea has been met with a lot of resistance. It’s Dad’s tenacity and belief in himself, his vision and his product that continues to amaze me. Einstein said that “if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.” Always striving to improve our approach to our product and business operations is what differentiates us from most companies, along with our specialist knowledge of compressed gas cylinder equipment.
Gasworld: You have previously hinted at CEFRANK’s core belief in challenging compressed gas conventions and treating packaged gases as more than just a mode of supply. Perhaps you could share with us some examples of CEFRANK’s innovations in this field?
CEFRANK: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve challenged convention from time to time. Because we filled a very niche gap in the industry, we were able to devote ourselves entirely to an area of packaged gas equipment that had, I suppose, fallen off the radar. Most gas companies just react to demand, with, understandably, a priority of simply getting their product out there. But we had and still have the unique opportunity of looking at the equipment and asking how can we improve it? How we can better protect the customer’s assets? We’ve spent years refining our products and designs and I still think that the full benefit and impact of our range is yet to hit home.
“We’ve spent years refining our products and designs and I still think that the full benefit and impact of our range is yet to hit home.”
One of our earlier innovations was the development of a modular bundle and pallet frame. The entire frame is bolted together, which means that they can be assembled, repaired and maintained with much less down time, effort and cost. You don’t need welders and special equipment and days for our equipment; you need two guys, a couple of bits of kit and a few hours. Our more recent innovations are related to the manifold. We’ve developed a number of innovations for our acetylene manifold which improve its durability and usability in the field, we’ve designed an upgrade for our standard DC manifold that means that customers can carry out repairs onsite, significantly reducing down time. But our most exciting innovation is the new DC-H2 manifold, which has a unique floating design that can be used for all gases, even flammable gases. This manifold is the first of its kind and our vision is that will become a universal piece of equipment.
Gasworld: What’s different about CEFRANK’s cylinder bundles and products?
CEFRANK: One of the key features of our range is the lightweight construction. This might seem like an insignificant feature, but think about the long-term impact of equipment that weighs almost half of the existing models. Collectively, you get a huge reduction of the impact not only in the manufacturing process, but throughout the lifecycle of the bundle; less wear and tear, less fuel and obviously, less impact on the environment. In markets like China where quantities are huge, this makes a big difference. But of course the main point of difference is our modular design. This has the potential to save our customers up to 80% on the cost of repairs and maintenance for the life of the equipment. And with our new range of modular manifolds, we can offer greater flexibility than ever before, better protection of capital investment (cylinders, gas) and a more durable product.