Meet the civil engineer helping build one of the world’s most challenging tunnelling projects in Himalayas

Bineshian Hoss’ career as a civil engineer has taken him to the four corners of the globe. One city, however, captured his heart. Adelaide became Bineshian’s adopted home nearly a decade ago… and the place he returns to in between his overseas engineer postings.

After more than 20 years working in design and construction roles, his latest position would challenge even the most experienced engineer – constructing a 300km length of tunnels in India’s Himalayan range.

Rumoured to be the highest railway bridge in the world, the J&K Railway Project is also the largest project ever recorded in India, connecting the Jammu and Kashmir regions across the mysterious, untouched majesty of the Himalayas.

The early stages of the project, which includes 103 tunnels and 62 bridges, have an estimated 15-year completion date – four of which, Bineshian has been central part of as head of consultancy and engineering with Swiss company, Amberg Engineering.

“Most areas don’t even have road access, so the evolution of the project is slow. It has to be. India is new to tunneling, both in knowledge and infrastructure. It’s maturing as the years go on, thankfully,” Bineshian says.

Tunneling is now considered as much science as it is art, and within the “young fold Himalayan Mountains”, there’s a high degree of rock strata through which the tunnel is being bored.

“Road accessibility, geology of the Himalayas, potential landslides, and insurgency constantly plague our momentum,” Bineshian says.

He is part of a revolving team of dozens of engineers working on the J&K Railway Project. As it stands, the completion date is loosely set for 2024 and is “certainly not a project for the faint of heart”.

Bineshian doesn’t fall into this category, always embracing the next journey his career takes him.

Originally Iranian-Australian, Bineshian admitted at The University of Western Australia to complete a Masters and Doctorate in Civil-Geotechnical Engineering.

An invitation to keynote at an industry lecture in Hahndorf introduced him to life in Adelaide. This spurred an immersive research period where he explored Adelaide’s key industries, economy and easy travel to countries he’d frequented.

“I liked how central it was. And given I have a young son, its safety and friendliness was important, too,” he explains. “It needed to fulfil all those lifestyle perks, while still being easy for me to travel in and out of.”

Shortly after this, Adelaide became Bineshian’s new home.

“I believe it’s the best city in Australia. The weather is perfect, the people are friendly and respectful of their community. It’s like no other city I’ve been to before,” he says.

Civil engineer Bineshian Hoss, right, is now working on the USBRL project – one of the most challenging railway projects in the Himalayas.

Bineshian has lived in Aberfoyle Park. Nowadays, he returns every quarter, given the demanding nature of the J&K Railway Project.

“I have to be on the ground in India a lot, especially over the past four years. But, Adelaide is still my base,” he says.

Bineshian’s long-term plans are to return to Adelaide full-time.

“There’s a lot of movement in the city and I believe the transportation sector will be next, particularly with infrastructure,” he says. “Every time I return home, there’s a new building in development. I’d love to be one of the local engineers they turn to when we need bridges, highways and tunnels.”

Bineshian is one of the growing number of expats who keep Adelaide within reach. The lifestyle is the shared consensus regarding the gravitational pull of Adelaide.

He believes developments in South Australia’s transport industry could position Adelaide as “the world’s best city” – an optimistic title, he acknowledges, but one he truly believes.

And we know who will put up his hand to pioneer a project with such vision and to fulfil his dream, of course… to live and work in Adelaide.

The Hello From SA network is sharing the stories of SA expats from around the world. Do you know a South Aussie living, working or learning abroad? Get in touch via the Hello From SA Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Hello from SA is the global community for South Australians living, working and learning interstate and abroad.

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Bowhill Engineering constructing a strong future for Murray Mallee

A small family business on the banks of the Murray River in the small town of Bowhill has been a major source of employment for the area for decades.

In the past 40 years, Bowhill Engineering, located 65km from Murray Bridge, has grown from a small local steel fabrication and construction business to a leading specialist in heavy and complex structural steel fabrication.

It’s worked on some of the biggest infrastructure projects in South Australia, including the construction of steel bridge girders for the Darlington Upgrade, a stage within Adelaide’s major North-South Corridor road project.

In 2014 and 2016 Bowhill was also contracted by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure to construct a series of steel hull ferries for the River Murray vehicular crossings.

Bowhill constructed steel bridge girders for the Darlington Upgrade.

Managing director Jeremy Hawkes says together these two projects were a turning point for the business, significantly boosting revenue and workforce numbers.

