The old cliche of drawing on the back of a napkin has turned into another yet innovation for a rapidly-expanding Riverina business.
FlipScreen creator Sam Turnbull had been in the United States talking to a friend about heavy demolition equipment when the topic turned to limitations in the technology. A born inventor, the problem nagged at him until he headed home on a Qantas flight.
“I drew up this crazy hydraulic cylinder on the back of a napkin that should be huge, then came back and we made it,” Mr Turnbull said. “This thing puts out four times the force of anything else that size, that’s the part I love most about this business: Creating things that big companies say you can’t do, then doing it.”
It’s just the latest in a long list of innovations that have seen Mr Turnbull go from winning “inventor of the year” at the 2003 Henty Field Days to overseeing a global business. From those early days at Mangoplah, FlipScreen products are now used in 39 countries around the world and on all seven continents.
“Yes, even Antarctica,” Mr Turnbull said. “They had people breaking their ankles on rocks – not good in Antarctica – so they got a FlipScreen to remove them.”
While many people overseas assume FlipScreen is an American company – they have an office in Dallas with a full stock of machinery and parts – everything is designed and manufactured in Wagga, which is translating into more local jobs.
“We’ve got a whole heap of orders – large orders – next year and we need to ramp it up a bit,” Mr Turnbull said.
“There’s been a lot of effort put into research and development, we’re working on a crusher bucket and we got the revolutionary hydraulic cylinders and drive systems, but we’ve also sent a unit over to JCB in India and it looks like we’ll do a deal there – they’re like the Caterpillar of India.
“We’re also pushing into other markets such as Europe next year and we’ve come up with a new machine for their environment, it’s been pretty busy.”
But the growth doesn’t mean Mr Turnbull will soon be leaving the region – he still lives near Mangoplah and intends to stay put.
“You certainly don’t need to be in Sydney or Melbourne to do this,” he said. “I don’t need to sit in traffic for an hour, we’ve got a great team, really good people and we punch above our weight.”