$6-million boost for Colac timber company

AKD chief executive Shane Vicary is pictured with state-of-art log turner and de-barker machinery, which the company imported from Germany.

A COLAC timber company chief says a state-of-the-art $6-million development will boost productivity, efficiency and job security at the plant.

Contractors are building and assembling a log turner and de-barker at AKD’s Colac site, which chief executive Shane Vicary said he hoped would increase production by 25 per cent.

Mr Vicary said the completed project would allow the company to halve production and shifts at its Irrewarra site without sacrificing jobs.

“Ultimately it means that we are going to reduce Irrewarra from two shifts to one and bring that production through to Colac,” Mr Vicary said.

“The people employed on the second shift at Irrewarra are going to come into the Colac mill so there are no redundancies,” he said.

Mr Vicary said the project was a positive move for the company at an uncertain time for the Australian sawmilling industry.

“We are investing in the business when nobody else is – it’s pretty tough times for sawmilling in Australia at the moment,” Mr Vicary said.

“The markets are very, very soft and prices are depressed,” he said.

“With things being very, very tight we’re having to look at ways of creating efficiencies.

“Nobody is being made redundant, we’re not doing anything like that, we are just looking at being more efficient.”

Mr Vicary said AKD was excelling in uncertain times and the company had plans for a stage two development, which could increase its production capacity by 25 per cent from July and create more jobs and further job security.

He said stage two would be a case of maximising the capabilities of the new plant and machinery.

“The investment of the $6 million is a fairly clear sign of faith in the business from the owners – they believe in AKD,” Mr Vicary said.

“And it’s off the back of what is a very good operating site and we’ve got a good workforce,” he said.

Mr Vicary said he expected stage one of the project to be finished by April with the second Irrewarra shift phased out between then and July.

He said the company “saw it as critical” to enlist Colac and district contractors for the project, while it imported the machinery from Germany.

“We didn’t go to tender based on historical relationships and our belief in those firms – we didn’t see the need to beat up local guys by having a couple of big Melbourne firms tense it up,” Mr Vicary said.

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