“Within 12 months we doubled our revenue … admittedly, we were coming off a lower base because the industry was so depressed,” he says.

“It was still a massive jump for us to make in a relatively short period of time and it put a lot of pressure on our existing staff.

“We had to try and find new staff, get them onboard, skill them up and also make sure they fit in with our unique culture. Now we have a highly skilled and really engaged workforce of 30-plus that I’m really proud of.”

After winning the contract in 2017 for the Darlington Upgrade, Bowhill Engineering constructed the steelwork for two 3000-tonne bridges, built entirely off their permanent site, in what was an Australian first for civil engineering.

Other past projects include the Wayville Pedestrian Bridge in Adelaide’s inner southern suburbs, a complex, three-dimensional bridge that was met with a tricky design requirements and a tight deadline.

Bowhill Engineering managing director Jeremy Hawkes.

Bowhill’s clients include major players, McConnell Dowell, Lendlease, LEED, and Laing O’Rourke, while the business prides itself on also supporting small local businesses through its supply chain.

“There is a local company at Mannum, TR Male Transport, who we have been using as our supplier loyally for about 40 years,” Jeremy says.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve been able to support them for a really long period of time, consistently all the way through. We have drafting people at Monarto who operate with us almost exclusively and that relationship has existed for about 25 years and spans two generations.

“We’re SA-based so 99% of what we purchase is definitely from SA and we’re very proud of that. We also have a very strong focus towards Australian steel and making sure we’re contributing to a sustainable steel industry.”

Bowhill Engineering is renowned for providing significant employment for the town, including young apprentices. It takes on at least one apprentice a year, and at the moment has six metal fabrication apprentices and one business administration trainee.

The Oaklands Crossing is also one of Bowhill Engineering’s big projects.

“We had some research undertaken recently which found that Bowhill Engineering employs the same percentage of people in manufacturing within the Mid Murray Council area as Holden did in Adelaide’s northern suburbs at the time of the closure announcement,” Jeremy says.

“That’s a pretty impressive stat when you think about it because Bowhill is such a tiny place. It doesn’t make logical sense (for the business to be located at Bowhill) because there are no support industries around us and we’re somewhat isolated. But we’ve made it work by focusing on our strengths.”

With Bowhill going from strength to strength in recent years, an expansion is on the horizon. The business is planning to underground powerlines that run through the property to give it the space and capacity for a physical expansion that could spur 20 new jobs.

The undergrounding project is a large and expensive feat costed at about $1 million and will be made possible with a $350,000 grant from the State Government’s Regional Growth Fund, in addition to Federal Government support through the Building Better Regions Fund for a similar amount.

Bowhill Engineering’s future expansion will mark a new chapter for the business which dates back to the 1970s, with Jeremy’s parents Brendon and Averil.

The Bowhill Engineering team.

Brendon was a farmer with a knack for repairing and modifying farm machinery and equipment and so the mechanic workshop Bowhill Motors was born. Brendon turned the focus away from mechanics and towards local steel fabrication and construction in the 1990s, building on strong foundations of community, reputation and a positive attitude.

These values were instilled in his two sons, Jeremy and Simon, who both went on to play instrumental parts in the business’s success as they grew older.

But tragically in 2002, Simon was killed in a car accident at the age of 30. He left behind a legacy of bold thinking, strong work ethic and a dogged determination which has helped shape the business into what it now has become.

Family is still at the core of Bowhill, with Brendon and Averil still involved in the business alongside Jeremy and his wife Jodie, who have four children.

“I am genuinely excited for the future,” Jeremy says.

“The government support both directly through funding assistance and indirectly through a buoyant economy and infrastructure building creates an excellent opportunity for us to continue to foster growth in our people.”

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Hansen Yuncken continues Adelaide Casino ties through $330m expansion

National commercial building company Hansen Yuncken will revisit its history with SKYCITY Entertainment Group when it delivers a $330m expansion of the Adelaide Casino over the next two years.

The major builder worked on the original casino development back in 1985, a time when the Adelaide Riverbank was in stark contrast to the contemporary backdrop it provides today.

The significant expansion will deliver a world-class entertainment precinct and create 1000 construction jobs and a further 800 permanent positions upon its completion.

Set to feature a 123-room luxury hotel, new bars, cafés, restaurants, a 750-seat function space, VIP gaming facilities and a 1500-space car park, the development is the largest private sector investment in Adelaide’s history.

An artist’s impression of the new Adelaide Casino.

