No. 3 Ross Roberts

The Daily Examiner - - CLARENCE VALLEY'S POWER 30 -

IF YOU are one of the many young peo­ple who got a start in their work­ing lives in the work­shop at Har­wood Marine, you might be tempted to rate its manag­ing di­rec­tor Ross Roberts even higher than his third spot in this year’s Power 30 list.

Mr Roberts is proud of his com­pany’s record as a suc­cess­ful marine con­struc­tion and re­pair busi­ness em­ploy­ing hun­dreds of lo­cal peo­ple over the years.

He is par­tic­u­larly proud of the statis­tic that 20 per cent of the ap­pren­tices his busi­ness trains to trade level stay with the busi­ness.

He has also been partly re­spon­si­ble for the rapid con­struc­tion of the nearby Har­wood Bridge, spot­ting a good busi­ness op­por­tu­nity to of­fer his slip­way fa­cil­ity to the bridge builders.

They were able to ship in and as­sem­ble the mas­sive cranes and float them to the site on barges. This ca­pa­bil­ity saved time, money and hun­dreds of heavy ve­hi­cle jour­neys on our roads.

The proof of the pud­ding of Har­wood Marine’s com­mit­ment to the re­gion came with the 2014 de­ci­sion to re­place the age­ing slip­way with a mod­ern fa­cil­ity ca­pa­ble of han­dling the larger ves­sels the com­pany has in mind for its fu­ture.

The de­ci­sion meant the slip­way was out of ac­tion be­tween Oc­to­ber 2014 and Fe­bru­ary 2017 while the com­pany’s work­force turned their at­ten­tion to con­struct­ing the new cen­tre­piece of the com­pany’s oper­a­tions.

Mr Roberts was proud to say the com­pany funded the con­struc­tion en­tirely from its own cof­fers, pro­vid­ing the Clarence Val­ley with a state-of-the-art ship­build­ing and re­pair fa­cil­ity.

In­deed it was this very slip­way that en­abled the com­pany to make its con­tri­bu­tion to the bridge con­struc­tion.

But he said the com­pany re­ally made its com­mit­ment to the Clarence Val­ley more than a decade ear­lier when the com­pany no­ticed a dis­turb­ing trend in the ship­build­ing in­dus­try.

He said buy­ers were tak­ing their or­ders for ves­sels off­shore be­cause Aus­tralian labour prices could not com­pete with the prices over­seas.

Shrewdly, the Har­wood Marine man­age­ment opened a ship­yard in the Philip­pines build­ing Aus­tralian-war­ranty ships at the prices the cus­tomers wanted.

“That was our point of dif­fer­ence – our ships were bet­ter qual­ity and, with the war­ranty, re­pairs could be done by an Aus­tralian com­pany,” Mr Roberts said.

Build­ing Har­wood Marine on the back of new busi­ness com­ing from around the world, the com­pany was able to keep its lower Clarence oper­a­tion prof­itable as well.

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