Male working on a high end computer.

Australian owned Sydney-based company H.I. Fraser has been designing, engineering, manufacturing and maintaining gas, liquid and waste systems for more than 60 years.

Founded by Scottish engineer Hugh Ian Fraser in 1955 in Tasmania as a general engineering outfit, the company initially imported valves and strainers for Australian heavy industry.

After several large Australian Navy orders for maintenance of submarine valves, the company moved from Hobart to Sydney to better support this important new customer.

In January 2017, H.I. Fraser made its millionth fitting for the Collins Class subs.

We asked Managing Director Chris Williams what advice he would give other small to medium Australian businesses about working the defence industry.

He says that Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) assistance is essential.

To keep working with the big multinational prime contractors who manage most Defence work in Australia, H.I. Fraser had to upgrade its internal systems so they were secure and advanced enough to interact with the primes’ systems.

CDIC experts gave H.I. Fraser tailored advice including a gap analysis focusing on what the company should do to modernise and customise its systems, and H.I. Fraser then successfully applied for a Capability Improvement Grant to pay for half the required upgrade.

“The CDIC has great programs and it has seriously simplified the way Defence communicates with the market about what programs are available to help,” says Mr Williams.

“So it’s one door, and there’s a whole range of assistance programs that can help Australian defence SMEs."

“If you’ve got a really solid defence business that has the ability to do more and better things or see some opportunities, CDIC can help leverage into those opportunities."

“But there’s also a level of business maturity, defence business maturity, you need to have before those programs are going to be helpful."

“The CDIC also helps companies understand what they need to do to become defence-ready.”

Disclosure: Chris Williams is on the Advisory Board of the CDIC. The CDIC Advisory Board brings together Australian defence industry leaders and senior public sector representatives to provide guidance and strategic direction for the CDIC.