A successful partnership

Attard Sheet Metal is a family owned business located in Lismore NSW. Established in 1982 by John Attard, fabricating air conditioning ductwork, originally for a Gold Coast company.

As business improved, he employed his first apprentice and moved to larger premises employing more tradesmen. Eventually in 1986, he built our current factory in Habib Drive. As the business grew, it was increasingly difficult for John to manage both the office and factory, so he offered his brother, Paul, a partnership. He didn’t have to ask Paul twice, as he always loved this area. In November 1988, Paul, his wife Jacki and then 6 month old daughter Emily made the move up from Sydney. The partnership worked well as John was always hands on in the factory, looking after the day to day workings.

Paul’s background before joining John was in the sheet metal industry as well, working for Thos. Clark, a leading Air Conditioning Company; he completed his apprenticeship as well as a post trade course, progressing into the drawing office for 6 years, then engineering department and also the commissioning department, during this time successfully completing his engineering certificate. Later moving on to join Environ Mech. Services, where Paul was responsible for inner city air-conditioning tenancy fit outs for major city commercial buildings.

Extending the business

So with John’s workshop and site experience and Paul’s engineering background, it all complemented itself and jelled together very well. In 1989 they extended the factory and doubled its original size. In the early nineties they changed the company’s direction from mainly dealing with a couple of Air Conditioning companies, to offering a greater range of products, all in different fields of work. To achieve this, additional specialised machinery was purchased. This opened the doors to a larger range of customers.

In the early 1990’s Attards got involved in wood heating, at first keeping just a couple of models of wood heaters on display. They started manufacturing flue kits and other flue components, and gradually introduced more and more models of wood heaters.

In 2005 John retired from the business and since, with great help from Paul’s wife and fellow workers, Attard Sheet Metal continued to be successful and grow.

In 2011 Attard Sheet Metal expanded their diversity by acquiring the well-known and long standing business of Bowmans Asbestos Removal Equipment. Bowmans was established originally in Sydney back in the 1970’s, but a few years earlier had moved their operation to Casino Northern NSW. Attards had already been dealing with John Bowman over some time producing sheet metal panels for some of Bowmans equipment.

Bowmans offer a range of Negative Air Units and Decontamination Showers for companies that deal with the removal of Asbestos and hazardous dust materials.

With the combination of Attards engineering and sheet metal experience and the long established Bowmans products, Attards then offered the Attguard range of reliable and efficient equipment for safe work environments.

A New Beginning

In 2016 Paul Attard had started to think about maybe retiring someday and had been unsure of when or how he would do it. Around that time James van Hest who had mutual friends at the go karting track was working locally as a tradesman for Phillip Mathews.

It was an ongoing joke with one of these mutual friends that James should work for Paul which led him to muster up the courage to chat with Paul about the possibility of taking over the business.

After speaking with Paul, James realised how big of a job it would be to take over the business by himself and so decided to ask a friend Adric Maggs if he would like to go into business together. James thought they were likeminded people and had seen Adric trying to start a business working from his own back yard shed.

So in 2017 James and Adric both started working for Paul at Attard Sheet Metal. Over the next 3 years both James & Adric learnt both the factory and the office inside and out. Paul had taught James and Adric to the extent that they were managing the business mostly on their own.

In 2020 Paul had sold the sheet metal and wood heater side of the business to James and Adric which was when the company Attards Metal & Heaters began, following on from Attard Sheet Metal.

At this stage Paul still owned & was running the Attguard side of the original business in the last bay of the South Lismore shed. After a little while longer, Paul was able to also sell the Attguard business and could finally retire (except for the occasions when James and Adric ask for his experience & advice on certain jobs).

Now Attards continues into the future with the strong partnership of James & Adric, just as it did with John & Paul for all those years.

An Insight Into James & Adric

James van Hest

James’s family (4 generations) is from Lismore but grew up in the bush at Tuntable Falls and was always hands on and outside.

James did his schooling in Nimbin and during high school he was going to Tafe doing Plumbing pre-apprenticeship course. He completed several school-based “work experience” placements already, and then got the opportunity to do one with Byron Steel in 2007 (who shortly after offered him an apprenticeship).

At Byron Steel James learnt a lot from building sheds, houses, handrails, staircases, awnings, general repairs & whatever came in the door. By the time James was in the 3rd year of his apprenticeship he was working with the tradesmen building Stainless handrails, Stainless kitchen benches, Aluminium welding jobs and more.

In 2013 James got a job with Phillip Mathews in Lismore as a trademan where he continued to fabricate and weld a wide variety of different jobs.

Now with Attards Metal & Heaters, James continues to grow and expand his skills, in both the workshop & office.

Adric Maggs

Adric was born & grew up in Adelaide until the age of 15, when the family moved to Darwin. Adric left school at the same time as they moved to Darwin and worked on deep sea fishing boats, for a commercial mowing contractor and in retail sales.

In 1999 Adric arrived in Lismore where he completed a retail traineeship, worked as a self-employed courier with a van, and a variety of other jobs. In 2002 at the age of 20 Adric completed a pre-apprenticeship TAFE course and started an apprenticeship with Phillip Mathews.

While working for Phillip Mathews he got to do a wide variety of metal fabrication & welding, including light & medium fabrication and a lot of aluminium fabrication.

During his career Adric has also lived & worked in Mount Isa, for Mount Isa Mines. This gave him the opportunity to gain experience in heavy fabrication and working on some very large jobs.

Now at Attards Metal & Heaters he has gained a whole new set of sheet-metal based fabrication techniques to add to his existing skillset. Adric also enjoys designing parts using CAD drawing and getting hands on in the workshop.

Supporting the local community

Over the years Attards has always supported “Work Placement/Work Experience” for the local senior school students.

We still take in either year 10, 11 or year 12 students that share an interest of metal work and give them an insight to our sheet metal trade.

Over the week we try to give the students an idea of the skills required in the sheet metal & light fabrication industry. By the end of the week they are usually capable enough to have fabricated a small toolbox from plans provided to them. The students are quite proud of their achievement and place one of our logo stickers on the toolbox as a finishing touch. Once complete the students get to take it home as a gift from us.

By exposing students to a work environment, it will allow them to contemplate a possible future in the metal industry.

Over the years Attards have supported and will continue to support local sports clubs such as Junior soccer teams, local junior and senior netball, the Lismore Go-kart Club, as well as the local community music awards, North Coast Street Machine Show N Shine, MS society, various volunteer services such as the SES and local businesses.