Behind the Roller Door

Small to medium sized businesses in the manufacturing and industrial sector are generally not well known as the majority do not distribute products directly to consumers. In addition, a lot of these businesses are carried out in closed factory spaces, with no visibility to the public or other businesses. The Melbourne Business Awards introduced a Behind the Roller Door programme in 2018 to increase awareness of these types of businesses by highlighting the interesting things that some companies do behind their roller doors – the unexpected, the unorthodox, the building blocks behind products we know well, or the products we didn’t know existed.


Nominations were open to businesses that met the following criteria. The business must have:

  • been classed in the manufacturing or industrial sector 
  • been located in the South East Region of Melbourne
  • produced unusual products, or use unusual processes or skills, or had an interesting story to tell

Potential nominees were identified by other organisations through their business interaction, or self-nominated. In all cases, a member of the Melbourne Business Awards committee visited the nominee’s premises to formalise the nomination.

Note: No financial data was sought from nominees.

2018 Behind the Roller Door Nominees

Vesper Tools


Starting out as a self-taught hobbyist woodworker at age 14 in 1994, Chris Vesper began making some tools for personal use after school hours, and was inspired to improve on the quality or design of tools available at the time. After humble beginnings in 1998 selling his first production tools, Chris went on to full time toolmaking in September 2003. The early days of self-taught woodworking experience gave Chris the exceptional ability to design tools that above all else would function as the best in the world while the pleasing aesthetics can be considered a welcome bonus.

To generate sales in the early days he relied on manning a stand at various exhibitions. In 2004 he extended his market base by developing his first web-site, and today he has 50,000 followers on Instagram.

Although exports represent around 50% of his turnover, Vesper Tools is still a humble business today. Chris and one staff member produce around 1,400 hand-made precision tools each year and these tools are not available in Bunnings or Mitre10 – in fact every tool is sold directly to the end user - without door to door selling or sales staff on the payroll.

Over the last 20 years Vesper Tools has earned a reputation for quality tools second to none, with mutual respect from peers, publishers and woodworking notables around the globe. A quick review of his website shows unsolicited praise from all around the world from people who, in the main, have bought his products without being able to feel the tool in their hands. And when they do, they are so delighted that they take the time to tell him how pleased they are. The quality of his tools has also allowed Chris to offer a life-time guarantee on materials and workmanship, and whilst he doesn’t track data on re-work he thinks that only about 5 or 6 tools have needed fixing over 20 years.

And even though this is a small business in every definition of the word, and staying alive has been hard, Chris has moved into his own 500 m2 factory and owns all of the mills, lathes, grinders, and a full suite of woodworking and metalworking equipment in it.

Chris’ passion is also evidenced by an office library of books that pay homage to the history of making things - from the beginning of the industrial revolution or even earlier, and his story is a terrific example of making a career out of self-belief and hard work. 

It is clear that Chris Vesper has poured his heart and soul into trying to make the BEST tools available anywhere in the world – and he is loving what he is doing.

Vesper Tools website -




Next time you bite the head off a Freddo frog, cross the Bolte bridge, watch the tennis in Melbourne, stretch a Natural Confectionery Co snake or see an ad with an ice cream that won't melt but looks good enough to eat, Studio 57F1 was there helping set the foundations to make these successes.

Studio 57F1’s founder David McCausland won a secondary school prize for Art before heading into the new world of Industrial Design at RMIT where he won the GMH award for top student. This led to multiple job offers, but whilst employment provided some additional learnings he also learned lots of life lessons before leaving employment to start his own business.

In 1986 he renovated an old Bakery in Prahran and started getting phone calls from clients who wanted him to make models. Whilst his studio wasn’t finished he spent time with his new milling machine, in the rain, with a Planet lamp, under a giant plastic bag, where he created the Stack-hat for Bayly Design. 

Ten years later, with the help and support of his partner Gilly, they set up a new Studio in Southbank - changing from a small, small business to a truly commercial operation. But planning zone changes and the proposed construction of a new 50 storey building two doors away from the Studio led them to seek another site – away from the construction work and vibration that made it difficult to work with the precision equipment he used in his Studio. The move took them 90 kilometres south to Capel Sound on the Mornington Peninsula.

As well as model making, Studio 57F1 provides a range of specialist services – including creative concepts, scale models, working models, product design, prototypes, advertising props and special effects. They provide a range of capability including 3D scanning, CNC machining, vacuum forming, sculpting, resin casting, silicone moulding, fabrication and restoration.

Studio 57F1’s mission is to be innovative and create successful concepts of the highest quality. Part of that is that David takes his clients on a journey, exploring new ideas to achieve impressive results. They have worked with everything from automotive to aerospace, from furniture to confectionery. They create master models to silicone moulds and resin castings, patterns to production parts. They provide capability from innovative designs and concepts to custom machining and quality finishes for almost every industry.

Their vast client list includes Toyota, Red Bull,  Peters ice-cream, Willow coolers, Elfin Sports Cars, The Natural Confectionery Company, Origin Energy, Cadbury, Laminex, Coca Cola, Holden & HSV, Carlton & United, Nestle and Thirsty Camel.

If you need to take the step into 3 dimensions, in whatever form, for any purpose – talk to David at Studio57F1 on 0414 663 357 or visit the website



When your career to date has consisted of playing Australian Rules Football, undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship, and building a successful fire and storm damage restoration business? Well I guess you would go to night school to study Formulation Chemistry in order to spend three years developing a product and process to waterproof matresses! Well, that is what Bedguard’s founder Peter Carey did.

A chance discussion on problems relating to bed bugs led Peter to take up the challenge of finding a way of providing a resilient, water resistant material that could be used where bed wetting and odour were a regular occurrence for families or organisations such as the Salvation Army, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, aged care facilities and State provided community houses and women’s refuges.


R&D on Bedguard commenced in 2009 on a small scale in Peter’s home until he was able to find an inert polymer that formed a long lasting and unbreakable bond with mattress materials. The polymer then had be tested and approved by the CSIRO to ensure there was no chance of any dangerous off-gases or absorption by contact before being released for its intended purpose. The CSIRO not only gave Peter the all-clear on human health issues, but also tested and rated BedGuard waterproof mattresses as having "Excellent resistance to water penetration of surface".

But developing a suitable coating was only a starting point. He then had to upscale the equipment to apply the polymer to commercial volumes of mattress materials. So Peter built his own oven and trialed different temperatures, travel speeds, air flow rates and rates and patterns of polymer application before he was finally able to duplicate the results he had achieved at home.

What started in 2012 as a treatment for existing mattresses on site has now grown into the supply of mattresses that pioneer the use of new materials and construction.

The damask fabric is loomed in Victoria and is dense, extremely durable and long-lasting. After weaving, an anti-dust mite, anti-bacterial treatment is applied, followed by heat bonding of a flame retardant.

The fabric is then stitched and quilted in a tight pattern to a foam layer which is double the industry standard and, importantly, with a small needle setting to avoid creation of cavities which could become future points of failure.

The water resistant Bedguard chemical is then applied in Peter’s purpose built oven to ensure bonding and encapsulation, including the needle entry points, making the mattresses impenetrable to liquids, solids and odours.


Finally, springs are inserted along with a heavy duty edge wire and edge clips to resist collapse of the boarder construction inside the mattress.

The finished product range includes all sizes from cots to king beds and is a 100% Australian made BedGuard mattress which is anti-dust mite, anti-bacterial, bed bug resistant, flame retardant, odour, liquid and stain repellant.

The product has had zero liquid penetration failures since it was first launched in 2012 and production capacity has grown to 200 beds per month. Not bad for a bloke looking for a new career.