By Michelle Dryburgh
MASTERS OF THEIR TRADE
National excellence locally
Darwin is home to a branch of one of Australia’s most successful electro-technology companies, the only one of its kind in the nation.
Nilsen has delivered industry-leading services to major developments throughout the Northern Territory, and continues to support the local community with employment and training opportunities. This month DarwinLife Magazine learns more about the intriguing history of Nilsen, as it prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday.
Many people are surprised to learn Nilsen produced the Australian cult classic film BMX Bandits and founded Victoria’s first commercial radio station.
The establishment of the highly successful Radio 3UZ came about largely by accident, when radio broadcasting parts were delivered in error to the Nilsen offices in 1920. Enthusiastic staff began experimenting with the equipment, inspiring company manager Oliver John Nilsen to acquire Victoria’s first commercial broadcasting licence.
The company was planning to roll out Pay TV to the masses in the 1970s when the market fell flat. Instead, they ventured into film production, investing more than $1-million into the production of BMX Bandits, which famously launched the career of Nicole Kidman.
Today Nilsen is the only Australia-wide company of its type, specialising in contracting, communications and data, electrical and high-energy services, and switchboards.
Their work is diverse and far reaching, with major projects across the nation in defence, education, government, health, commercial and industrial sectors.
The Northern Territory is home to many of those projects including the Darwin Convention Centre and waterfront development, partnerships with Power and Water and rural work in Alice Springs and beyond.
Nilsen has now had a presence in the Territory for the past 25 years, bringing much-needed infrastructure and communications to the Top End.
“We have delivered some of the largest electrical and communications projects across the NT, creating hundreds of jobs in the process,” says General Manager Mark Eaves.
Providing training and ongoing upskilling for local people is also central to the work of Nilsen’s Darwin branch.
The company provides apprenticeships and investment in training and workforce development, as well as a dedicated indigenous employment program.
Mark says this level of care and commitment to staff has been key to the national growth and success of Nilsen, which celebrates 100 years in 2016.
Founded by Oliver John Nilsen in 1916, the company has remained in the family for four generations and is now chaired by great grandson Oliver Mark Nilsen.