Seeley International has opened a subsidiary in Johannesburg, South Africa, replacing the licensed distribution system it previously used to service countries in that region.

In a statement announcing the new office, Seeley International founder and executive chairman Frank Seeley said the company was focused on expanding sales of its Australian-made portable air conditioners and evaporative coolers in Africa, which has “some of the harshest weather conditions on the planet”.

“To support our presence there, we welcome to the Seeley International family Mr Hennie Verster as the Africa sales manager and Mr Chris Toomey as the technical manager,” Seeley said. “Until recently Seeley International used a local distributor arrangement, but it is time to grow and service the local market more effectively by offering direct support with more comprehensive on-the-ground services.”

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Verster has previously worked for distributor TurboVent, which appears to have been Seeley’s distributor in southern Africa, according to its website. He said the new subsidiary, which is called Seeley International Africa and has two employees, ” will provide greatly increased support to its extensive dealer network through its own highly-qualified staff ensuring total customer service, from right through sales and installation, to maintenance and diagnostics support”.

At first, this subsidiary will service South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, though Seeley International is quick to stress that, there is “no reason why, in time, more African countries couldn’t be serviced”.

Seeley International is based in South Australia, which is also the home state of another appliance company currently exporting to South Africa: Electrolux. Although this state has been hit hard by car plant closures, there is some optimism for Australian manufacturing.

When Electrolux began exporting its cookers to South Africa in October 2013, then Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade Tom Kenyon (who retained his seat at the recent state election) discussed the viability of appliance manufacturing:

There is a lot of talk at the moment about manufacturing, and how [Australian] manufacturing is terrible and how manufacturing is never going to work, and that we can’t do manufacturing in Australia – well that is bollocks – of course we can do manufacturing in Australia.

Frank Seeley echoed that view today:

This announcement is good news for Seeley International and our staff, good news for South Australia, and good news for all other Australian manufacturers because it demonstrates that a local business can thrive and grow on an international level.

Seeley International began exporting coolers to Iraq in 1980, followed by the United States in 1985, and has opened offices in France, Italy and Spain. The company claims to export appliances to more than 120 countries.