From Proof to AusProof – An Intercontinental Journey

When it stands the test of time, works in the harshest conditions in the world, and meets all your expectations, then you know you have a quality product.’ – Founding Director Philip Marks

There’s a saying, a driving influence, that Founding Director Philips Marks has lived by: ‘Opportunities are never lost, others just pick them up.’

After completing his service with the South African Defence Force, Philip began his apprenticeship as a Tool and Die Maker, working with and learning a lot from his father during this time, going on to found Proof Engineering in 1977. The following year, an opportunity presented itself when Philip was approached to develop his first 4-way junction box. This marked the beginning of a long line of significant opportunities.

One of the first that followed was a little Christmas holiday Philip took to Australia to enjoy a nice, cold beer by the pool. Why is this so important? Because it was during this trip that he met the love of his life, wife and best friend Wendy. By each other’s sides “for better or worse”, if you can’t find Philip at the factory, you’ll likely find him out and about with Wendy, going to the gym, cycling, walking, sailing, fishing, out-rigging, or travelling the world to view wildlife in their natural habitats.

Returning with Wendy to South Africa, Philip saw the interest in his 4-way junction box as another opportunity, and took interest in electrical engineering and electrical conductivity. From 1980 to the early 1990’s, Philip continued to take on opportunities that came his way, such as designing the world’s first 22kV coupler, expanding his electrical knowledge at Witwatersrand University, and conducting the first ever tests for phase to phase faults.

Selling Proof Engineering in 1994 and relocating with his wife and children, Shona and Aston, to Wendy’s home of Australia, opportunity came knocking once more, a contact getting in touch about manufacturing couplers in Australia. Starting fresh gave Philip the chance to challenge himself, to design even better products, to meet the industry’s needs: ‘You need to listen to your market, find out what their problems are. You’ve got to listen to them, feel their pain.’

In the early days, it was a slog getting AusProof on its feet. Often spending 7 days a week in the factory, Philip had to manage a delicate balancing act of being Philip the Founding Director and Philip the father. He credits his wife in sharing this burden, as both an amazing mother and essential part of AusProof as a co-Founding Director (as well as somehow being able to make sure he had a couple of dollars in his wallet on Friday’s to relax with a beer).

Over its 30 years AusProof has grown in size and scale, continuing to seize opportunities as they came, refusing to stagnate even during economic downturns, embracing new technology, and conquering so-called “failures”. ‘Failure improves a product in the end,’ says Philip. ‘If you don’t have failures you are not pushing it to the limit. Don’t see failures as failures, see them as opportunity, a challenge to overcome.’

While experiencing it’s fair share of hard times, tests and trials, during its time AusProof has also seen many a success that has made Philip proud. ‘It’s an achievement for Wendy and myself, that our couplers are on every continent in the world.’ A humble person, one of Philip’s proudest moments with AusProof is not even one of his own, but when son Aston completed his MBA and took over as Managing Director.

AusProof has established itself as a company that does not compromise on quality, that thrives on “failure” and challenges, that listens to its customer base in order to help them achieve their own goals; ‘Running AusProof has been hard, but it’s been our life, and it’s been good to us.’ What does the next 30 years look like for Philip? Who knows! He’s already tried retirement once before, it didn’t really suit him, so maybe in another 30 years we’ll hear from him once again!


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