Established in 1913 as an engineering company in New Zealand, Scott Technology initially focused on specialising in motor repair and appliance manufacturing. With time and diversification, Scott is today a world leader in the design and manufacture of advanced automation systems.
Scottish immigrant engineer John Scott, after a stint building gold dredges in the early 1900s, joined his engineer sons Andrew and John Scott in establishing a business in Leith Street, Dunedin in April 1913. J & A P Scott specialised in general repairs to gas, oil, and petrol motors and their high standard of workmanship and the motoring craze of the next ten years saw the business boom.
The company expanded with agencies for various cars like Nash and Chandler and the growing workshop carried out repairs for all makes of car. Many apprentices were taken on and several spent their working lives with J & A P Scott, thus helping to create the “family firm” atmosphere which lasted until the 1960s. One apprentice, Ken Brown, became a key man in the firm and in 1925 was sent on a 13,000-mile tour of the United States to examine the latest methods and arrange the importation of new technology. The firm’s excellent reputation led to vehicle servicing contracts with large concerns like the New Zealand Express Company, the Dunedin City Council, and the Dunedin Metropolitan Fire Board. All the while, the original premises in Leith St were being extended along Albany Street.
The economic woes of the 1930s had only a limited effect on the company. Machinery was now being serviced in many Dunedin factories like Shacklock’s and Cadbury’s and work on motor cars and trucks increased. Large gears were made for the Otago Harbour Board and a forklift for Otago Iron Rolling Mills at Green Island. Agencies for Allis-Chalmers tractors and Leyland trucks were added and the firm’s reputation for precision engineering was enhanced with new machinery.
A new generation of the Scott family joined the company to learn the ropes from the bottom up. By the late 1930s, there were about 70 staff members and the range of activities included selling parts, operating furnaces, cylinder, and crank grinding, die making and a dozen other jobs. As the southern representative of Motor Specialities, J & A P Scott expanded the parts department and in 1938 opened a branch in Invercargill.
At the outbreak of war, the firm was supplied with precision equipment by the government and the entire operation was dedicated to making munitions, mainly mortars and bombs. New staff, including women, were “man-powered” to help with the work and existing male staff found it difficult to be released when they volunteered for overseas services. After the war, this experience with mass production led the company into the world of manufacturing.
During the 1950s, while motoring work continued, the firm set up a washing machine manufacturing plant and the Scott washing machine (soon branded Whirlpool) became a sought-after consumer item during the 1950s boom years. The appliance industry was fiercely competitive, and machines needed to be air freighted to the larger northern customer base and, with hindsight, it was felt that the Scott-built machines were being engineered to a higher standard than the market required.
Common sense dictated a withdrawal from the appliance market, however, general engineering continued to grow. While many innovative designs were produced for a wide variety of customers, many products were one-off items and making a good profit from engineering became more difficult, while the parts department remained a steady earner. By the 1960s the Scott family connection was much diluted and some of the early staff members were now in managerial positions. One far-reaching move was the decision in 1962 to buy the long-established Christchurch engineering firm of Penfolds, thus laying the foundation for the present operation focusing on building automated production line equipment.
In Dunedin, the J & A P Scott building was bought by the University of Otago and Graeme Marsh of long-established motor engineering and sales firm, Cook Howlison, bought J & A P Scott with a view to developing those parts of the company which were performing well.
Under Graeme Marsh, as part of the Donaghy’s group, Scott moved to new premises and focussed on the core business of designing and producing machines for industry. The design department expanded, and important contracts were signed with major firms like Fisher and Paykel. The 1970s saw the growth of export orders so that by the end of the decade overseas orders were in the million-dollar range.
Kelvinator of Australia, impressed by the machines being used by Fisher and Paykel, placed a large order and this prompted Scott to explore the American market by establishing a base in Dallas. Thus began a series of long-standing relationships with major United States manufacturers. Export orders reached more than $25 million a year and the client base extended to the United Kingdom and Europe while in New Zealand staff numbers were now about one hundred. The company was now a regular recipient of export awards. During the 1980s the use of computers in design work became universal and the company had full order books. In spite of the work available, the company decided not to compromise on quality, and this ensured a reputation for excellence which was valuable when overseas recessions affected the marketplace.
