ENGINEERINGThe Past

R. Moore & Sons

The Early Years

When 16-year old Robert Moore and his brother Tom arrived from Ireland in Fremantle in 1897, no one could have imagined the incredible impact Robert would have on the developing state of Western Australia.

During his first two decades here, Robert Moore went wherever there was work, giving him a handy familiarity with the people and places of regional Australia – and a lot of experience.

From working in the Kalgoorlie mines, where he accumulated enough capital to buy two hotels in Anaconda near Leonora with his new wife Amelia, to purchasing cordial factories in Kalgoorlie and Norseman, Robert had his finger in many pies. At age 24, he employed 24 staff.

In 1918, he moved his family to Perth where he transported oils, kerosene and petrol for the Vacuum Oil Company. He also bought a market garden in Jandakot, which he built up and later sold to buy a fleet of trucks to deliver bulk newspapers for West Australian Newspapers.

In all of these ventures, Robert used his strongest and most fundamental skills – understanding people, trusting his intuitions and repairing things; diesel engines were his specialty.

Engineering the future

Entering The Engineering Business

In 1920, Robert Moore saw an opportunity in the short supply of engine parts and vehicle components such as axles, gears and differentials to be made locally. He set up a workshop at 60 Short Street, Perth, behind the family home.

The business grew and employed 10 staff and 8 apprentices by 1927, surviving the Great Depression of the 1930s because the demand for tractor, car and truck parts continued. Then, as now, R. Moore & Sons remained competitive because they produced a high-quality product suited to the market.

R. Moore & Sons

RMS & WWII

In early 1939, few workshops had the experience, expertise and machines to manufacture engine components in WA. Prior to hostilities, RMS requested approval and certification to manufacture and repair of aero engines and components. 

Following a General Motors Holden audit of capacity, a contract was issued to RMS to make Bren Gun Carrier, Tiger Moth aircraft and Bofor Gun parts. 

The Ministry of Munitions supplied the company with extra specialised machines and equipment and issued it an A1 Priority which, among other things, excluded the 46 male employees from military call up.

Further contracts were awarded by the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force and, by 1942, the company was at capacity undertaking munitions work, with double shifts to meet the demand.

In March 1942, guards were supplied to protect the R. Moore & Sons facility and these Special Peace Officers remained until the end of the war.

During this wartime period, RMS also carried out work for the US Navy.

Engineering the future

After The War

RMS was able to maintain its 50 staff after the war as the demand for agricultural and automotive replacement parts returned. Larger machines were purchased, increasing the company’s range of capacity. 

In 1948, the Moore’s made their first venture into fishing (jumping on the WA Government’s desire to  develop the north to open up industries for export and employment) and within two years became a public company which started many new fishing industries, creating seasonal employment for more than 200 staff.

The RMS workshop provided maintenance for the vessels and industrial equipment needed to support these endeavours.

 

 

R. Moore & Sons

The Passing of Robert Moore SNR

When Robert Moore (Snr) died on 5 July 1957, aged 76, a tribute was paid to him for the development of the engineering and commercial fishing industry in Western Australia and the results of his years of hard work and leadership.

He was described as one of WA’s pioneers and great industrialists.

Robert’s three surviving sons Bob (RB), Lindsay (LA), and William (Bill) were by now experienced and capable managers and formed a close working family team at RMS. Bob Jr. soon took on the roll of manager RMS workshop.

Engineering the future

RMS Expands

By 1960, RMS was facing stronger competition in the light automotive field. To combat this, small branches were established in Fremantle, Welshpool, Morley and Bunbury, offering garages same day service for small, light work. These also offered a range of exchange components.

While other company ventures were developed, the original RMS workshop faced new challenges and opportunities. The highly technical servicing of Diesel Fuel Injection components, firmly held by Original Equipment Manufacturers, saw RMS step up to create a fuel engine room at its Kewdale site. This quickly grew to employ 12 fitters, allowing the company to dominate the market. By 1972, this service was offered at 5 locations.

R. Moore & Sons

International Partnerships

While researching prawning operations in USA, R.B. Moore heard about an opportunity to partner with the high-quality Italian manufacturing giant, Berco. In 1958, RMS became Berco’s Australian distributor and registered the trademark in Australia. RMS was warehousing and assembling parts, and remanufacturing wearing parts and this successful operation was expanded into Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and eventually South Australia and Tasmania.

The Moore’s divested their interests in the fishing industry in 1965 but, just before this, while on a prawn and scallop marketing trip to Japan, Bob Moore Jr. made contact with the Nissan Motor Company, who were looking for an Australian distributor for their UD marine and industrial diesel engines. On a handshake deal, RMS became their Australian distributors and the first engines arrived in WA in 1967.

The relationship with Nissan continued to grow and RMS was selling Nissan engines in three Australian states. When a mining requirement for 4-wheel and 6-wheels drive trucks was identified, Nissan supplied three trucks which RMS assembled in their entirety in WA, from bags of components, identified solely in Japanese writing. Truck distribution led to massive growth for the company.

 

Engineering the future

Neil & Warren Moore

In 1968, Bill’s two sons Warren and Neil joined the company. As by family rules, they started at the bottom. Neil, having trained in accounting, began in the clerk’s office and Warren started as an apprentice. 

In 1973, Neil was given the project to investigate, purchase and integrate a computer into the operations, enabling complete centralisation of the business administration.

 

At the same time, RMS was operating four dedicated production line engine remanufacturing plants in Australia’s eastern states, concentrating on Holden, Ford and Chrysler petrol engines.  These plants were successful and the decision was made to build a production plant here in Welshpool, WA.

Warren was made project site manager for the plant, designed by Lindsay Moore, who sadly passed away in 1975.

 

Following his passing, Neil stepped up to assume control over the administrative and internal functions of the entire company and Warren took responsibility of the semi completed MoorePower production plant.

R. Moore & Sons

RMS of the future

In 1980, the decision was made to move the original RMS workshop and head office to Kewdale, led by Warren with Neil as the financial controller.

The modern, purpose-built premises at 7 Noble St – encompassing the use of the new concrete panels system – were ready by 1982. RMS remains at this location today.

By 1986, RMS employed more than 200 people at more than 15 sites across Australia and management was stretched, prompting a company restructure. The Nissan and Berco operations, and a second-hand Japanese engine section is sold to brothers Bob Moore Jr. and Lester Moore.

In 1988, Neil and Warren purchased the Kewdale operations and sold the MoorePower arm, as well as the smaller RMS branches.

The Moore families are now financially separated from the business and Neil and Warren – who remain with RMS today – focus on building their own business.

In 1992, the business, with a strong management team and a depth of young staff, is awarded the Quality Assurance certificate by Lloyds Registry.

 
Engineering the future

Travel, Technology & Turning 100

As a result of continual, extensive overseas travel to keep ahead of industry trends and investment in metal spraying, shot peening and “out of the norm” CNC machining centres, amongst other advances, RMS has now become one of a handful of specialised world-leading engine regeneration companies. These organisations compare technologies for reclaiming components. 

From 2004 onwards, the company has also led the way in ‘green’ advances to reduce its environmental impact, installing an award-winning wastewater recycling system and solar PV system at the Kewdale factory.

In 2011, as part of its succession planning, RMS’ management financially partners with the Moore family.

As one of only a handful of family businesses in Western Australia to reach this milestone, RMS is both proud of its fascinating past and excited about its future in the diesel and gas engine component regeneration industry.

Look at our history through milestones

Milestones