PRP Manufacturing (formerly Process Rubber and Plastics) was originally established in Holden Hill, SA, in 1991 by Steve Sernecki. At the time, Steve – who had had a career as a salesman in the rubber industry – identified a need in the marketplace for rubber gasket and washer components.
Over the years, the company grew and expanded its capabilities, including supplying fuel isolation systems to GM Holden, and in the 2000s, added flatbed CNC technology, which allowed for diversification into a wide range of different materials.
Today, PRP has become a widely recognised engineering company focused on solutions using rubber, sponge, foam, plastic, composites and other non-metallic materials. Now based in Dudley Park, the company boasts a full manufacturing and CNC computer cutting facility, featuring waterjet, 5-axis routing, knife, laser, die press technology and assembly for industries including defence, space, HVAC, oil and gas, construction and agriculture.
Sadly, founder Steve Sernecki passed away in November 2021, but the company remains a family-owned and operated business, with Steve’s son Luke serving as CEO.
Luke says, “Our company’s offerings include CNC computer cutting, gasket and sealing solutions, protective packaging (including hard, soft and custom cases), and advanced engineered sponges and foams for thermal, heat, dampening and sound applications.”
The company also provides engineering expertise, CAD/3D printing, R&D in innovative software, and consulting on material selections and specifications.
Luke states, “PRP exists to help create opportunities for our customers, with foundations in creative innovation, learning, excellence and commitment.”
Challenges along the way
Luke says that the biggest challenges faced by PRP have been during times of macro-economic change, such as the loss of high-volume work offshore during the mid 2000s, managing the global financial crisis, and most recently, juggling the complexity of the COVID pandemic.
“These situations can put a strain on your customers, your operations, and your employees, and solving these challenges is never easy,” notes Luke, “but I think there are a few fundamental factors that go a long way to helping mitigate risk. The biggest is probably having a strong, long-term strategic plan to align direction and to help sustain growth.”
Accru Harris Orchard Director Richard Bowden notes that this kind of planning and vision have certainly paid off for the company.
“Whilst the COVID years presented a significant challenge to the business, PRP remained active in seeking out new market opportunities, particularly in the defence space,” he explains. “This activity is now coming to fruition, with the business recording significant sales growth through FY 23 and into FY 24.”
Luke also believes that investment and innovation are vital for overcoming challenges, as well as taking advantage of tools such as grants, funding, training, and assistance to maximise opportunities.
“Having a diversified customer base from a range of industries also helps mitigate risk,” he adds.
Building a great business
“A great business to me is all about its people and their alignment with the company’s values and long-term vision,” says Luke. “The company should provide an inclusive workplace where it’s fun to come to work and where everybody feels comfortable to speak up, grow and learn.”
He adds that having consistency in the company brand, values and vision, and being honest and trustworthy to staff and to customers is vital.
“You need continual innovation and a desire to improve,” he states, “and having a clear strategic vision allows you to be sustainable and at the forefront of future trends.”
Richard explains, “To me, PRP is a great business on numerous levels. To begin with, they have an intricate knowledge of their product offering and an ability to leverage their capability to identify and meet new market opportunities.”
He says that they’re also willing to take calculated risks and make substantial investments in production capability ahead of anticipated market demand.
“Last, but certainly not least,” Richard adds,” PRP has a ‘can-do’ culture that has been shaped by the entrepreneurial approach that Steve, and now Luke, have brought to the business.”
Accru Harris Orchard’s role in the journey
PRP became a client of Accru Harris Orchard in 2016. While the firm has helped with accounting and advising in numerous areas, one of their most important tasks has been assisting with succession planning.
“As with all family businesses, succession planning is critical,” explains Richard. “Initially, we helped them change to a Board structure of governance, which allowed Steve and his wife Joy to transition from operations roles into oversight roles, whilst Luke took on a dual CEO / COO role.”
“Accru Harris Orchard has helped build our business by providing reliable accounting advice, assistance in both short and long-term strategic direction, and by allowing us to maximise financial opportunities, both with the business and our family trust,” says Luke. “Having an accountant that we can trust gives me confidence that we can pursue our goals, investments and performance targets.”
Luke says that since working with the firm, PRP has been able to obtain a greater understanding of accounting practices, realising sizeable financial savings whilst maximising investment opportunities through restructuring and planning.
“We’ve also managed to grow our company revenue while maintaining strong cash flow and low debt risk,” Luke says. “All this enables us to translate the knowledge gained into our long-term strategy, helping drive our current and future success.”
Future of the business
Over the next 3-5 years, PRP hopes to continue to increase market share, especially on the eastern side of Australia.
“We want to expand our own footprint, with increases in both office and general facility space,” notes Luke. “We’ll also continue to improve our operational efficiency, find ways to innovate through the use of technology and in-house software development, and ensure we continue to learn and grow as a team.”
To learn more, visit the PRP Manufacturing website.
Want to learn more about how Accru Harris Orchard can help you build a great business? Contact our team today.