100-year-old firm eyes expansion after lockdowns

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Fallshaw Group started making wheelchairs 100 years ago and despite the challenges of the global pandemic, it is set to expand.

In a recent interview with NAB CEO Ross McEwan, Fallshaw Group Managing Director Jo Fallshaw discussed her business’s long history, future plans and biggest challenges.


Ms Fallshaw’s grandfather Percy Fallshaw started the business in North Melbourne making wheelchairs. His son Robert later ran the business for 45 years. “And then I plucked up my courage and bought out my three siblings and it’s now mine,” Ms Fallshaw said.

“We’ve diversified beyond manufacturing just wheels and castors and we now do a broad range of mobility solutions to help you push, pull and lift with ease,” she said. That includes power trolleys and bin lifters and hospital equipment.

Like most business owners, Ms Fallshaw has found the global pandemic challenging, although she counts herself lucky that Fallshaw Group has been able to continue to trade. “This year we can’t travel and we are in a bit of a holding pattern,” she said.

However, she added that she was aiming to expand her business, and lift exports from 20 per cent to 50 per cent in the long-term.

Ms Fallshaw told Mr McEwan that other challenges to her business beyond Covid-19 were payroll tax, stamp duty, planning red tape and getting staff with the right skills.

Ms Fallshaw is not alone in planning for growth. A recent NAB report found 7 in 10 Australian firms are planning to invest to grow their business in the next 12 months.

The report titled From Survival to Success, found the top reason preventing firms from growing is general uncertainty due to COVID. Almost 3 in 10 firms say greater certainty on COVID restrictions would encourage them to invest. And 1 in 5 firms  said greater levels of COVID vaccinations would help.

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