For Hansen Yuncken, the casino expansion will join a portfolio of other large infrastructure projects which have helped shape the city over the past 80 years.

State manager Mark Rosenboom says the company is proud to have an input into the development which is expected to draw high end tourists and attract more people to the riverbank.

“This project is going to benefit the city of Adelaide so much in terms of attracting tourists and bringing people into Adelaide specifically to be a part of this fantastic entertainment venue,” he says.

“It’s going to be a great boost for the state as a whole.”

Hansen Yuncken has begun construction on site, with works scheduled for completion in 2020.

The commercial building company is working predominantly with local contractors and suppliers on the 12-level building, managing its construction, logistics, quality and project safety.

Mark says the expansion will continue Hansen Yuncken’s 33-year relationship with the casino.

“We first worked on the original casino development back in 1985 and we’ve been involved in a number of upgrades since then too,” Mark says.

“Continuing the long history that we have with the Adelaide Casino is really important because our business is built on repeat clients and working on the same facilities and precincts over many years.”

While the Adelaide Casino expansion is the biggest project on Hansen Yuncken’s books at the moment, it’s certainly not the biggest in its history.

It was involved in one of the biggest, most expensive, and most significant builds in recent years – the construction of the $2.3 billion new Royal Adelaide Hospital, which opened its doors in 2017.

Hansen Yuncken state manager Mark Rosenboom.

Hansen Yuncken was founded in Melbourne in 1918, opening offices around the country thereafter, including one in Adelaide in 1939.

Its first Adelaide project was the former Bank of NSW office building on the corner of North Terrace and King William streets and now housing 2KW Bar and Restaurant and Jamie’s Italian Restaurant.

Since then Hansen Yuncken has been responsible for the old David Jones building in Rundle Mall, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Bicentennial Conservatory, the 50 Flinders Street office tower, and the UniSA Cancer Research Institute, among others.

Mark says the key to Hansen Yuncken’s longstanding success in SA is the loyalty of the company’s staff and its ability to maintain long term relationships in the local market.

Hansen Yuncken was behind the construction of UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute.

“In some cases our project partners have gone over generations not just years,” he says.

“Being in Adelaide since 1939 means people understand that you’re here for the long run.”

Mark, who has been with Hansen Yuncken for 24 years, says it’s an exciting time to be a part of SA’s infrastructure industry.

“It’s an exciting time not just because of the volume of work that’s happening but the mix of private, state and federal investment,” he says.

“It’s a good blend and that’s a good sign for the future.”

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Adelaide Airport set for $125m terminal expansion

Adelaide Airport will undergo a $165m expansion, creating 200 jobs at construction peak and significantly improving the international travelling experience.

The project – the airport’s largest infrastructure upgrade in more than a decade – will involve an overhaul to the main terminal, including an 80% increase in the size of the dining and retail precinct.

Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young says the expansion will provide a “seamless, connected experience from the time you drive into the airport until you board your aircraft, and vice versa”.

“Since we opened the existing terminal in 2005, our overall passenger numbers have increased by close to 50%,” he says.

“Our international passenger numbers alone have almost tripled over the same period.

“This extraordinary growth means we need to keep growing our existing facilities.

“While we still have sufficient capacity to meet future forecast growth in the number of flights, we’re reaching capacity within the terminal.”

An artist’s impression of the upgraded terminal, featuring a larger retail and food precinct and greater facilities for international travellers.

The upgrades are expected to significantly improve international arrival and departure areas including a second, longer baggage belt, more space for emigration and immigration processing, expanded security screening and a larger duty-free precinct.

The retail precinct will also undergo a complete refurbishment, increasing by 80% in size across domestic and international areas.

Other improvements include a new premium international lounge, Adelaide’s first international arrival and departure VIP facilities, and a relocation of the Virgin Australia lounge.

Work will begin immediately and be completed by 2021.

ASX-listed construction company Watpac – which has an office in Adelaide – is the project builder and will start on site in a fortnight.

Mark says 70% of materials used in the project and 100% of the labour force will be South Australian.

He says 200 jobs will be created during construction peak, with a further 600 retail positions created due to the retail and dining expansion.

The retail and dining area will increase by 80%.

Mark says the expansion could help attract more international airlines to Adelaide.

“We would like to see a direct service to the west coast of the US, but that is some time off as there is often a 5 to 7-year period of marketing,” he says.

Mark says the airport is also focusing on increasing its services into mainland China.

He says airports form an important basis for people’s travels.

“People really feel that an airport is the start of their journey,” Mark says.

