Our Story: Crafting Quality, Building Legacies

In the post-war era in 1948, a young and enthusiastic Russell Cox, aged 22, embarked on a journey that would shape the destiny of a family-run business. Armed with training in metallurgy, Russell’s knowledge involved understanding the intricacies of metal properties and their transformations, mastering the alchemy of extracting and refining metals like iron, steel, aluminium, nickel, and copper.

Russell’s initial steps into the world of water treatment began at the Launceston City Council’s Distillery Creek Water Treatment Plant. The role demanded a chemistry background and his metallurgical training proved invaluable. At the time water quality was assessed by manual chemical testing and rain events became synonymous with manual adjustments at the water treatment plant. His interest in detailed problem solving flourished, marking the family’s first steps into the realm of water treatment.

In 1952, Russell Cox embarked on a new chapter, moving to Hobart to lend his expertise to the renowned British company Murex, specialists in welding equipment and consumables. His role involved the intricate development and technical documentation of welding electrodes and fluxes, particularly those vital in hard-facing applications. Russell’s technical expertise became a cornerstone in investigating infrastructure failures, addressing challenges ranging from hydroelectric pipelines for the Hydro Electric Commission to the tragic Westgate Bridge disaster in 1970, where 35 lives were lost due to metal fatigue.

The early 1970s saw the acquisition of Murex Australia by CIG, later absorbed by BOC. While the research division migrated to Melbourne, Russell chose a different path to stay and set up his own business. Transitioning from the laboratory environment to the dynamic world of business posed challenges in the initial years, but his unwavering commitment to quality remained steadfast.

By 1975, the seeds planted during those challenging early years began to bear fruit and he decided to launch the business under the name of Southland Industries. The ensuing decade unfolded with remarkable growth, expanding into sheet metal manufacturing, industrial ventilation equipment, and architectural cladding. Russell’s three sons—Terry, Tim, and James—joined the business during this time.

Russell’s emphasis on quality workmanship became the lifeblood of the business. Russell not only constructed structures but also relationships. His customers could depend on him to provide solutions, and his network flourished within the construction industry, hardware wholesalers, and retailers.

The narrative of Southland Industries took a turn when Russell’s son, James became intrigued by how technologies could be used to solve common water problems.

James, along with his brother Tim, identified an opportunity to expand the business. Southland Filtration emerged, addressing specific filtration needs as customers in the construction industry, hardware wholesalers, and retailers sought their expertise. It was a move that aligned with their father’s commitment to building customer relationships with new solutions.

James and Tim’s endeavours forged connections with European suppliers, including a longstanding partnership with backwash filter supplier Judo. Southland Filtration thrived as customers sought filtration solutions to specific water needs. From assisting the Lark family in their early whisky endeavours in their kitchen to cultivating a network of customers interstate, they were laying the foundation for a national presence.

Entering the mid-1990s, the filtration business continued to grow. Its potential was recognised it was separated into a standalone division under the Southland Industries umbrella. The filtration division emerged as the powerhouse of growth within Southland Industries, and in 2019, the bold step was taken to establish it as a separate entity – Southland Filtration Pty Ltd.

Today, Southland Filtration manufactures and supplies quality specialised products under its own brand names such as SKAN, Healthshield, DEFENDER, and MediaPRO.

James and Tim’s children are now part of the business. Driven by the vision, energy, and ideas of the next generation, the family business remains in a constant state of evolution. The essence of the journey lies in finding tailored solutions for customers, upholding the highest standards of workmanship, and fostering enduring relationships.