New beginnings for Wangarang as battle continues for survival

PRIDE OF PLACE: Employee Thomas Hayes, Wangarang Industries general manager Kevin McGuire, employee Clinton Manakau and employee Mike Heffernan get to work in the $600,000 building at the Forest Road site. Photo: JUDE KEOGH              502wangrang17

PRIDE OF PLACE: Employee Thomas Hayes, Wangarang Industries general manager Kevin McGuire, employee Clinton Manakau and employee Mike Heffernan get to work in the $600,000 building at the Forest Road site. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 502wangrang17

THE official opening on Friday of the Wangarang Industries extension was a celebration of a battle won in the company’s fight for survival, said member for Orange Andrew Gee. 

The war is still raging but with help from the community, Wangarang will pull through stronger than ever, he says. 

“They’ve been fighting for their survival for a number of years and really this opening is a new phase in 50 years of history,” he said. 

The new premises in Forest Road reduces the organisation’s two sites to one location, allowing them to reduce costs, provide more space, improve community access and integration and expand its services.

Wangarang sold its Barretts Estate site and built the 18.5 metre by 35 metre extension for about $600,000, all from its own coffers. 

The 2016 closure of Electrolux meant Wangarang would lose up to 15 per cent of its business and Mr Gee, member for Calare John Cobb and Orange mayor John Davis called on Orange businesses to ask Wangarang to tender for jobs. 

“They will do what they tell you they will do and they will do it on time,” Mr Cobb said. 

“I commend the work Wangarang does, they are a great asset for our local community. This opening is also a great reminder to local businesses that Wangarang can provide numerous services to assist their operations.”

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Marie Robinson was Wangarang’s longest serving employee and she said the new building meant the world of difference to the lives of people who worked there.

“It means we’re all together, we can help each other.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes over the years, some for good, some not so good but this is definitely good,” she said. 

Wangarang general manager Kevin McGuire said he could not believe the help the company had received from tradespeople in and around Orange to complete the building. 

“So much of the work was pro bono ... we can’t thank them enough,” he said. 

When Wangarang started 50 years ago, Electrolux supplied 80 per cent of its business but gradually that had wound down to 15 per cent which meant Wangarang had to find other income sources. 

Only one third of Wangarang finance comes from the government. 

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