Seeley International Imagineering Award
Seeley International ImagineeringAward Recipients
2022 - Michael Clayton
With an engineering degree and after twelve years’ experience as an engineer in a competitor rubber business Michael joined Derby Rubber as General Manager and was promoted to Chief Executive Officer within 5 years. In this new role he demonstrated foresight and courage in moving Derby Rubber’s factory from Sydney to Adelaide. At this time he implemented an intelligent process cooling water system that reduced energy and water consumption by 80% while in the steam-curing system he developed an autoclave control system that reduced cycle times, was safer for operators, reduced production odour and introduced significant other efficiencies through factory floor data reporting. He has big plans for the future. It was this commitment to collaboration, industry 4.0 uptake and innovating business models, products and processes to improve efficiencies and global competitiveness that made Michael stand out from a strong field.
The Seeley International Imagineering Award is named after the highly innovative “Imagineering Division” which keeps developing world leading air conditioning breakthroughs that allow Seeley to dominate its markets. The award is funded through a generous monthly donation to the Industry Leaders Chairman’s Foundation provided and arranged by Frank Seeley AM, DUniv Flin, FAICD.
The donations will provide an additional top up to the standard grant amount that would be offered for a Scholar who most satisfies the eligibility criteria and build a corpus which could, provided agreed conditions were met, fund the grant in perpetuity.
All applicants for an ILF grant will be eligible for the Seeley International Imagineering Award, provided they satisfy the following criteria:
- They must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- They must be proposing to undertake a course offered by an Australian based educational body that is relevant to their leadership development. The course could include an offshore component provided it is offered as part of an Australian course.
- They will have demonstrated an innovative engineering approach in a manufacturing business in their career to date, or
- The ILF Board concludes they are most likely to do so in their career in the future.
The Award will be given to a suitable applicant assessed by the Board of the ILF in its absolute discretion. If the Board does not consider there is a suitable applicant in any year, no award will be made.
The ILF will advertise and promote the award recipients through appropriate media channels, a website honour board, the ILF brochure and in appropriate displays.
About Frank Seeley AM, DUniv Flin, FAICD
Frank founded Seeley International – now Australia’s leading manufacturer of heating and cooling systems – in the early 1970s. After selling portable evaporative coolers, Frank decided to start manufacturing them himself – and to build them better… much better.
The biggest problem at that time was the issue of corroding metal parts. Frank’s epiphany was to develop the world’s first-ever all-plastic cooler. While most people told him it couldn’t be done, Frank persisted. He began in his garage at home in suburban Adelaide, South Australia, and from there he set up a manufacturing operation which produced 1,000 coolers in the first year. After successfully developing the first all-plastic portable coolers, Frank went on to develop the world’s first all-plastic rooftop coolers. This wasn’t just a breakthrough for Seeley; it was a breakthrough for the entire industry. The all-plastic coolers were the catalyst to grow the domestic rooftop cooling market in Australia from 12,000 coolers each year to around 70,000.
The plastic coolers became, and remain, the industry standard. Today, Seeley International employs more than 500 people, has manufacturing operations at Lonsdale, South Australia and Albury, New South Wales, sales offices in each mainland state, as well as in the USA and throughout western Europe, and exports to more than 120 countries. Seeley’s brands are all market leaders in their field in Australia – and several of them, right around the world – in evaporative cooling and ducted gas heating.
Frank is committed to the rebirth of Australian consumer products manufacturing and has a philosophy of vertical integration. This means that most of the components built into Seeley International products are made right here in Australia.
One of the key drivers behind Seeley International’s success has been Frank’s commitment to the continual promotion of excellence in all that it does. Another is his catch-cry – “If enough of us keep right on innovating and automating, then there’s a huge and prosperous future for the Australian manufacturing industry!”
The secret to the success of Seeley International is the Lonsdale based “Imagineering Division” where a small highly skilled innovative and dedicated team headed personally by Frank continue to make seemingly impossible breakthroughs that ensure Seeley’s products are market leaders for the world, just as Frank did in the 1970’s, developing the first all plastic air cooler.
He has faced adversity many times – including economic crisis and having his business completely destroyed by fire – twice – but still makes a significant contribution to the community. Frank and his wife, Kathy (also a director of Seeley International), are heavily involved in church and charitable work. Frank not only donates thousands of dollars each year to worthy causes but also encourages others to do the same.