“They use that visitor opportunity to experience a little bit of SA.”

The upgrade is set to be complete by 2021.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway, says the expansion is a vote of confidence in the SA economy and will help grow the state’s tourism industry.

“This redevelopment will enhance SA’s ability to attract more international airlines and accommodate an increase in the frequency of air services in the future – all of which will help grow our economy and support more jobs,” he says.

“It’s certainly very encouraging to see private sector investment of this scale in SA and I would like to congratulate Adelaide Airport on this significant investment.”

Adelaide Airport processes more than eight million passengers a year.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Sunday trading, upgrades on the cards for Adelaide Central Market

The Adelaide Central Market has $22m worth of infrastructure upgrades in the pipeline over the next decade, as the 149-year-old food hub aims to retain its historic charm while preparing for the modern age.

The market, which is one of the largest undercover markets in the southern hemisphere, is gearing up for an overhaul which includes new air-conditioning, a renewal of the Gouger Street frontage, and stage two of a new waste and recycling centre.

The upgrades are part of the Adelaide Central Market Authority (ACMA’s) four-year Strategic Plan, which sets out a vision to make the city institution the best food and produce market in the world.

As infrastructure upgrades unfold at the Central Market, Sunday trading is also being investigated. Photo by Nikki Firth, Take in Outside.

The Strategic Plan was formed through a number of initiatives raised by market traders during a six-month consultation process – the most extensive ever undertaken by current management.

The plan also suggests the potential for adjusted trading hours to meet customer expectations and this week the market’s traders are being surveyed to determine what opening hours would best suit their needs.

ACMA general manager Aaron Brumby told Brand SA News that an historic move to introduce Sunday trading is a possibility, as is longer trading on Saturdays.

He says adjusted trading hours could come into effect by the second half of 2018.

“The trading hours have been this way for nearly two decades and customer preferences are changing,” Aaron says.

“We are seeing a lot more people shop later into the evening and shopping on Sundays, so we need to review those hours with our traders … to see if there is something better we can do.

“We have nine million visitors a year and we’re still the number one tourist destination in SA, and we want that to continue and only improve.”

“The aim is for us, is to be the best produce market in the world.”

The Federal Hall lettering on the market’s Grote Street façade has been restored.

Aaron says the infrastructure upgrades would ensure that “behind the scenes facilities” such as toilets, lighting, communications systems, and heritage façades would “be in the best condition they can be and as contemporary as possible”.

However, retaining heritage and the market’s “grittiness” is also crucial, he says.

“The $22m we’re spending is more about customer comfort and changing things the customer can’t see,” Aaron says.

“The 2019/20 budget includes $2.5m to replace the air-conditioning and that will make a huge difference in summer … on a 40C day the market is normally 27C inside, but we’ll have it down to 20–21C.

“It will increase the shelf life of the produce.”

Recent infrastructure upgrades have included restoration of the façade at the Grote Street entrance, set to be completed in a fortnight.

“We have put the original lettering of Federal Hall back on the building,” Aaron says.

“The letters are one metre tall and set the building off beautifully.”

The Federal Hall as it was in 1912.

The ACMA is also hoping to activate the Grote and Gouger Street footpaths to create more activity and drive interest.

It also wants to feature more regional stallholders to showcase produce from areas including the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Clare Valley and Limestone Coast.

The market is currently home to the Kangaroo Island stall which allows consumers to sample and buy island produce, wine, spirits and other goods.

Stallholders will also be encouraged to “create theatre and demonstrate unique skills” to customers to liven the experience and build greater consumer-trader relationships.

“We can create a really good experience with tastings and have traders with a wealth of knowledge out the front of their shops spruiking their products and sharing with the consumer about what makes them so special,” Aaron says.

Fanis Katsarelias from Adelaide Central Market stall Wild Loaf.

He says the need to improve the market’s offerings and facilities is down to increased competition from 70 new supermarkets that have been built or refurbished across Adelaide in the past 10 years.

“We sell about one million kilograms of fruit and veg every month, that’s what makes us the pantry for the CBD,” Aaron says.

“For us to continue to sell those sorts of volumes and be successful, everything needs to be as good as it can be.”

The Adelaide Central Market is currently full at 76 traders and a waiting list of 16 businesses.

More than 500 people are employed throughout the market, with the average trader tenure lasting 42 years.

Lolly shop Blackeby’s Sweets is the longest running business at 102 years, while Charlesworth Nuts is the longest running business by the same family at 84 years, followed by Lucia’s at 60 years.