During the last twenty years, Scott has enjoyed success stories that have countered the times of uncertainty in international markets. One example is the relationship with the American range hood manufacturer, Broan. From 1992 to 2010 the company made 25 million range hoods using a Scott system which provided the flexibility to produce over 450 various models of the hood.
Orders of up to $24 million from large manufacturers like Whirlpool established Scott as a major player in the international market despite the distance from customers. In 1997 Scott Technology listed on the stock exchange and shareholders have had steady returns.
The slowdown in the American economy in 2001 was the catalyst for Scott to diversify. This diversification was two-fold: firstly, Scott diversified geographically and entered the Asian and European markets for appliance manufacturing systems; and secondly, it began to diversify into other niche market areas.
During the global financial crisis of 2009, Scott continued to invest heavily in research and development in all areas of the business. The benefit of this investment is now being realised, with growth and opportunities in all current markets served.
In 2016 JBS - the second-largest food company in the world - became a majority shareholder of Scott. JBS currently holds 52%.
In addition, Scott has diversified and grown its business by way of acquisitions:
An Auckland-based manufacturer of mechanised and automated sample preparation equipment and suppliers of gold reference materials to the mining industry. Rocklabs was acquired in July 2008.
75% of a Chinese manufacturing facility was acquired in September 2011, enabling us to take advantage of opportunities within the Chinese and wider Asian markets.
In 2016 Scott acquired a German business that operates in the Appliance manufacturing industry sector, providing a stronger presence to deliver and grow Scott's European customer base.
In mid-2017 Scott purchased DC Ross, a local Dunedin business that are world leaders in fine blanking technology.
The purchase of Alvey was closely followed by the acquisition of Transbotics, a U.S based AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) manufacturer. This most recent addition to the Scott Group completes our goal of building a complete end-to-end offering for the overall production process from raw material receipt to final distribution. The recent acquisition of Alvey was the first step toward this goal, however, an AGV business, such as Transbotics, was also needed to complement these back end logistic capabilities. The introduction of Transbotics into the Scott Group strategically positions Scott to grow the U.S market.
In 2019, Scott acquired Normaclass, a french company that provides beef grading technology with extensive installations in Europe and Uruguay.
A key supplier of reference materials to the Rocklabs business was acquired in November 2010.
Acquisitions of Melbourne-based Applied Sorting Technologies in June 2014, a manufacturer of x-ray food inspection equipment and Sydney-based Machinery Automation and Robotics in January 2015, with its complementary products in the mining, meat processing and robotics industries, has also provided critical mass in Scott's other key geographical market of Australia.
In late 2016 Scott purchased the business assets of BladeStop Pty Limited. BladeStop is bandsaw safety technology used in the meat processing industry and sits alongside Scott's expanding suite of meat processing applications that focus on improving safety, efficiency and yield. BladeStop is uniquely designed to reduce the risks of serious injury by mechanically stopping the bandsaw blade when the unit senses that a person has come in contact with the blade.
The start of 2018 saw the acquisition of the Alvey Group, headquartered in Belgium with operations in France, Czech Republic and the UK. This significant addition to the Scott Group brings with it a high calibre workforce of over 250 and expertise that greatly adds to Scott's existing product range and software capabilities.
Taking over the spares and sundries part of the Milmeq slaughter business, providing continuity of service for Milmeq customers and equipment.
Today, Scott specializes in the design and manufacture of automated production, robotics, and process machinery globally. With over 600 employees and operations in twelve countries (New Zealand, Australia, China, America, Canada, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Chile and Uruguay). Scott operates globally, supplying equipment and servicing customers in over 75 countries.
Scott has enjoyed many successes which have countered the times of uncertainty in economic downturns, international markets, and geographic distance. It is with immense pride that Scott thanks the generations of people who have been part of the Scott story, making it the company it is today.
With the launch of our Scott 2025 strategy, the organization has a clear plan in place that focuses on delivering high-performing products, solutions and systems where Scott has proven global leadership.
In 2013 Scott celebrated 100 years in New Zealand and commissioned the well-known Dunedin historian Jim Sullivan to document and author the book ‘Scott Technology - 100 Years of Engineering’. It tells of the constant changes needed to stay up and keep a step ahead of the everchanging developments in engineering. The employees of 1913 would be astounded and amazed at Scott’s accomplishments. A digital version of this book can be requested by contacting us.