Denton Engineering & Hydraulics – Who are we?
In a nutshell Denton’s is a local, family orientated business whose motto is “If It’s Made Of Steel, We Can Fix It!” – a motto the kids frequently remind Ian and Michelle of when they have a car that needs fixing.
Ian and Michelle started their business in 2004 with a lathe, a miller, and a determination to make this succeed, no matter what. Michelle ran, and still runs the office and Ian was on the tools. All the kids chipped in over the weekends and holidays to help clean the office, cut steel, sweep the shop, and blow down the machines. In the beginning, it was a tough gig for everyone and the little shed the workshop was in was basically a second home.
Michelle is from a trucking family and her father, Jim Bone, owned Raymond Terrace Roadways. One of four kids, she is the only one who didn’t drive trucks for the family business – although that didn’t stop her getting her hands dirty helping out in the truck yard! This background also gave her valuable insights into how she would like to run her own business one day – a pipe dream of hers.
Ian was always driven and independent and had his first job, a paper run, at age 9. This independence made it difficult to keep an eye on him so at age 12 he was introduced to his uncle, George Robertson’s, family business Meadow Industries, where he started by cleaning the shop. Over the years Ian had many roles at different engineering companies, including an apprenticeship in fitting and machining and ending with a workshop foreman position.
Ian and Michelle’s first workshop was on Glenwood drive in Thornton and Denton Engineering & Hydraulics called this little shed home for 2 years before moving to a bigger location. The workshop was now on Pipeclay Avenue, Thornton and came equipped with an overhead crane and a carpark for customers – no more backing trucks down to a long shared driveway to load and unload jobs.
The larger space made manoeuvring the increasing workload a lot easier to handle and provided Ian and Michelle with the opportunity to expand their customer base and their workforce. In the little shed, they had hired their first few employees but with the move, the workforce blossomed to around 14 staff, including apprentices.
Denton Engineering & Hydraulics was at Pipeclay Avenue for just under 5 years before, once again, they had outgrown the space and this time, the move was hopefully the last. Ian and Michelle were able to find another shed in Thornton large enough that they wouldn’t need to move again. Although this hasn’t stopped Ian expanding the exiting workspace. This move was huge. There were days where utes and trucks just drove from one side of the industrial estate to the other. The convey of utes escorting the large machinery was especially slow.
Denton Engineering & Hydraulics is now located a 2/118 Glenwood Drive, Thornton. Whilst general engineering and hydraulics has always been the main focus for Ian and Michelle, with the move back to Glenwood Drive they were now able to branch into another area – Polyurethane. It is here that in 2012 Denton Urethane’s was born.
With the beginning of another business, Ian and Michelle’s staff soared to 32 across the two companies and the customer base now included international organisations. This expansion did not mean that the smaller, local customers were forgotten – Ian and Michelle have always tried to help anyone who needs work done and it’s the “little guys” that have got Denton’s through some tough times.
In 2016 after 4 years operating the two companies, Ian and Michelle made the decision to close Denton Urethane’s. With international influence regarding manufacturing costs, there was no longer the demand for Australian manufactured Polyurethane mining components and the services that Denton’s provided. The smart decision was to dissolve the Urethane’s branch of Denton’s.
This meant there was a whole workshop now free to be used. It was promptly cleaned up, painted and revamped. The Hydraulic repair section of the business was moved into one end with CNC machines in the other, replacing the Urethane ovens. Denton Engineering & Hydraulics is now able to complete any number of CNC work orders.
In 2013 Ian’s son Paul moved back to Newcastle from Queensland to take on more responsibility in the workshop and is now the workshop supervisor. Paul initially completed his fitting and machining apprenticeship with Meadow Industries which at that time, was owned by Mark Robertson, Ian’s cousin. After completing his apprenticeship, he worked for Ian and Michelle for a number of years before relocating to Brisbane.
During Paul’s time away, Ian and Michelle officially employed nearly all of their kids – Kylie and Emily worked in the office, Rowan completed his fitting and machining apprenticeship, and Mathew worked in the Urethane’s side of things. As time went on, they all moved on and Paul came back to the position he is in today with fresh ideas for Denton’s including the introduction of Thermal Arc Spraying. With Paul’s experience in this area, Denton’s now has a purpose-built booth for Thermal Arc Spraying in line with all quality and safety guidelines.
Ian and Michelle have not only helped their kids out with employment when they needed, but they also employ people who they have been friends with for a long time. Ian has known Dave, one of their most skilled machinists, for over 30 years and has employed him for over 16 years. There are also other staff who have been employed with Denton’s for over 10 years, like their master boilermaker Anthony, driving home the high value Ian and Michelle place on their family, friends and employees.
Throughout the lifespan of Denton Engineering & Hydraulics there have been many staff come and go but there are also many who have stayed with Denton’s for years, even a decade or so, before moving onto pursue other interests.
Nowadays, Denton Engineering & Hydraulics has 17 employees including 4 apprentices. They are focused on continuous improvement within the workshop, chiefly with quality assurance and customer service. Denton’s primary focus is general machining and hydraulics, particularly hydraulic cylinder overhauls. No job is too small or too large, and Ian and Paul are happy to take on challenging work orders, including breakdowns. Denton’s is a one-stop shop, offering the option for pick up and delivery of jobs as well as sandblasting and painting in their purpose build booths as required.
As the saying at Denton’s goes, “If it’s made of steel, we can fix it!”