David Vicino speaks about family and work as if they’re one and the same – because for his family-owned business, they are.
Speaking with David, the Managing Director of aerospace manufacturing company SYPAQ, it’s easy to forget that you’re talking about advanced machinery for our defence force.
The focus of the conversation is centred around family, purpose and honouring the past.
“We’re very much custodians of a culture that is tied and steeped in family values and that’s to ensure we never forget who we are, where we come from or why we started the company in the first place,” he says.
David’s father founded SYPAQ in 1992 after serving in the Air Force for 22 years. He finished his last posting when he was in his early forties but remained passionate about the defence sector. As David explains, he had a desire to “put Australia back on the world map when it came to developing and delivering world class aerospace technology.”
David’s father is Chairman and his mother is co-owner and Director, both sitting on SYPAQ’s Board. His brother is SYPAQ’s accountant and David himself is Managing Director - it truly is a family business.
But another, more remarkable and enduring family value at SYPAQ is the openness and authenticity with which they operate. They focus on their staff, having regular get-togethers and staying connected, even during a pandemic.
“We make sure we don’t miss an opportunity to thank the loved ones of our staff members for allowing them to do what they do.” David says, as well as encouraging family of staff to work at SYPAQ.
For a company that builds autonomous systems, including drones and other innovative aerospace machinery for Australia’s defence force, they don’t lose sight of what is important to them, their staff and their customers – family. And there is a good reason for that.
“It ties us to what our customer’s end goal is and that is to defend Australia’s national interest but to do that, we as a country put people in harm’s way to perform those duties. And those people have families.”
David goes on to say, “So we often use that as a bit of a motivation to say whatever we build, whatever we design, whatever we provide to our customer, it needs to do a job that gives our people a competitive edge but also allows them to get home safely.”
To David and his family, there is nothing more important than the people that make up the business. “Our goal is to create a sense of belonging, empowerment and authenticity internally so that people feel a real sense of purpose to the end mission when they come here.”
SYPAQ are a national – even global – company and have just moved into a new facility in Fishermans Bend with support from the Victorian Government. The new Centre of Excellence will be their head office for the foreseeable future, creating 280 high-value jobs over the next five years. David said the company jumped at the chance to make Fishermans Bend their home.
“At the first opportunity, we wanted to set up camp in Fishermans Bend because it would pay homage to the aerospace pioneers and trailblazers of the past – as a true sovereign industrial capability, we’d be able to draw inspiration from that storied history.”
Fishermans Bend has a strong history in the field of aerospace engineering and manufacturing. It was where the first Wirraway military aircraft was built in Australia and many other defence aircraft types were rolled out during the second world war.
“I visualise what it must’ve been like in the 30s and 40s and 50s, obviously during war time,” David explains, “Just the sheer focus on getting product off the production line out to the user so that they can do the job they need to do.”
Fishermans Bend, which is already home to global firms like Boeing, Leonardo and Siemens, is growing to be a world class hub of manufacturing and design once again, which David is counting on.
“There’s so much history tied to what we do. We hope our staff can draw inspiration from that.”
Being in Fishermans Bend exemplifies a pivotal moment for SYPAQ – positioned firmly in the strong roots of Australian aerospace manufacturing while looking forward to the future.
“Fishermans Bend reminds us of what’s actually possible if you’re brave enough, if you’re entrepreneurial enough, if you’re smart enough, if you’re determined enough. It serves as a reminder to our people that this precinct holds a very special place in the history of military aerospace and engineering.”
Using “our culture as our compass”, David is confident in taking the SYPAQ family through its next phase of growth and continuing to deliver what’s important for the defence sector, with authenticity, purpose and care.