Mr. Alfred Gerard of Clipsal/Gerard & Goodman.
Mr. Alfred Gerard. (Photo courtesy Schneider Electric Australia)

Alfred Gerard married Elise Goodman in Adelaide in 1902 and in 1907, with a loan of £100 from his father-in-law, started a merchandising and contracting business at 204 Rundle Street Adelaide. He called the business Gerard & Goodman.

Gerard & Goodman Building Adelaide.
Left: Gerard & Goodman Building, Synagogue Place, Adelaide, c1928.
Right: Gerard & Goodman Building, Rundle Street frontage c1969. (Both images courtesy State Library of South Australia)

Prior to 1920, all available electrical conduits used in Australia were imported from overseas. The various fittings came in different diameters making it difficult for Australian electricians to join each section. Gerard seized the opportunity and created a fitting that was easier to use and offered it at a lower price than the expensive imports.

Clipsal "Clips All" product c1920.
Top: The “Clips-All” product designed by Alfred Gerard.
Bottom: Employees manufacturing the “Clips-All” product designed by Mr. Gerard.

Gerard & Goodman began production of the ‘clips all’ product in 1920 in Rundle Street, Adelaide with just six employees. The demand for the product outstripped supply. Needing to manufacture more of the ‘clips all’ product and others, Gerard built a multi-building facility at Park Terrace Bowden.

Gerard Electric Mfrs Ltd, Park Terrace, Bowden.
Gerard Electric Mfrs Ltd, Park Terrace, Bowden. (Photo courtesy Schneider Electric Australia)

The “Clipsal” name was created from the product’s unique ability to “clips all sizes”. This was abbreviated to Clipsal – and the iconic South Australian brand was born. The company went on to deliver several other manufacturing breakthroughs, including the first all-Australian switch in 1930 and pioneered the use of thermoplastics in the 1950s. During the Second World War, Clipsal switched to full capacity for the Australian Defence Department, manufacturing aircraft switches, bomb release buttons and morse code keys.

Images of the Clipsal Museum inside Schnieder Electric Adelaide

Memorabilia of Clipsal and Gerard’s “Clips All” product can be seen inside Schnieder Electrics’ Adelaide headquarters. The museum boasts old catalogues of Clipsal’s products as well as original guides for electricians/installers.

The Gerard and Goodman building was earmarked for heritage protection, however in 2013 Planning Minister John Rau removed it from the list. Along with The Rhino Room, The Howling Owl, Urban Cow Studio, Eckersley’s Art & Craft and the Wilson Frome St Car Park, it is to be demolished over the coming months. In its place, a 34-storey hotel and apartment complex and an adjacent 21-storey student accommodation building.

We’re unsure how long the Gerard & Goodman building has sat abandoned and unused, but before it’s ultimate demise, let us take you through the original building where Clipsal first began:

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