Elecon Products was Rob’s first business venture, a partnership with like-minded colleagues. A bold move, but fortunately successful. Initially, the business was established in a small factory and began produce ready-made aluminium picture frames. Not the frustrating difficult-to- assemble bracket and screw fixings type, but a complete frame ready to use. The key to the product’s success was the precise mitre corner joint. This resulted from a unique aluminium extrusion which, in conjuction with hidden aluminium corner pieces, was assembled in a special press. In effect the joint became pre-stressed, keeping the frame tight and the joint line invisible.
A range of modular sizes and anodized colours were produced, covering most needs, supplemented by a made-to-order service. Not only were Elecon frames ideal for ordinary framing needs but welcomed by the art world for applications such as limited edition prints. A high point for Elecon polished aluminium frames was being chosen by the National Gallery of Victoria to frame the historic Frank Hurley Antarctic Photographic Exhibition.
The business grew rapidly, it moved to larger factory, the range of frames was expanded, followed by the introduction of a range of commercial display equipment. Getting started in any business is a risky business, doubly difficult when based on a new product, so it was a steep learning curve, especially with having to cope with the occasional crisis – shortage of cash, flooded factory during torrential rain, and a 4 week long electricity workers strike. On the positive side, an arrangement was struck with a New Zealand firm to manufacture Elecon frames under licence in Christchurch.
The experience gained was invaluable, and put to good use later on when eventually Rob sold his share of the business and established other new businesses; R.J Wallace Pty Ltd, an engineering design consultancy, the bridge design and construction firm, Waldren Bridges Pty Ltd, and Yaktek Industries,
tank level indicators.