Kurt and Bill's story:
In 1982, my wife and I started our own tooling business from the garage of our Montrose home, she was the machinist and I the engineer. We did well, and within a year were employing six toolmakers and rented a factory. Today, it's still very much a family business. My wife ran it alongside me for 25 years and now my daughter and grandsons work with me. We have 30 employees, over half of whom have well passed their long service leave. One of the women in our team, Gabriele, has been here for 33 years and Bill, our Production Manager, has been with us for 27.
People here are very lucky to work for Kurt. He's got the mentality that he’s responsible for everyone, for their jobs and their mortgages. I’ve been making KeepCups since we created the first prototype in 2008.
I still remember when Abigail first came out to see me. I remember sitting opposite her and saying, “well it’s certainly eco-friendly. If you sell 300,000 it’s a good result.” Later, she reminded me “Kurt can you remember at the beginning when you said you’d be happy if you make 300,000? How many have you made now? Just over 1 million?”
Our tooling is still made in-house, so it’s much easier for our toolmakers to make fixes and adjustments for new product improvements and to maintain quality standards. We use our knowledge and experience to create durable tooling, built for long term use day in day out, not to go like a racehorse. We’ve got a lot of history working together with KeepCup now. We’ve had time to perfect materials and tools we use for each KeepCup component and we build on this knowledge with each new part and product.
We use robots now in some areas of the factory. The robots have improved our process and resulted in fewer rejects, saving time and resources. They haven’t replaced people’s jobs, our team instead now have more time for quality control and inspecting parts.
Working with KeepCup has helped us look at the sustainability of our own practices, from water, energy, to waste. We’ve always been very ‘green oriented’ but KeepCup has helped us go further. We use 200 – 300 tonnes of recycled material annually and have expanded our own in-house plastic recycling program to take back and recycle returned plastic products from KeepCup alongside our own factory scrap, which is either ground up and reused inhouse, or reprocessed into plastic pellets which we then mould into new products we make, and which don’t have to be food safe.
We’ve made numerous changes in the business for energy and water efficiency. We’ve replaced our injection moulders, moving from hydraulic to electric which cut our electricity use in half. We upgraded our water systems so water for all injection moulding machines and toilets now comes from harvested rainwater we collect on our roof. The only mains water we use now is for hand washing and in the kitchen. All lighting in the factory is LEDs and we’re currently exploring rooftop solar.
Working with KeepCup has been an amazing thing to be part of. The positive environmental impact is awesome. At the start you’d never have thought it was going to be this big. Now I’ve seen KeepCups everywhere, from the Northern Territory to Venice and London.
The idea of KeepCup is absolutely brilliant. Once when I was going on holiday to Magnetic Island, a girl sat next to me on the plane and took a KeepCup out of her bag. I said, “how do you like it? ". When I told her we made them here in Australia she was so happy to know. It’s such a success story and one we’re very proud to be part of in a small way.
We have a really good relationship with KeepCup. When there's a problem we all work together to solve it. The target is always to give the customer the best.