“That’s what makes the market special, that’s why we have multi-generational families in the market,” Aaron says.

“We’re the oldest market in Australia in its original location, we’ve been in this spot since 1869.”

Aaron will leave his position at the ACMA in July, before taking on a new role at SA disability organisation Bedford Group.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Concrete company sets the slab for $10m state-of-the-art plant

Adelaide’s leading independent pre-mixed concrete supplier is months away from opening a state-of-the-art wet batch plant that will help cement the company as a “supplier of choice” in the South Australian market.

The 38-year-old local business, Hallett Concrete, is expecting to open its $10m plant in Mile End in Adelaide’s inner west by September/October, creating about 15 new jobs.

The company considers the wet batch plant to be an SA-first as it will have a production capacity of 180m3 per hour, and will reduce its waste and impact on the environment.

Wet batch cement plants allow for the cement to be mixed at a single, central location before being hauled to the job site in a mixer truck.

A dry batch plant, on the other hand, involves all the materials and water being discharged into a truck, which then mixes the cement during transportation to the job site.

Wet batch plants are seen to create a more consistent mixture within a short space of time and are understood to have a lesser impact on the environment due to dust being contained at the plant.

Hallett Concrete’s cement mixers can be spotted on major road infrastructure upgrades in Adelaide.

Hallett Concrete general manager Nigel Waterhouse says the Mile End facility will become the company’s flagship plant.

He says Hallett’s growth has been driven by the state’s burgeoning infrastructure industry, with major road projects such as Adelaide’s North-South Corridor upgrade increasing demand.

“We can see that SA is a growing economy in this industry and we want to be a part of it,” Nigel says.

“That’s why we’re employing more people, putting on (five) more trucks, and building a new concrete plant with new technology and … less impact to the environment.”

Nigel says the new plant will service the CBD region, as well as the inner western and southern suburbs.

He says recent road infrastructure projects, such as the Darlington Upgrade Project (3.3km of South Road at Darlington), are better worked on at night to reduce disruption to traffic.

“We can see that with those roads we need to do a lot of night works, so we need to have a place with the capability of doing 24-hour works,” he says.

“So moving further down the track, we’re looking at doing more night works which have less impact on transport and commuters during the day.”

Hallett Concrete’s mobile plant at Darlington.

The Darlington Upgrade Project – part of the North South Corridor upgrade – is one of the largest concrete delivery projects in the state.

Other projects that Hallett has poured its cement into include the recently opened The Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend, the Torrens to Torrens roadway and the Nyrstar metals processing plant at Port Pirie.

Other clients include ALDI supermarket distribution centres, and residential building companies such as fellow SA business Fairmont Homes.

Part of the MSP Group of companies, Hallett Concrete employs 120 people across its sites at Dry Creek, Elizabeth, McLaren Vale, Port Pirie and Strathalbyn, as well as across its mobile plant operations.

Concept plans for the mile End wet batch plant.

“We’re constantly growing,” Nigel says.

He says Hallett Concrete chooses to operate in SA because of the amount of work on offer.

“Our company was born and bred in SA and we choose to operate here to be part of the state’s exception growth prospects,” Nigel says.

“We want to continue to be the leading concrete supplier of choice in the SA market.

“We have great faith in the customers and the people of SA.”

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

The company behind the high-tech smart systems on our roads

A decade ago electrician-by-trade Damian Hewitt was working as a maintenance manager in Adelaide’s Holden factory when he swapped the automotive industry for a career in high-tech industrial automation and control.

He joined the Tonsley-based SAGE Automation, a company that has its foot firmly in South Australia’s transport infrastructure sector and is preparing the state’s motorways for the future.

“When I moved across to SAGE I loved it and have never looked back,” says Damian, the privately-owned entity’s national manager of transport.

SAGE Automation believes its technology and ‘intelligent transport systems’ hold the key to reducing road congestion.

In recent years it has deployed vehicle infrastructure communication systems across some of the state’s busiest highways.

SAGE Automation worked on the Heysen Tunnels in 2000.

Almost 20 years ago it designed the safety control system for the Heysen Tunnels, while it also provided the control system for the bridges on the Port River Expressway.

One of its biggest recent projects was delivering an intelligent transport system for the $160m O-Bahn tunnel.

This included the installation of hardware on all O-Bahn buses, giving drivers real-time alerts if they are travelling too fast or too close to the bus in front.

