Strong work ethic and a pas­sion for ply lauded

Australasian Timber - - PROFILE -

There is no doubt Gary Holmes was in­flu­en­tial in steer­ing Aus­tral Ply­woods on a course for suc­cess. When Gary joined Aus­tral in 1985 it was a ‘break even’ busi­ness that would soon be sold back into pri­vate ownership, un­der the man­age­ment of Mal Matthews and Fred­die Clark. The year was 1986, and at the time fel­low in­dus­try com­peti­tors were al­ready pre­dict­ing Aus­tral’s demise within 2-3 years.

How wrong they were.

Gary sug­gested a change of di­rec­tion, drop­ping tra­di­tional prod­uct lines such as form­ply and brac­ing ply, in­stead steer­ing pro­duc­tion to­wards higher qual­ity prod­uct lines such as Ma­rine ply and ‘A’ faced pan­els. This di­rec­tion was no doubt piv­otal to Aus­tral’s suc­cess as the Aus­tralian ply­wood mar­ket be­came in­creas­ingly dom­i­nated by im­ports. Aus­tral couldn’t com­pete in a high vol­ume, low mar­gin mar­ket.

Un­der Gary’s guid­ance, Aus­tral re­mains the last ply­wood pro­ducer in Queens­land.

Gary has earned the re­spect of those in the ply­wood in­dus­try. A sur­vey con­ducted by the PAA (now the EWPAA) in the late 1990’s that mea­sured the qual­ity of busi­ness re­la­tions be­tween ply­wood man­u­fac­tur­ers and their dis­trib­u­tors found that gen­er­ally re­la­tions were poor across the in­dus­try. There was, how­ever, one shin­ing light, Gary Holmes. The PAA CEO of the time Kevin Lyn­g­coln said that Gary Holmes was the only one who came out ‘smelling like roses’.

A true com­pany man, Gary would fly the red eye on Perth trips to save money yet still turn up to work early in the morn­ing with only a few hours’ sleep. Such is Gary’s com­mit­ment and work ethic, he al­most never has a day off work and proudly drives around Bris­bane with his per­son­alised plates – PLY000.

This Au­gust we cel­e­brated Gary’s ply­wood in­dus­try ca­reer span­ning 42 years and wish Gary and his wife June all the very best in their re­tire­ment.

-- Scott Matthews

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