As one of Australia's oldest companies, Furphy Foundry is proud of its heritage and a strong dedication to producing excellent products has always been paramount. Furphy Foundry's commitment to manufacturing such high-quality products was first summarised in 1910 when company founder, John Furphy inscribed the following words on the cast ends of a Furphy Water Cart:
"GOOD, BETTER, BEST - NEVER LET IT REST - TILL YOUR GOOD IS BETTER - AND YOUR BETTER, BEST."
Today, Furphy Foundry is a diversified foundry and manufacturing company - specialising in Urban Design Products such as Picnic Settings, Park Seats, Benches, Bollards, Litter Receptacles, Bike Racks and more.
Click here for an extensive historical overview...
His was the third business in Shepparton following Sherbourne Sheppard's River Punt and Inn.
He had followed his farther and brother Joseph from Kyneton and went on to establish his own Blacksmith enterprise in the town in 1867. John was 32 when he arrived in Shepparton via the Punt from Mooroopna where he had been unable to secure appropriate land.
Johns brother Joseph went from farm labouring to owning and operating his own bullock teams up into the Riverina [N S W] and was later to become one of Australia's most prominent authors with his works "Such is Life." It is known that much of his writing was carried out while living and working in his brother's foundry and adjacent cottage when his bullock teams failed through the drought years of the 1890's.
In the 1880's with the addition of a "Cupula Furnace", "Furphy's Blacksmiths" became a major employer in the town and district. The Blacksmiths shop had now become a foundry (production of iron castings) and had become known as "Furphy's Foundry"
By the 1900's there were 38 employees providing a range of cast iron products such as Plough wheels, shears, hubs, bearings, cogs etc, to other Blacksmiths all around Victoria and the Riverina areas of NSW.
The advent of a casting capability gave rise to those inventions, the cast ends of the water cart became the foundation from which the cart was built, (a rolled cylinder fitted over the ends by way of a shrink band that sealed and bound the tank into a single unit.) The cast ends became famous for their words cast in, and later more prominently raised lettering for advertising and slogans such as;
"Good, Better, Best ---- Never Let It Rest, ---- Till Your Good Is Better, ---- And You're Better Best,"
In 1906 the foundry moved from Wyndham St to a site near the new rail line. The plant was modernized with the addition of a Gas Suction engine to drive a large D C generator. The close vicinity of the rail was by then a major advantage as the Water Cart was being freighted all over Australia.
Furphy's Foundry was one of the few electrically powered factories in Victoria at that time.
Sometime in 1908 the generating plant was moved to the recreation reserve in Shepparton for an athletic carnival under lights. John Furphy shared his brother Joe's flair for writing and it was used to great advantage in advertising his company's product, for instance, on his farm gates he wrote "My price for 12 foot gate with rails, hangings and fastenings with the name of the owner or place cast on the centre in raised letters is only four pounds, I have made very little out of them, except for the satisfaction of spreading the marks of civilisation."
John Furphy retired from the foundry at the age of 67, leaving his three sons, William, George and Charles.
Third generation Furphy, Jack son of George and grandson of the founder, started with the business in 1925 and took control of the assemble of product, his cousins Fred and Albert, sons of William took control of engineering and administration respectively.
In1938 the partnership was made a company known as "J Furphy and Sons P\L" with six directors William, George, Charles, Fred, Albert and Jack, and later joined by Graeme Furphy a nephew of Fred and Alberts. Second generation Furphy's William George and Charles passed on and in 1960 Jack Furphy bought out his cousins Fred and Albert and second cousin Graeme.
In the 1960's Jack Furphy's two sons Roger and Andrew were introduced to the company, after Roger was apprenticed to a Melbourne foundry and studied at RMIT, and Andrew trained in welding and engineering locally.
A third son of Jacks, Tim was involved for a short period.
In 1978 the city of Shepparton had grown to the extent that the foundry found its location centred in town and no longer tenantable from the point of further expansion and a pollution factor from furnaces.
The company relocated to a 10 acre industrial site on the corner of Dookie and Drummond Rds developed by the then Shepparton Shire. Modern offices and engineering building and plant were set up, and finally a new foundry and offices were built on the rear five acres of the new site.
By 1984 a large steel sales area was built, as well as the first of a number of Galvanizing plants developed. Furphy's was now a major employer with staff more than 200.
Stainless steel, and large vessel fabrication was growing the business, the foundry at that time had large contracts with "State Rivers and Water Commission", [pipe fittings] "Telstra" [manhole covers] and produced cooking stoves, potbelly stoves and a range of cookware including Furphy's range of camp ovens.
In 1989 Roger (foundry) and Andrew (engineering) agreed to divide the company into two divisions.
The engineering division keeping the name "J Furphy and Sons P\L" was transferred to Andrew who became owner manager, and the foundry maintained the original trading name "Furphy's Foundry P\L" and was transferred to Roger who became owner manager.
The two companies still work from the same site on 5 acres each, until recent land acquisition has allowed J Furphy and Sons to increase production areas considerably.
Since the 1990's Furphy's Foundry P\L has become a major supplier of street and park furniture throughout Australia. It still operates a casting facility.
(Although the old Cupula iron furnaces have been replaced with Gas fired furnaces and most casting is now in Aluminium.)
Roger Furphy continued as owner manager of Furphy's Foundry until 2000 when he handed over to his son Sam, (now fifth generation) 2000 was also the year of the final production of the now famous Water Cart ends, (the final cast run of 100 commemorative tank ends sold to collectors with a 21'st edition of word change over a period of 120 years)
Sam Furphy (Furphy's Foundry P\L) and his cousin Adam Furphy (J Furphy and Sons P\L both continue their respective fifth generation association with a company still family owned since 1864 in Shepparton.
To find out more about the rich history of Furphy, head to our dedicated museum at Shepparton (opening in October 2014).