New book covers Bartlett’s big story

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MARKING over sixty-five years of leading work in the manufacture of industrial textiles, Bartlett Manufacturing of Ballarat has released a coffee table book that shares the full story of the brand.

Written by prolific historian Phil Roberts, Covering Australia and beyond covers the history of the family business on 274 pages, from its creation until mid-2021, the evolution of fabrics, methods and products.

In 1956, railroad worker and sailmaker Cliff Bartlett began mending tarps in his living room with a second-hand sewing machine, earning extra money for his growing family and that of his wife Joyce by night.

“People left the tarp on the doorstep. Cliff and Joyce didn’t sleep that night until they finished the job, and they delivered it the next day,” Roberts said.

“Cliff’s reputation for quality and reliability grew very quickly and he left the railroads in 1958.”

His son John Bartlett said the business had “continuously evolved” since then and was more than just a manufacturer of blinds.

They now have seven divisions; blinds, grain, defense, water and tank liners, RV, business and general. Bartlett employs 130 people, including fourth-generation family members, at four manufacturing plants.

An innovator and problem solver, some Bartlett production highlights have included the Flexiflume, tank liners and winning a contract to be the main supplier of tents, tarps, bags, awnings and more for the Forces. Australian defences.

Bartlett Manufacturing CEO Dave O’Brien said one of the most interesting bits of the company’s history is how it became Australia’s leading manufacturer of industrial textiles, exporting to 26 countries around the world.

“A Ballarat-based company leads the industry and our knowledge is world-renowned,” he said.

Roberts said writing the book was a challenge, but a privilege, and appreciated the support of John Bartlett who was able to provide historical material on the company, employees and products.

The book will be officially launched this week at a private reception at Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute. Those wishing to purchase a copy of the book can contact Bartlett at 5339 3103.

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