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Almost 30 years ago one of the leading suppliers in Australia to the signage, wide format, garment decoration and vehicle customisation markets introduced itself to the market. The company was Conect Enterprises, established by husband and wife team Tony and Pam Coniglio which has grown and evolved over the years to become the respected and well known institution it is today.
Initially Conect was a supplier for packaging material and specialised tape to the metropolitan market but it quickly grew and evolved, expanding to operate in two physical Victorian locations and another in New South Wales, employing a staff of 50 team members and distributing an impressive array of some of the best known brand solutions in the industry.
Tony looks back on the journey that he has travelled with Pam with pride. "We moved into our first factory in 1990 after just three years in business, then quickly outgrew that factory and bought our second factory in 1995," he says, explaining further that the company opened its first Croydon factory in 2003, then upgraded to a bigger factory in Croydon in 2008 and appointed its first distributor in 2006.
"We expanded to our Lakewood Boulevard factory in Carrum Downs over 10 years ago and only four years ago established a major partnership with Print N Cut Solutions in Dural before acquiring it in 2014, setting ourselves up in New South Wales for the first time," he says.
In addition, two established e-commerce websites, available to customers nationwide 24 hours a day and 7 days a week help customers feel secure that they can get in touch with Conect anytime, anywhere.
With its extensive product range, product knowledge and technical support, Conect is honoured to have built the reputation of "the one-stop-shop for our customers signage needs" and to have been awarded Australian Master Distributor of three major brands - Metamark (2014); Siser (2006) and Stahls' (2016).
"We have a diverse product offering which allows us to have a range of price points for the competitive market. This includes a broad range of heat transfer materials, heat presses and dye sublimation products in Australia," says Tony, pointing out that Siser Heat Transfer Vinyl Materials, Metamark and Avery Dennison products are among Conect's best sellers.
In addition, Conect only partners with reputable manufacturers and brands.
“This is to ensure our products meet the right quality and specification to ensure the needs of our customers,” confirms Tony.
While Tony admits that it is important to stock products that the industry requires, he also believes that it is important for Conect to cater to its client’s needs, which often means going the extra mile.
He can see the merit of working with customers to provide the right solution for the right applications, spending the time needed to get the best outcome and not being focused only on 'getting a sale.'
"We try to keep up to date on the latest trends and are always on the lookout for new products that we believe will help our customers," says Tony.
Add to this Conect's large stock availability, its staff's extensive product knowledge and experience, quick turn around time, genuine issue resolution and after sales support, and it is little wonder that the company has many satisfied customers.
While 30 years of happy customers is proof of a good business, the Coniglio family does not rest on its laurels when it comes to connecting as a family.
Says Tony, "We all have strengths in different areas of the business and work well together because we know what each other's strengths are. We also trust that, as a unit, we will always do the right thing for the business.
"Although it can be challenging at times, we are family first and business second at home. The best advice that I can give to any family owned business would be not to let the business dominate family life - you need to get together as a family as well."
This of course means having other interests too - for both family and staff alike.
Tony and Pam are passionate about harness racing - they breed and race horses, while their daughter, Nicole Howse, Finance and Pay Roll, is currently studying nutrition and has an interest in the health industry.
Until recently Paul Coniglio also worked as an integral part of the business as the General Manager. Paul’s main interests outside the business are travel and the Essendon Football Club, where he has sponsored several players.
Tony and Pam’s son-in-law Nathaniel Howse, National Operations Manager, who has been with Conect for 15 years, has recently purchased 15 acres of land on which he plans to revegetate to provide refuge for local wildlife.