Lawn bowls is Lawfords’ business
Sixty years ago Jim Lawford laid the foundations for his Rochester engineering business to become the leading provider of specialised lawn bowls green-side products in Australia.
The company, ironically only a few hundred metres from Rochester Bowling Club at the end of Ramsay St, is now recognised widely as the go-to-organisation when it comes to ditch and green accessories for the sport.
Jim died four years ago, but his son Peter and partner Kim Mundie, have continued to build on what the company’s founded started.
Lawford Engineering’s status as number one in its field has meant widespread travels for the design and installation team that installs the products for its Australia-wide clientele.
Hence the enthusiasm of the company for its latest contract, a $330,000 upgrade of one green and the surrounds of all three greens at Rochester Bowling Club.
Ms Mundie, a director of the company with Peter Lawford, is overseeing the Rochester club’s re-development.
“Once we are finished here the greens will provide a world standard facility for the members,” she said.
Lawford Engineering was started by Jim 60 years ago, but the shift into lawn bowls ditch design, and the development of associated products, has taken the company to a new level.
“The business has grown substantially through COVID, mainly because we have moved into the social media space,” Ms Mundie said.
“We are now dealing with bowling clubs from throughout Australia. It has become 95 per cent of the business.”
She said the company’s founder initially designed bowls ditches that were “rebound safe’’, mainly because he loved the sport so much.
“Because he was a bowler he designed the ditch so they didn’t have the rebounding issue,” she said.
The company now do “a pour’’ (the equivalent of 10 three-metre-long concrete ditches) once a week.
They are also regularly filled orders for plinths — the steel structure that runs along the edge of the bowling green — rink numbers and scoreboards.
“Our business plan was always to grow the business in this space. We have a great design team who have allowed the company to grow,” Ms Mundie said.
Testament to the quality of work provided by Lawfords is the fact that one stretch of a ditch at the Rochester club, laid by Jim three decades ago, is still in good working order — and doesn’t need to be replaced.
Ms Mundie and Peter Lawford work with five employees to design, prepare and install their products
“We pretty much make anything that is part of a bowling club. Everything from the ditches to things like stainless steel access hand rails,” she said.
“Danielle does most of the work in the accessory space, with rink numbers, scoreboards and markers.”
Her son, Leigh, is the lead engineer with the company, working with his creative team in the welding and design space.
“It is a big team effort, everyone brings something to the table. Peter is the business man and I am the sales component,” she said.
Lawfords’ domination of the lawn bowls business has not come without challenge, but they remain a clear number one choice with Australia’s lawn bowls clubs.
“There have been a couple of businesses come and go in the field,’’ she said.
Working their home town is something a little left of centre for the company, who have done work in Adelaide, NSW, Melbourne and are about to embark on a contract in outback NSW (Bourke).
“I am lucky, I get to see a lot of Australia,” she said.
The Rochester project is a major contract for the company, which will spend the next three months — on and off — on site.
Ms Mundie said it was nice to be able to work in her home town.
“Considering I spend so much time in the car, this is nice,” she said.
The company has worked at major Sydney-based clubs Wentworthville and North Sydney, and Ms Mundie said the product allowed them to offer the same service to small country towns and major city clubs.
Ms Mundie said the Rochester contract would provide the club’s membership with a “much enhanced’’ facility.
“Its greens and surrounds will hit all the world standards of the sport,’’ she said.