Roadside sensors at either end of the tunnel detect vehicles that are authorised to use the O-Bahn.

“We’ve also delivered the Torrens to Torrens project and we’re working on the Darlington Road upgrade now,” Damian says.

“Probably about 70% of SA’s managed roads, freeways and tunnels have SAGE Automation systems on them.

“Nationally, we’re doing the Monash Freeway in Melbourne and in Sydney we’re working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s electronic lane changeover system.

“The answer to reducing congestion isn’t necessarily widening motorways, it’s about using technology.”

SAGE Automation is currently working on smart transport systems for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

From real-time electronic travel time signs to a smartphone app alerting motorists about traffic delays, SAGE is at the forefront of some of the state’s most transformative technology developments in road infrastructure.

Damian says SA is a national leader when it comes to the standard of technology being deployed on road networks.

“For example, full CCTV coverage has been deployed down the entire Torrens to Torrens upgrade of South Road including thermal video incident detection,” he says.

“No other motorway has that coverage.

“The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) has also identified that the transport system is critical in emergency responses, so they have battery backups on the entire network.

The real-time travel signs tell motorists how far to particular destinations.

“If there is a state emergency, signage will direct people to where they need to go.”

SAGE Automation employs about 160 people in SA and more than 340 across the country.

It also has offices in India and is working on a global strategy to explore potential for further expansion.

But as far as manufacturing goes, Adelaide is home.

“We manufacture here in Adelaide and we’re seen as an industry leader,” Damian says.

SAGE Automation is also working on autonomous vehicle trials, something Damian says he envisages will become a part of everyday life within the next five years.

The company is working on three driverless vehicle trials, including a shuttle bus at Glenelg, driverless cargo pods at Tonsley and autonomous shuttles at Flinders University.

The smart shuttle stop, the OlliStop will make transport more accessible for aged care and disability groups.

“Our autonomous bus (at Glenelg), includes features tailored to the individual’s needs, particularly around disability and aged care groups,” Damian says.

“The vision impaired can use a voice activated messaging system that announces the arrival time of the bus.”

Damian says these advancements in transport infrastructure technology will boost demand for high-tech manufacturing jobs.

“The amount of change in the industry is going to cause significant disruption, but it’s going to excite high-end jobs,” he says.

“When you start and talk about electric vehicles and software upgrades, it’s going to create real high-end type work for our state.”

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.



Top Fast Mover Enviroclad on building its success

A Riverland business that manufactures environmentally sustainable products for the building and construction industry has taken out the top spot in the Fast Movers 2018 program.

Berri-based Enviroclad was awarded the fastest growing business ahead of 24 other finalists on Friday, May 25.

Co-founder Tony Vallelonga accepted the award along with nephew Ryan and says the company was born from a business idea sprouted with brother Frank in 1983.

The pair was supplying expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging to local fruit growers when they decided they would start their own factory and make their own material.

Fast Movers 2018 winners Tony Vallelonga, left, and Ryan Vallelonga.

They bought two EPS manufacturing machines and constructed a factory in Berri before their customer base began to expand outside the Riverland into other regions.

EPS is a lightweight cellular plastic material that is renowned for being termite resistant and flame retardant, making it ideal for use in the building and construction industry.

It’s used to make insulated panels, rendered fence systems, insulated roofing and wall systems, and is popular in the construction of cold rooms, freezers, and piggeries, as well as residential and commercial buildings.

Enviroclad is a part of the Valls Group and was established as a standalone business in 2014.

It has since gone on to experience a 298% increase in revenue in the past three financial years and employs 20 people across its Berri headquarters and another manufacturing facility in Orange, NSW.

Tony says the majority of its customer base is across the Riverland, Sunraysia and rural Victoria.

However, Enviroclad also exports a small amount to China.

“We do export a little bit to China, but a lot of it goes into Adelaide and rural Victoria, so we draw a recent radius around us,” he says.

“Our customer base is growing as well, which is excellent. The advantage of being here in the Riverland is that we’re close to regional Victoria and Adelaide.”

Tony addresses the room after Enviroclad was announced the top Fast Mover for 2018.

Tony’s nephew and managing director Ryan Vallelonga says his advice to other burgeoning enterprises is to hone their product before taking it to market.

“When the business first started, we didn’t want to get into the market without a quality product, we had to be confident we had the highest quality service and product,” he says.

Ryan says another key to success is learning to rely on other regions outside your hometown.

“My advice is that you have to consider transport and freight costs,” he says.

