Phillip Cooymans

Phil was born and raised in Adelaide South Australia to Dutch parents Lucy and Adrienne Cooymans, attending Christian Brothers College. He left in 1977 to begin an apprenticeship as a fibrous plasterer with Wool Bay Lime, a well-known SA Hardware firm the equivalent to Bunnings today. He topped the class in plastics and molding with an understanding of the work that was second nature and as the industry was converting from shellac molds to fiberglass resin, he was in the right place at the right time. Advice from his mentors in the industry at the time was that fibrous was a dead end industry. “How wrong were they?” says Phil. “I registered Cooymans Ceiling Contractors in 1992 and have been fortunate to have a steady workload ever since. I’ve spent 37 years restoring and installing cornice, trained 10 apprentices and just signed up my 11th, and have taught 15-20 sub-contractors the art of fibrous plastering to share my knowledge”.

Part of the fibrous course at TAFE was the install of pressed metal panels. Phil did many restorations and installations for TW Inghams, the manufacturers of original pressed metal panels in Adelaide at the time and built up a wealth of knowledge working with the product. TW Inghams were eventually bought out by CSR and the product quality gradually declined. Phil saw a need in the industry for an authentic quality product and sourced a supplier, opening a shop on Prospect Road. The business grew rapidly and Phil moved to Payneham Road in 2009, with the opportunity to buy the dies and machinery from TW Inghams soon after. Since then Adelaide Pressed Metal has grown enormously with the restoration of original dies and reproduction from original panels, the design range has grown to over 100 different patterns and steadily rising.

Running Cooymans Ceilings and Adelaide Pressed Metal as well as chief coordinator of apprentice challenges, Phil has his full with on-site supervising, quoting, working in the showroom and occasionally still on the tools to pass on his invaluable knowledge.

Phil’s fleet of restored Bedford Trucks in Cooymans Ceiling red and two Adelaide Pressed Metal black trucks has become a familiar site around Adelaide, and are a great promotional vehicle. Combining originality with modern improvements and technology is a theme throughout both businesses, from the restored Bedfords to retaining the original skills involved in fibrous and pressed metal manufacture, install and restoration.

“We have been lucky enough to have been involved in some great projects over the years” says Phil “one of the biggest in fibrous restoration was the Bundaleer Homestead in Jamestown SA. Recently one of the best jobs I was involved in with fibrous and pressed metal installation was Shahins private residence (On the Run chain). The sheer size, money and duration of the project created many challenges. Currently I have just finished a pressed metal restoration project at Dimmeys in Richmond, Victoria.

Advances in technology with plaster have seen shellac molds change to resin molds and the process is now cheaper and quicker to produce and the product is lighter and easier to work with. The same applies with pressed metal as the cast iron dies are replaced with epoxy resin dies and laser technology replicates the patterns quickly and to the millimeter.

Phil has been a member of AWCI since he became an apprentice in 1977. In 1995 he became an executive member with SA, becoming President of the Association in 2005 -2011. Phil has been involved with the apprentice challenges since 2000, the year they made replicas of the Sydney Harbor Bridge from plasterboard and has been Chief Coordinator of the apprentice challenges since 2009 with support from the different states each year. “The apprentice challenges are of great benefit to the industry” says Phil. “It’s great to have contractors give their time to teach and show new products and techniques. The teamwork is good and there is a friendly rivalry between states with each state showing and sharing the different variations in techniques. The quality of workmanship is good and the apprentices embrace new products and go home happy with what they’ve learnt and achieved.”

“AWCI has hosted many great events and meeting the late Ray Barrymore, dinner at Movie World on the Gold Coast and a jet boat ride in Queenstown New Zealand are some of my most memorable moments” says Phil. “AWCI conferences have helped me enormously with interstate networking with the growth of pressed metal and help from manufacturers in the fibrous industry perfecting fixing systems, which is not possible unless you meet the right people"

Phil’s wife Leanne often helps out in the showroom on Saturday mornings as it can be very busy and two of his three daughters are currently studying while his eldest is teaching in the country. Phil relaxes with the occasional glass of red with friends and really enjoys his Saturday morning bike rides with a group of mates looking forward to competing in the Bupa Challenge in the Adelaide Tour Down Under every year.