Gladstone’s million-dollar man
A GLADSTONE man has made more than $30 million from Australia’s gas boom.
Ken Corfield, managing director of Corfield’s Electrical, has spent the past four years scouting for multi-million dollar tenders to keep his business afloat.
And it’s worked - securing two lucrative deals to build huge workers’ camps for liquefied natural gas workforces.
Now he’s sharing his experiences with others in a bid to help struggling small businesses in Gladstone.
Mr Corfield, a Gladstone local, has travelled far with some of his workers in a bid to find work.
At his peak he employed 80 people, but that has dropped to 40.
As Gladstone prepared for its gas boom with the construction of three $70 billion LNG sites, Mr Corfield was getting ready to design and build a 1600-man workers’ camp.
And love them or hate them, international gas giants moving in to Gladstone poured millions into the region, and Mr Corfield’s business.
Mr Corfield won a tender to design and build GLNG’s workers’ camp, worth $12 million.
But as he expected, the multi-million dollar sugar hit was short-lived, and Gladstone’s downturn was fast approaching.
“When it started to slow down in Gladstone, we were growing in Western Australia, we really found that perfect balance,” he said.
“If I didn’t make that decision to go over there, I would’ve had a very difficult time.”
The GLNG experience gave the a business a leg-up for a $22 million contract at Wheatstone LNG in Onslow, WA, to build a 7000-man camp. Now Mr Corfield expects his company’s next big job will be maintenance.
“There’s only so long before those three gas plants start to need that maintenance ... those nuts and bolts are going to need replacing or upkeep soon.”
“The maintenance in the gas industry is going to be bigger than construction itself.
“Maintenance goes on for 30 years ... that’s what we’re chasing hard for now.”
Mr Corfield is sharing his knowledge and experience with Gladstone Engineering Alliance’s 170 members, as the organisation’s new president.
“I’ve taken this on because of my passion for business,” he said. “The doom and gloom days are for those who lock themselves away... Work is there but it’s hard work and you need to upskill to get it.”
He’s also one of seven people on the committee for the $30 million Bowen Basin Jobs Package. And he says he’ll be a champion for Gladstone.
“There’s lots of people with great ideas, but they just need money,” Mr Corfield said.
“I don’t want this to be just another funding program ... It’s my ambition to turn this into a powerhouse, to make it known that we can get results.”
EXPERIENCEl Owner of Corfield’s Electrical, Ken Corfield with LNP member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd. PHOTO: CAMPBELL GELLIE