“With our business in Berri we can’t rely on the Riverland as our core, so we go into other areas such as Port Lincoln, Adelaide and Mildura.”

The family duo says the Riverland’s lifestyle offerings are one of the main reasons they choose to do business from the Murray and Malle region.

They say Enviroclad’s success is due to the dedication of their employees.

“We have a great group of staff and without great staff we’d really struggle to meet our needs and demands,” Tony says.

“We’re really thankful of our staff and our customer base.

“From day one you have to believe in your product and be prepared to put in a huge effort, you will have a rollercoaster of bad days and good days.”

Enviroclad took home $49,600 worth of prizes, including $10,000 in cash from Statewide Super, as well as training and services from some of SA’s top companies.

Fellow building business Elite Building and Renovations came in at second in Fast Movers 2018, while high-speed internet provider Uniti Wireless took third place.

Tony and Ryan join fellow Fast Movers winners, Uniti Wireless and Elite Building and Renovations, at a Q&A session hosted by Channel Seven’s Mike Smithson.

The annual Fast Movers program, presented by BDO SA and Brand South Australia, celebrates the state’s fastest growing and most innovative small to medium enterprises.

Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen commends all finalists for their significant growth which delivers economic benefit to the state.

“Each year Fast Movers helps to create passion, enthusiasm and exposure among our fastest growing companies and we are excited to the future of the program,” she says.

For the full list of the Top 25 Fast Movers for 2018, see The Advertiser’s SA Business Journal on Tuesday, May 29.

Header image: BDO SA managing partner Rudy Pieck, left, Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen, Enviroclad founder Tony Vallelonga and managing director Ryan Vallelonga, and Statewide Super business development manager Debbie Sterrey.

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Robway Safety back from the brink

Once-struggling Thebarton crane safety technology company Robway Safety is reaching new heights after returning to South Australian hands a little over a year ago.

New owner and managing director Andrew Powell bought the 41-year-old business back from a US multinational company in March 2017.

He salvaged 15 local jobs and says the business is back on track.

“It’s a phoenix, we’ve come out much better than expected,” says Andrew, who first owned Robway for nine years before it was sold to a Canadian company in 2012, and then the US.

“We don’t owe any money, we have a really good team of people and we have money in the bank, we have stock, we have customers, a wealth of ideas and projects in a world that’s ticking along quite nicely.

“My main goal was to make Robway sustainable, so making sure it’s going to be here in the future and making sure 15 people weren’t going to lose their jobs, as they were going to. We’ve achieved that.”

Robway Safety at Thebarton is back in SA hands.

Andrew entered the world of crane safety when he bought the business off its founder, Robert Way, in 2003.

Robway Safety develops and manufactures safe load indicators and line tension monitoring systems for cranes and heavy lifting equipment.

Established in 1977, the business has gone on to become a leader in its field, working with rated capacity indicators, sensors, and web-enabled data telemetry to improve crane safety.

The load monitoring system monitors the load of a crane to ensure the machine isn’t at risk of tipping over.

Robway Safety is driven mainly by the oil and gas, resources, and construction sectors, with 50% of its sales going to the international market.

Andrew says a major advancement in Robway’s operations includes the use of telematics to enable data to be collected from equipment in the field for analysis.

Many of Robway’s employees are specialised software engineers.

“We’ve had big advances in telematics, we can beam up to someone’s mobile phone (and tell them) that their crane is being overloaded, or if you want to know how hard your crane is working, the data logging will tell you that,” he says.

Andrew says he stepped back into Robway after hearing of its demise “by accident”.

“My wife has an art gallery at the front of the (Robway) building and we were having Christmas drinks,” he says.

“Some of the guys from Robway were there and told me they were going to be out of a job.

“I believed there was life in Robway yet, and there were sacrifices all round, but there was a complete change in company culture.

“Last year we stabilised things and I was prepared to take the risk involved in saving 15 jobs knowing it would be underpinned by the then-State Government’s Job Accelerator Grant.

“We’ve started hiring again and Robway now has a goal of sustainability rather than growth or profits.”

Andrew says the team at Robway comprises specialised software engineers who are the best in their field.

Such is their loyalty to the company that a number of employees have been with Robway for more than ten years, while one staff member is approaching almost three decades.

Robway safety and load monitoring systems are installed on cranes used offshore and onshore.

Robway load monitoring and safety systems are installed on cranes that are currently gracing the skyline not only across Australasia, but also here in Adelaide.

