United Bonded Fabrics - The Story So Far...

Historical photo

Scroll and click in the timeline below to discover the many chapters
in the United Bonded Fabrics story in Australia

1870-1900

In the Beginning

David Galt was one of the original rag merchants in the colony of Victoria in the later part of the 1800’s. During the 1870’s David Galt commenced his business in Flemington, at that time an outer suburb of Melbourne, to manufacture flock, soft bedding and other similar fibre based products. By the turn of the Century his business had prospered and he’d already acquired one of his competitors.
1900-1930

Considering Expansion

In 1922 his son, David junior, urged his father to expand his factory and increase production of wadding and wadding pads. David senior was not interested, and ownership changed with David Galt junior acquiring his father’s interests through a third party for £16,000 ($32,000), and immediately set about building his first wadding plant.
1930-1945

The War Years

In 1935 David Galt II purchased the property at 50 Bakers Rd, Coburg and built a (then) modern factory and installed garnets and other wadding manufacturing equipment to allow his family owned fibre processing enterprise to continue its impressive growth and market prominence. Tragically David Galt II lost both his sons in active overseas service during World War II, and this had a profound impact on the longer-term direction for the business.
1945-1959

Post War

In 1948 David Galt, with his health failing, and no family members able to carry on his vision, sold his factories to Felt & Textiles. Felt & Textiles also acquired H.A King & Co, which produced the famous Van Winkle range of bedding products at that time. While the business of David Galt Industries continued to produce its range of waddings and felts, Van Winkle continued to innovate and introduced quilted bedspreads and mattress protectors to Australia under the entrepreneurial leadership of Mr King.
1960-1980

The Birth of Tontine

Mr King was appointed Manager of David Galt Industries and was able to convince his Board to modernize with new plant and equipment, and then in 1960 Mr King introduced a fibre pillow to the market which he branded TONTINE, the company’s promise of increased comfort and a good night’s sleep. David Galt Industries continued to prosper and over time made a number of further acquisitions including Hallmark Industries and Northern Feather Mills; manufacturers of the “Doona” branded quilt. In 1961 the Scheinberg and Gonczi families established United Bonded Fabrics (UBF) to manufacture felt products in Sydney, and was a direct competitor of David Galt Industries. In the 1960’s Australia was enjoying prosperity and along with the nation UBF also prospered, and subsequently acquired Felt & Fibres in Queensland.
1980-2000

Expansion

Over time UBF diversified, and started manufacture of woollen quilts, waddings and other fibre based products. In the late 1980’s this diversification lead to UBF being granted patents for its novel geotextile products made from organic materials, and remained the world’s largest jute geotextiles manufacturer until 2015. By the end of the 1980’s David Galt Industries had changed its name to Tontine Industries, and operated as 3 discrete Divisions; Automotive, Industrial and Consumer goods. In 1991, the Industrial business was relocated from the original Coburg site in Melbourne to Mooroolbark, was operating in five Australian states, and the Automotive business was sold. Over time both UBF and David Galt Industries moved along parallel paths with UBF introducing its own insulation products and range of Pillows and Consumer Bedding products. UBF remained in the same ownership and continued to acquire small competitors, while David Galt Industries had a number of ownership changes, and at various times was owned by ACMIL, ACI and finally Pacific Dunlop Limited before the demise of that business in 2002.
2000-2010

Investment

By this time UBF had operations in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, manufacturing pillows and quilted goods at each of its sites, along with a range of wadding and insulation products. UBF acquired Tontine’s jute felt business as part of the rationalization of Tontine Industries and finally acquired its Industrial business in 2003. This acquisition allowed UBF to improve the efficiency of its own operations and closed a number of factories where there was duplication, however UBF retained its national footprint with factories in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, and in Melbourne at the original David Galt Industries site in Coburg. Over the 5 years from 2005 to 2009 UBF invested heavily in each of its four plants to create Australia’s largest non-woven manufacturer, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and manufacturing processes. This was overseen by Jim Liaskos who become a minor shareholder and the Managing Partner.
2010-2013

Changes

In response to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the Australian government launched an ambitious Home Insulation Program, and the urging of the Federal government through its agencies, the company (already the country’s largest polyester insulation manufacturer) committed to a further capacity increase in anticipation of the increased volume. In 2010 the HIP program was initially suspended and then some months later was cancelled. This caused significant market disruption and a placed the entire Australian textile fibre industry in severe financial distress. The subsequent Royal Commission found the government’s implementation was rushed and severely flawed. In 2011 Liaskos acquired 100% of the shares in UBF as part of a plan to consolidate the industry’s manufacturing capacity, and which included the acquisition of the non-woven fibres businesses operated by the Smith Family, and Ausmalt Pty Ltd, which also manufactured thermal insulation, as well as Acoustic Industries Pty Ltd, an acoustic insulation products manufacturer. In 2013 the company was restructured, and its textile manufacturing operations reorganized into a new entity, and renamed Pacific NonWovens; continuing to operate primarily as a local manufacturer serving a discrete range of markets with innovative products.
Today

A Return to Roots

The divisionalized structure allowed for a rationalization of operations and consequently three of Australia’s leading companies in their fields, Pacific Brands, CSR and Autex, acquired some of these operations, allowing them in-turn, to further consolidate and strengthen their businesses to allow them to maintain local manufacturing of their products for supply within Australia. This allowed the company to return to its roots, and today UBF’s activities are focussed on supplying high quality polyester products to the craft and homewares markets as well as focussing on new business development. The strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative technological capability which have been the hallmark of UBF’s activities since its very beginning, continue to underpin its products and operations in new markets for the benefits of its customers as a family business and proud supplier of local products.