Mercury Mufflers the trusted name in Mufflers, Exhausts and Accessories for over 70 years
A Brief history of Underwood’s (Mercury Mufflers) on Buderim Queensland.
J & M UNDERWOOD PTY LTD, as it was known, was conceived and constructed entirely by one man, John Underwood. In 1949 John sold up his Melbourne interest and with his wife Molly, young family John (aged 7) and Susan (aged 3) he arrived on Buderim (Sunshine Coast QLD), selected and purchased 10 hectares of land on the South Eastern end of the Buderim mountain, in close proximity to the shopping area, intending to enjoy semiretirement, supplementing the budget by growing bananas, strawberries and beans. The 1950 cyclone altered this by destroying his entire crop.
John who had served his apprenticeship in Richmond (VIC), was a St. Kilda supporter and a keen sailor who built three 13 meter racing yachts, was a man of great vision, delighting in hard work. In Victoria he had two factories manufacturing water pumps and a 4HP petrol engine. This business brought him in contact with the large Australian engineering supply firm McPhersons Ltd, who were only to please to again supply him with equipment for his Queensland endeavours. So after the cyclone destroyed his farming ambitions, John, capably assisted by his wife Molly, in 1951, modestly began with one lathe under the house and then another for Molly making “Grouser” bolts (used in caterpillar tracks) before he made the move to mufflers in 1952, still under the house he was now employing 12 men. In 1954 John built a small factory on the old strawberry patch which he designed and constructed himself along with Molly. In 1959 more progress, additional factory space, now allowing for up to 65 men to be employed. In 1960 John and Molly went on a world trip inspecting similar factories in England and Europe, returning convinced that his layout and production methods were equal to any and ahead of most. On return he gained a huge contract from Victa Mowers for the manufacture of mower parts and items for aircraft production. To adequately handle such a contract a building extension program was started on, by 1962 the employment figure had reached 100 men – what a remarkable expansion and achievement in the brief 10 year period.
As Buderim is a country area, 110km from the main supply source of raw materials, Brisbane, and not even a railhead. All goods are carried by the firm’s own trucks, the early 5 ton steel orders sufficient for a considerable period of time had grown to 50-96 tonnes which was quickly consumed.
By 1965 the factory had expanded to 5 levels as it is today. In 1966 tragedy struck the firm with the untimely death of John in his early 50’s. Due to years of close association and partnership with John in his business activities, Molly with great capabilities and a wonderful character, in her moment of grief carried on.
There are many factor associated with such a success story of an engineering firm manufacturing items in the highly competitive automotive field but none as vital as the proud record of Underwood’s. Never a man hour lost due to industrial unrest nor a serious accident whilst manufacturing more than 2 million kilometres of exhaust systems. May this record remain unblemished?
Molly married Carl Scott in 1968 and appointed him managing director. But still maintained her position as chairman. Unfortunately in 1990 Carl Scott died and in 2003 Molly passed away. The company is now owned by John & Molly’s daughter Susan, and their two grandsons John and Richard are both heavily involved in many aspects of the business. The Company still remains family owned and run business. A success story as this brief history reveals, stems from the high quality and capabilities of its founders.
Canada may have had Henry Ford – Buderim had John Underwood..
© doBusiness. All rights reserved.