Demand swings Funky Monkey’s way

Turnover might be growing at 125 per cent year on year, but that doesn’t mean the directors of playground manufacturer Funky Monkey Bars aren’t daunted by the heights of a rapidly growing business.

In fact, business for Yangebup-based Funky Monkey is so good that founder Shane Roberts has enlisted the help of CCIWA-run Entrepreneur’s Programme for advice and help with business and strategic planning.

Funky Monkey’s Shane Roberts tells how the Entrepreneurs’ Programme has helped business

 

When Roberts stumbled on a gap in the backyard playground industry nine years ago while searching for monkey bars for his daughter, he quickly swung into action to establish Funky Monkey.

With the help of his builder brother, they designed and built a freestanding monkey bars that didn’t require digging holes and applying concrete – something Roberts didn’t feel qualified to attempt after a 20-year career in financial risk management.

Funky Monkey Bars ran as a hobby for three years, with demand consistently growing, driven by word of mouth and a basic website.

Five years ago, structural engineer Colin Burdle joined as a business partner and together they took Funky Monkey Bars to the next level by manufacturing the equipment in Perth rather than importing from Vietnam and driving improvements to the design.

Staff have increased from three to 27 in nine year and the business now occupies four facilities in Yangebup after starting in a small unit in White Gum Valley.

“One of the unique things about a funky monkey bars is that there’s no welding anywhere in the product. We used to weld originally, but we were having lots of problems with rust, all those sorts of things which customers just don’t want,” Roberts said.

“We wanted a product that even after 10 years still looks the same.

“One of the things we’re probably most proud about here at Funky Monkey bars is we are Australian owned, made and designed.

“If you look at any of our frames, 85 per cent is made here in Perth. We buy Australian steel off Orrcon steel. We get that rolled to our length over in Queensland, that gets shipped over to us we cut, we deburr, we laser, we powder coat, we package, we send it out.”

Entrepreneurs’ Programme business adviser Geoff Brazier said even though the Funky Monkey Bars management team were experienced businessmen, they were keen to implement professional growth.

The free Federal Government program offers matched grants of up to $20,000 to eligible businesses to identify areas of improvement.

After an initial business evaluation, businesses can then become eligible for further grants if they meet certain criteria, with Funky Monkey Bars now receiving growth services support.

This involved Brazier introducing the company to a national technology adviser from AusIndustry for a comprehensive meeting and recommendations.

“These included but were not restricted to production planning, technology advice, modelling and referrals, online sales and ERP/MRP integration, developing thermoplastic injection moulded fittings, advice on software and solutions for quality management system and standard operating procedures,” he said.

“This company represents an excellent example of business collaboration, with the programme providing support with knowledge and insight to identify opportunities to improve and grow their business.”

Roberts, who highly recommends the program, said when you have your head down and are going flat out, it’s hard to ask for help.

“As a small business you just trying to get through day-by-day,” he said.

“You don’t know those things exist unless someone comes and tells you about them. You don’t know whether you can apply. And then when you do have to apply there is a significant effort involved in doing the application and getting the information done.”

Roberts says the advice and support has been invaluable, with Brazier touching base at least once a month.

 CCIWA works with the Federal Government to help eligible applicants access matched grants of up to $20,000. And you don’t need to be a Member to take advantage of this free initiative. Find out more here.

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