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Over 100 years of making innovative Australian-owned and made Sutton Tools

“Our goal for generations has always been to make the most durable and reliable cutting drill range available,” Jim Sutton

We recently sat down with Jim Sutton to reflect on the 100+ year old family business.

The history, milestones and achievements by Sutton Tools can be traced back to their commitment to keeping the business family-run and owned.

Growing from a small family business back in 1917 to one of the leading Australian tool manufacturers – what is clear from talking with Jim is how staying committed to perfectionism and having pride in one’s work is something that’s been passed down through the family.

Five generations of Sutton’s are still involved in various aspects of the business with Jim Sutton – at 85 years young – still coming into work once or twice a week. The current working family members include Jim Sutton (Board Member), Peter Sutton (Managing Director), Jim’s son Robert (Commercial Director) and now 5th generation Oliver who works in logistics, warehousing and supply. With a long history of Sutton men continuing the Sutton legacy, Jim was also proud to share that his granddaughters have also recently come on board to work in the warehouse while they study. Jim muses that him and his brother Bill were the last engineers left in the family but is impressed by the good work his family are doing for Sutton.

Walking around Sutton Tools’ main premises in Thomastown, an industrial suburb in Melbourne’s north, Jim details origins of the factory being set-up in a converted stable in Westgarth Victoria. Shortly after, Sutton Tools were quickly forced to move to a larger premise by 1925 to keep up with increased demand. By 1959, further growth meant a move to a 4,180 square metre factory to today’s current Thomastown location.

Sutton Tools’ high-quality tools and accessories are used extensively by industry manufacturing, trade professionals and the DIY market. Originally manufacturing threads and gauges, Sutton Tools progressively expanded into a broader range of cutting tools. The 1960’s saw a boom in home renovations and Sutton Tools was right there meeting the market needs – with the DIY drill bit market now making up a large share of Sutton Tools current output.

Investment in research and development has continued throughout Sutton Tools’ history, resulting in several ‘industry first’ solutions. One of these was an initiative in 1960 to adopt the best method of producing the finest drill in the world. Jim Sutton recalls his father pressuring him and Bill to reinvest in new machines every year to help maintain the quality of drill bits produced. The control over machines and standards is one of the main reasons as to why Sutton Tools never conceded to pressures to move their manufacturing overseas (compared with some of their competitors).

The Covid-19 global pandemic caused delays in overseas shipping around the world, meaning Australian buyers started further supporting Australian-made and owned products. Sutton Tools continues to be a name that tradesman, DIYers and industry alike know and trust to get their reliable cutting drills in an unreliable market.

From Australian tools to Aerospace in Europe, Sutton Tools can make tools that were impossible to make 15 years ago on their machines. With intense accuracy required for the Aerospace projects, Sutton Tools continues to support industries that require innovation and precision.

The Sutton Tools’ ethos for durable and reliable products (above all else) is not just a business goal, but a family value that is continued today.