A page from Cyclone's 1939 product catalogue (with permission Cyclone Hardware).
 
  Early in the Cyclone takeover, Boral had received acceptances for less than 10 per cent and it was obvious to Neal that the bid would not be successful. He arranged a meeting with Tubemakers' managing director, Jock Gosse. That company owned about 14 per cent of Cyclone and asked him whether they would accept Boral's offer. Gosse's response was that Tubemakers was not anti-Boral or anti-Cyclone, but that they thought they would wait until Boral got past 50 per cent and then make a decision on their shareholding. Neal told him that if every shareholder felt as he did, it would be impossible for Boral to get to 50 per cent! Neal told him that Boral did not propose to close Cyclone down; Boral proposed to expand the business and felt that the offer was worthy of support. Gosse then said, 'Well, I'll have to talk to the chairman, Sir Ian McLennan, it's up to him'. It was a Friday afternoon and Neal recalls going into Boral's monthly board meeting at nine-thirty on the following Monday and saying to his secretary, 'If a call comes through from Jock Gosse of Tubemakers, interrupt me in the board meeting'. This she did about an hour later. Neal left the meeting to take the call and was advised that McLennan had authorised Gosse on behalf of the board to accept Boral's offer. Boral jumped from a holding of around 10 per cent to 30 per cent, and the takeover was won. Until Neal retired, Cyclone continued to be a customer of Tubemakers and Australian Wire Industries because he felt that they had supported Boral at that crucial time. There was no request by either company that Boral do so, but Neal believed customer-supplier loyalty was important.

Around this time Neal first came to the attention of the Australian business media. In October 1975, when Boral began its steady list of takeovers by picking up Cyclone, the Bulletin described him as 'a plain-speaking man who "tells it as it is" and has little use for management jargon'.
   
 
Cyclone's History

Cyclone was formed in the early 1890s, when Leonard Chambers entered into a partnership with William Thompson to manufacture beekeepers' hives and accessories. They also imported and distributed queen bees, to improve the existing strain of Australian bees.

In the mid 1890s, Chambers read a small advertisement in an issue of a US beekeepers' journal that proclaimed the merits of a manually operated machine able to weave wire fencing directly onto previously erected fence posts. Envisaging the scope for such a fence in Australia Chambers contacted the manufacturers, Lane Bros, who had established the Cyclone Fence Company in the United States. Negotiations to secure the Australian rights were successfully carried out by mail and Cyclone Woven Wire Fence Company was established in Melbourne in 1898. Initially all the wire and pickets had to be imported from the United States as the Australian steel industry was nonexistent.

By 1912 Cyclone was well established. However, Chambers was always on the lookout for new business opportunities and in 1913 embarked on a disastrous episode for the company. Again, while studying an American magazine he came across an advertisement for a 'home canning outfit' for fruit growers and market gardeners. It enabled fresh produce to be canned immediately, reputedly providing greater profit to the producers. Chambers decided to import the kits from the United States. It quickly became apparent that highly specific technical knowledge was necessary, as was a supply of cans. Some local producers were experiencing problems with the product, and Chambers decided that Cyclone would embark on a fairly bold course manufacturing its own cans and timber cases for packaging and marketing these products under the Cyclone name.

The 'home canning outfit' exercise came to an abrupt halt because it could not be guaranteed that the cans would be totally airtight when sealed. This resulted in the tins 'blowing', both in the hands of the customers and in Cyclone's warehouse. The company was forced to withdraw the product and dump its stock at a substantial loss and so Cyclone's canning venture came to an inglorious end.
     
 


 
  Cyclone Pty Ltd was incorporated in 1914, just before World War I; soon afterwards the company, like many manufacturing businesses, experienced difficulties, particularly in acquiring supplies of raw materials. Deliveries of imported goods were extremely unreliable and the prices high - wire cost an exorbitant 7 pounds a ton.

In 1925 the company changed its name to Cyclone Fence and Gate Company Pty Ltd, more accurately reflecting its principal business activities. It survived the 1930s Depression without trading at a loss and in 1937 secured the Australian agency for tubular scaffold fittings manufactured by London and Midland Steel Scaffolding Co.

With World War II, Cyclone, with its expertise in the wire industry, was quickly requisitioned to provide supplies for military purposes. The wartime demands stretched the capabilities both of the company's plants and personnel to their limit. Consequently, by the time peace was declared in 1945, Cyclone's civilian trade had totally dropped off.

In 1947, after obtaining advice from the stockbroking firm Ian Potter and Co., the directors formally registered Cyclone Company of Australia as a publicly listed company. The new capital in the company was offered to the existing thirty shareholders and to the general public on a two-thirds to one-third allocation. Shares were offered to the public at an issue price of 1 pound with a premium of 1 pound and were eagerly sought.

In 1958, Cyclone decided to enter the aluminium window market, due to the increasing demand for this product. They also introduced a new range of hand and garden tools and expanded the scaffolding operations to Canberra to cater for the upsurge in building development in the federal capital.
  The Sydney Opera House during construction, featuring Cyclone scaffolding.  
 
Boral took over Cyclone in 1976. The window division was consolidated with the purchase of Dowell aluminium and timber windows in 1988. Dowell Australia Limited can be traced back to 1857. With well-established operations in all states, Dowell continues to trade under its own name.

In 1993, the Boral board decided to concentrate on its core businesses. The company floated Azon Limited and sold many manufacturing subsidiaries including Cyclone Hardware and wire meshing, as well as other businesses acquired over the years that were no longer strategically important. Boral did, however, retain the scaffolding and window businesses it had gained through the original takeover.
 

Dowell logo.
 
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