From one young Otter - the growth of an Australian icon
The Otter® brand has been built on a great tradition of vision, hard work and true entrepreneurial spirit. Although the name Otter is synonymous with 'nails' today, this wasn’t the first product our founder made.
It all began in the early 1950's when John Otter - Jack as he was known - was employed as a sub-contractor on Housing Commission estates in Melbourne. Hammering away each day, Jack dreamt of developing his own manufacturing business, supplying nails and fencing. So he began investigating opportunities for manufacturing and in 1959 Jack purchased a small machine to manufacture Chain-Link fabric and then formally incorporated the first of our companies; Otter Fencing Pty Ltd, was born.
Jack knew he needed a point of difference; so he focussed on offering superior quality and reliability. Not long afterwards, with success in his stride, Jack began the next phase towards manufacturing and bought four nail machines and the second of our companies, Otter Nails Pty Ltd, was established.
For nearly 20 years Otter grew from strength to strength at the factory site in Huntingdale, Melbourne, until a devastating fire gutted the nail warehouse in 1977. Rather than rebuild, Jack decided to relocate to a site on Princes Highway at Clayton, Victoria, in Melbourne’s south east.
Sadly Jack’s health failed and he passed away in 1982, however, he laid a strong foundation for the business, his son Ray Otter, then stepped up as Managing Director to continue Jack’s vision.
In 1987, the Otter entrepreneurial spirit kicked in again and we acquired the nail division of the British United Shoe Machinery Company. This meant we could now offer our customers new specialty nail products. Additional machinery also meant we were able to manufacture non-ferrous nails, enabling us to enter into new markets and provide greater capacity to service the hardware industry.
In 1996, with expansion in our blood, Otter Nails purchased one of our biggest competitors, 'Titan' brand, from BHP Fastener Products Pty Ltd, a division of BHP Limited. Titan had been operating since 1888 and had a strong customer base, including Mitre 10 Group, who were pleased at the seamless transition of service to their group stores.
With the nail market firmly in our grasp, Otter Nails decided to broaden its fastener range and enter the screw industry. In 1999 we acquired an Australian family owned business called Metric Agencies & Industries Pty Ltd which marketed the well-known ScrewFix brand. Having screws in the Otter stable has given us a much wider product platform and strengthened Otter as a major player in the broader ‘fasteners’ market.
In 2004, Otter acquired National Steel Nails from Mayne Industries Pty Ltd, in Queensland. This was a very exciting development as it enabled us to then service the entire Australian Hardware Market with an extensive range of products.
2007 saw Otter broaden its presence in the marketplace with the acquisition of the successful bathware company Interbath®. This addition to the Otter stable of brands reinforces Otter as more than just a nail or fastening company and allows for diversity in retail hardware.
We have now passed our half a century in business and the company is continuing its investment in the future with a move to newer and larger premises in Dandenong South. Our existing network of warehousing and distribution has been greatly enhanced with supply chain channels throughout most of Australia, thus ensuring efficient warehousing and timely distribution.
We’ve travelled a long way and are happy to report that we’re still delivering the same point of difference that Jack instilled back in 1959: unsurpassed quality and reliability.
‘When quality matters... It’s Gotter be Otter’
From an idea born in the 1950's, today the young Otter has grown into mature, independent, strong and vibrant set of companies.