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Top opportunity in the top end


“Four years ago, we got into the rail industry and rail maintenance - that is now in the strongest growing arm of our business.” – Bob McKay, Director of Wulguru Group


ANZ customer Wulguru Group – an engineering and steel fabrication company


Any trip to regional Australia reveals the huge scale of opportunity. But to unlock that opportunity Australia needs increased infrastructure investment. When that investment is well-managed and well-targeted, it unlocks enormous economic opportunity.


That's certainly what I observed during a recent trip to Townsville visiting staff and customers. Locals are invested in finding out what that opportunity will drive - more companies being established, more innovation, more research and development, more high-quality jobs.


On my trip, I caught up with one of the Directors of Wulguru Group Bob McKay, who says all levels of government are starting to take notice of northern Australia’s competitive advantage.


Wulguru Group – an engineering and steel fabrication company –  was established in Townsville in 1976 primarily to service local copper refineries and abattoirs. It has since grown to include 250 staff across two workshop operations in Townsville and Brisbane covering a range of industries including fuel, rail maintenance, mining, sugar and meat processing.



“We continue to expand our operations and now service the fuel industry up and down the east coast of Australia,” Bob explains. “Four years ago, we got into the rail industry and rail maintenance - that is now the strongest growing arm of our business.”


Bob says rail represents about 35 per cent of the total business turnover, with steel representing another 30 per cent.


According to ANZ Regional Executive for North Queensland Lisa Hewitt, although only 5.3 per cent of the Australian population live in the northern regions it creates 11 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product.


“We haven't fully tapped into that resource yet. We see businesses like Wulguru having a really prosperous future ahead of them,” she says.


When thinking about northern Queensland, people commonly consider agriculture and mining, but those industries are actually driven by the manufacturing and industrial sector which feed off those industries.


Wulguru is a great example of that. The group has a steelworks which maintains the rolling stock and steel projects that service the mining and agricultural companies across the top end.


According to Bob, “If you're not continuing to grow, your business will be dying. And we've got some fairly aggressive growth plans.”


Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ

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