It was such a wonderful sight to see so many interested parties from a very good cross-section of historical and vintage vehicle Clubs turn up to the Crestmead Industrial Estate at 9am on Sunday, 10 April. We were at the site of Penrite Oil Company and after the parking of numerous well presented and lovingly restored cars and trucks, were welcomed by the Northern Regional Sales Manager, Brett Wigley and a number of the Penrite staff.
Brett spoke and told us how the day was planned out and went through a few housekeeping rules. With somewhere in the vicinity of 160 visitors (maybe a few more) we were divided into groups to alleviate the problem of having hearing issues at the back of the party. Firstly we were taken to an area with seats arranged so we would be able to watch on screen and listen to the founding and history of the Company, and the process of crude oil to refined products.
The Company is celebrating 90 years, having been formed in 1926 by Les Mecoles at 16 yrs of age in Melbourne and the first products were prepared on his Mum’s stove. He then did his own despatch by way of a wheelbarrow to the local businesses. The name Penrite originated from the home of the base oil, Pennsylvania, which was a quality product way back then. Because he wanted to only sell the best product he felt that this was the right (Rite) oil for Australia, hence the name “PENRITE”, which today has over 150 employees.
It was in 1979 and suffering from bad health that Les sold the Company to John and Margaret Dymond (JD) and since John’s passing in 2006 the Company is run by two sons Nigel and Toby and closely watched over by Margaret – proudly an Australian family owned Company.
With the first presentation completed, we were handed to the control of factory manager Glen, who took us on an awesome tour of the complex, and the system of blending various base oils and also bright stock to produce heavy gear oils. As Glen explained there is no refining of the raw crude oil at this type of complex as the temperature required to frack the crude and syphon off the many by-products requires extremely high temperatures and a very large buffer zone is needed around the site in case of emergency. This process is carried out generally by the major oil companies, but in Penrite’s case they have a facility in the United Kingdom, and they import their own base oils.
It was an excellent lesson in science of molecular separation to form the consistently performing qualities of oils such as synthetics, as opposed to those of a mineral oil. The blending, production, storage and packaging of numerous products, varying in size from 50g up to 1000lt and bulk is a mammoth task. Certain heavy grade oils have to be heated and decanted at around 50 degrees which is a relatively safe handling temperature for the staff. Generally this oil transfer should be completed before the oil drops below 47 degrees, so as you can see it is a very well-timed operation.
A premium, high quality and trusted brand that manufactures the right product for every application. Known as “A Better Class of Oil”, Penrite is voted number 1 by independent mechanics and major customers as a supplier of choice. All products are 100% quality satisfaction guaranteed. Penrite manufactures over 170 different products across 12 different market segments ensuring the right product is recommended for every application. Products include engine oils and coolants that are officially approved and registered by the major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and industry bodies (API).
The Head Office is located in Wantirna South, Melbourne, with other major offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland NZ and Bristol UK, exporting to over 50 countries in Europe, Asia and America and would have product being delivered to each Australian State pretty much daily. They despatch somewhere in the vicinity of up to 15 B-Double trucks in a day. As there is only holding space on the floor for two B-Doubles when the first is loaded the third load is being picked and assembled so as to avoid holding trucks, so as you can see once again it is a (excuse the pun) well-oiled operation.
From a 9am start it was very soon midday and I for one do not know where that time went, but it was certainly a great insight to a great number of people about a great Company producing a great range of products and we are truly appreciative of the time and the effort the staff put in and their generosity. The sample bag provided contained informative literature and a 90th Anniversary Commemorative Edition product catalogue. Also as a memento we all received a pourer which clips onto a 5 litre container for easy pouring together with some car wash, the label of which is the old logo (maybe a collector item in time to come).
Many thanks to the staff of Penrite who assisted and gave their time on Sunday and also to Bill Martin for helping to put together this very interesting and informative tour. Bill also did a great job as the parking attendant.
Well done Penrite.
To see some photos from the tour click here