Isis Mill cel­e­brates 120 years

Un­cer­tain be­gin­nings to boom­ing suc­cess

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By MELINDA BRAD­FORD

WHEN the Isis Cen­tral Su­gar Mill first reg­is­tered as a com­pany on July 16, 1894 , there were many hur­dles to over­come be­fore a fac­tory could be built.

Doubt over whether there was enough su­gar cane in the district to war­rant an­other mill in the district shrouded the com­pany.

Grow­ers had to prove they had enough land to war­rant their very own mill, and the 25,000 pounds price tag re­quired to build the fac­tory didn’t help.

Progress from for­ma­tion of the com­pany to ac­tu­ally crush­ing cane was de­layed by three long years.

And it took 25 years of self-sac­ri­fice be­fore the farm­ers owned the mill and had their ti­tle deeds re­turned.

Now, 120 years on from its hum­ble be­gin­nings, the com­pany is cel­e­brat­ing what can fairly be de­scribed as their suc­cess story.

Chair­man Peter Russo said it was a “big hon­our” to be cel­e­brat­ing 120 years of oper­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly be­ing a farmer-owned com­pany.

“For­eign coun­tries are buy­ing su­gar mills,” Mr Russo said.

“We’ve seen a vast myr­iad of change in the in­dus­try, so to speak, but yet we’ve still stayed a farmer-owned com­pany in all that time.”

The com­pany has sur­vived droughts, floods and dereg­u­la­tion.

“Dereg­u­la­tion brings in its own prob­lems, so we were out com­pet­ing with an­other mill for su­gar cane to keep the liveli­hood of the district go­ing,” Mr Russo said.

And keep the district alive, they have.

“Over the 120 years we’ve em­ployed a lot of people and we’ve been the cor­ner­stone of the district,” he said.

“Our mill pays back its prof­its to our share­hold­ers which are our grow­ers, and we would have paid count­less mil­lions of dol­lars into the district.”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Gor­ringe echoed Mr Russo’s sen­ti­ments.

“We are a hun­dred mil­lion dol­lar busi­ness... It’s not just a lit­tle bush com­pany, but it’s still owned by the 220-odd grow­ers that sup­ply the mill – it’s a suc­cess story,” he said.

He added that the com­pany was in the top five long­est sur­viv­ing com­pa­nies, which he partly at­trib­uted to the com­pany’s will­ing­ness to move with the times from the board level down.

Mr Russo agreed, adding that the com­pany has had to adopt a multi­na­tional ap­proach in ev­ery facet.

“We have to look out­side the square. It’s not just Aus­tralian su­gar milling any­more – it’s world su­gar milling,” he said.

The com­pany is also par­tic­u­larly proud of its num­ber one qual­ity com­pli­ance rat­ing in the state.

For the past two sea­sons, the mill has been given a num­ber one rat­ing for qual­ity com­pli­ance to QSL ex­port spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Mr Russo at­tributes the com­pany’s suc­cess to its long-stand­ing staff, who he says know the mill “like the back of their hand”.

The mill is look­ing for­ward to the next hun­dred years and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing long-term strate­gies to move into the fu­ture.

“There’s a lot of in­ter­est in the Aus­tralian su­gar in­dus­try and in­vest­ment in the in­dus­try and I’m con­fi­dent that the best days are ahead of this com­pany,” Mr Gor­ringe said.

“We’re think­ing about the shape of the busi­ness for the next hun­dred years and work­ing on at some more longer-term strate­gies.”


SU­GAR IN­DUS­TRY: Chair­man of the board Peter Russo at the Isis Mill.

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