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Leadership at Planex

03 . 02 . 2020

Jean-Pierre Jardel

As the Managing Director of Planex, Jean-Pierre Jardel has formed his business through a vision that encompasses ethics, hard work and generosity to achieve success on every level.

The story of both Jean-Pierre or JP (as he is affectionately known) and Planex is about his two families, his father and mother who created the company and the people with whom he works. His objective is to make a difference in life for the better and he does this through sincerity and a passion for sustainability.

The idea of Planex was born from JP’s father, Fernand Jardel, who first visited Australia in 1957 as a member of a French geo-physical expedition travelling to study in Antarctica. On completion of the 18-month secondment at the South Pole he then returned to Paris, and after many subsequent trips between France and Australia, Fernand, his wife Georgette and their four children decided to immigrate to Australia and live in Melbourne.

As an engineer familiar with products designed from sheet metal, Fernand along with some colleagues, established Vertiplan, a business that designed and manufactured plan cabinets for the government, industrial and commercial sectors. Vertiplan was a success however Fernand decided to establish his own company in 1972 which he named Planex.

Concurrently, JP was studying at Monash University and received his Honours degree and subsequently a Doctorate in Biology. He spent his vacations working in the family company learning the business from top to bottom and, eventually with his father about to retire, he decided to join Planex fulltime and take over the running of the company. Fernand believed that his son should earn the right to lead the business and did not gift Planex to JP and so an arrangement was made to sell the company to his son over a 10-year period.  

As a scientist who was also passionate about the manufacture of steel cabinetry JP set about implementing his own particular ideas and the first of these was to up-scale and move from the original 3000 square metre factory in Cheltenham to Hallam and a 7500 square metre purpose-built facility. Installing the latest technology was an imperative and so plans for the new factory included the most up-to-date systems and a re-analyzing of processes and procedures, review of products and modernisation of the distribution network.

From the beginning of his tenure as principal of Planex, JP has subscribed to only the highest ethics of business. His overwhelming desire is to respect his clients and those who work for him and this idea of respect includes a deep regard and passion for the environment. JP has propelled Planex to become a leader in manufacturing through ever-evolving and refined environmental processes that help both the planet and his business. He has instigated the installation of 1020 solar panels on the factory roof to help supplement electricity usage, embraced changes to manufacture to reduce gas usage and is committed to investigating and implementing more environmentally sensitive waste management practices. He is mindful of ‘treading the earth lightly’, not just talking about sustainability but actually making a real and practical difference.

Planex is a small to mid-size manufacturer within its industry with some 50 personnel but it is forging ahead from its peers in the recycling of waste materials such as packaging, steel off-cuts and powder coat residue. JP is also mindful to buy components from ethical businesses that only subscribe to fair labour practices and he is absolutely passionate about producing a sustainable Australian designed and made product.

As Planex moves into a new decade of sustainable evolution so too are the designs that are produced in-house and in collaboration with other designers. The adaptive steel storage cabinets, lockers, planter boxes, tambours and room dividers provide a unique opportunity for individual customisation with more than 250,000 combinations of components to design a unique offering. There are new products on the drawing board and there is always the opportunity for an architect or designer to collaborate to produce a bespoke design solution.

With a plan for the future, JP is working to provide the very best design solutions for clients and forging ahead with sustainable initiatives to lighten the load on the environment which now more than ever is imperative. It is a truly singular vision that makes not only the products produced by Planex unique but the company as well.