Among its clients is Port Augusta-based Max Cranes, while local construction projects, including the South Road corridor, “have cranes that have Robway systems on them for sure”.

Andrew says Adelaide provides good security for small businesses and that its working relationships are strong.

“Long term relationships are critical and seem to mean more in Adelaide,” he says.

“We need to jealously guard what we’ve got rather than letting it go offshore or wither away.”

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

Inside the architecture of the new Rundle Mall Plaza, H & M store

Aspects in the design of the $40m Rundle Mall Plaza redevelopment featuring an H & M store will be a “standout” and will help reawaken a somewhat tired precinct along Adelaide’s premier retail strip.

Brand SA News caught up with one of the contributors to the four-storey redevelopment, Hames Sharley’s managing director Caillin Howard, for an insight into this retail and infrastructure coup.

Caillin, who has been with the Adelaide-based multidisciplinary design firm for almost 20 years, says the plaza revamp is one of Hames Sharley’s most exciting projects.

“Rundle Mall Plaza isn’t one of our biggest projects at the moment, but is it our favourite at the moment? Absolutely, because of its complexity, because it sits in the middle of the CBD, because it’s not just about retail,” he says.

“It has the ability to touch the most people in Adelaide, therefore it’s a pretty special project.”

Concept imagery of the plaza redevelopment.

Rundle Mall Plaza’s owner, The Weinert Group, announced the redevelopment plans in February, saying the addition of the Swedish fashion giant H & M would be a “significant drawcard for Rundle Mall in particular but Adelaide in general”.

While H & M will be the plaza’s major tenant, the redevelopment spans across four lower levels of the nine-storey building.

The lower ground is expected to become a ‘tech hub’ with offices and co-working spaces, while the ground floor will be dedicated to retail and fashion.

A new, higher-end dining precinct will unfold on level one, with large glass windows overlooking the mall, while a health and wellbeing precinct is envisaged for level two.

A multi-storey void at the main entrance will be a “standout architectural feature” and will host the relocated Progress statue, a welder copper sculpture created by Lyndon Dadswell in 1959.

The refurbished iconic Progress statue will mark the entrance to the plaza.

Caillin says the redevelopment presents a chance for the plaza to take better advantage of its Rundle Mall frontage as well as its activation with Gawler Place and the Myer Centre.

He says the higher-end dining precinct will also give shoppers and nearby workers another option to a unique dining experience able to be enjoyed within an office lunch break.

“You don’t have to have a burger, souvlaki, or sushi in a food court when you’re in that retail mall,” he says.

“You can go and have great fish and chips or great Italian and have a turnaround of 40 minutes rather than going to a café or restaurant.

“Adelaide has heaps of them (cafés and restaurants) and they’re brilliant, but you have to put aside an hour-and-a-half to do it.”

The dining precinct on level one will offer views over Rundle Mall.

Rundle Mall Plaza is just one of the many projects that Hames Sharley’s Adelaide team of 45 is working on, with the Cedar Woods housing development at Glenside among other ventures.

Its portfolio includes the design collaborations on the Adelaide Oval redevelopment and the University of Adelaide’s Braggs building, as well as the Channel Seven studios on Port Road, the Whyalla Hospital, Elizabeth Aquadome, and the West Lakes and Gilles Plains shopping centres.

Caillin says Hames Sharley prides itself on delivering “contextual architecture” by taking into consideration the impact of a building on its surroundings.

“We believe that architecture has a responsibility to answer to its city, site or location, so we have as much responsibility to give back as to take,” he says.

While born in SA, Caillin undertook his secondary and tertiary education in Perth, where he joined Hames Sharley in 1999.

Hames Sharley collaborated with BVN Donovan Hill on the design of The University of Adelaide’s award-winning science and research facility, The Braggs Building.

Hames Sharley is listed as one of the 100 largest design practices in the world and has offices in every capital city across Australia. It was established in Adelaide more than 40 years ago.

With a grandfather as a builder and a father as an architect, entering the world of design was almost inevitable for Caillin, also a keen cricketer and yachtsman.

Stepping up to the role of managing director in 2014, he says there is no shortage of leading architecture and design companies in Adelaide.

“When you have a look at the large practices across the country, I think over 50% of them started in Adelaide,” he says.

“There’s us, Woods Bagot, Hassell, all of these big players who originated out of Adelaide.

“For me, geographically, Adelaide is a great place to be … we have great education and really smart people.

“It’s a really good place to centrally locate the business.”

Rundle Mall Plaza redevelopment is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.