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Winner: Ken Brown for Lifetime Achievement

PACE Zenith Awards

Lifetime Achievement category sponsored by LogiCamms

Winner: Ken Brown of K E Brown Electrical Switchboards

Ken Brown is the Founding Managing Director of K E Brown Electrical Switchboards who, at the age of 91, still goes to work regularly to guide the company he built.

It was humble beginnings for Ken who as a young returned soldier from the Royal Australian Navy was at a loss for what to do. [Ken Brown is pictured alongside with his wife Rose.]

"It took a while to settle down when you came back, it was so different. My first 'job' was to spend three months on Manly Beach, going to the pub a lot. A mate had just got out of the Army at the same time I left the Navy so we teamed up and enjoyed ourselves for a while."

However he soon realised that the skills he'd learnt before the war as a boiler maker for the Eveleigh railway workshops were in high demand. That was when he began working with a company making ice chests.

"They gave me the chance to take the company over in 1948, and fix the engineering problem to get them out of the hole. I did that and as we got the company back on the rails, we found there was a big demand for anything to do with houses," said Ken.

Ken set up the company some 64 years ago with three people in the Manly Ice works doing sheet metal fabrication of ice chests and ice moulds. Today, K E Brown employs 75 staff with two factories in Sydney manufacturing advanced switchboards and line power projects.

"We went on to progress from making enclosures for little switchboards to making whole units, then bigger units, and ultimately some of the most sophisticated switchboards in the country," said Ken.

He says the key to his success over the years as simple and unchanging – you must listen to your employees and your customers. "People were always the key – they still are. Without good people you've got nothing. You've got to get the right people, train them and give them the right tools." 

"Quality, customisation and innovation are what keep people coming back – you listen to what they need, and you aim to exceed their expectations," said Ken, whose company recently delivered its 800th switchboard for the world's largest fast food retailer.

Adam Lovegrove, grandson of winner Ken Brown accepts the award from David Cotterell of LogiCamms, sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Adam Lovegrove (L) grandson of winner Ken Brown accepts the award from David Cotterell of LogiCamms, sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Ken is a founding member of the National Electrical Switchboard Manufacturers Association, NESMA, and the company as a whole routinely involves itself in product development and product testing initiatives well beyond just what is required by Standards.

"We are very proud of what we achieve and what's really good is that we are doing it with local skills we developed in-house," said Ken.

"When we send a switchboard off around Australia or throughout the Asia-Pacific, we know it is going to work because it has got the quality, design and reliability built into it by our own people. That's something that's never changed and isn't changing now." 

Unfortunately Ken couldn't be at the PACE Zenith Awards night. However his grandson, Adam Lovegrove who works as Business Services Manager at K E Brown, accepted the award on his behalf.

When asked what he thinks is his grandfather's greatest achievement, Adam replied: "I think perhaps the longevity of the business that he's built – he has such a good team of people behind him. I think he was trying to build something that is going to last, that will succeed him, that will continue until after he's not around."

LogiCamms’ vision is to be a market leader delivering outstanding customer solutionsPACE Zenith Awards 2012: Lifetime Achievement category is proudly sponsored by LogiCamms
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