IN A CENTURY-old factory down a grassy street in Blackstone, O’Connell Agencies owner Kaitlyn Moore is bringing manufacturing back to Ipswich.
Nine machines housed on the factory’s ground floor turn strips of PVC into concrete column forms, ready to be shipped out to high-rise buildings under construction across Australia.
After taking it over 14 years ago, Ms Moore has turned the former import business into Australia’s biggest PVC column form manufacturer.
Her business has supplied some of the biggest construction projects in the country, including the 46-storey Queensland Government Executive Building and the 300m Homebush Bay Bridge in Sydney.
“My dad is a formworker, so I guess construction is in my blood,” Ms Moore said.
“I just love to see multi-level buildings going up or bridges going up – that’s the biggest thrill for me.”
The forms act as a mould to pour concrete in once on site, and each one is manufacturing specifically for each project.
“There’s a huge amount of engineering that goes into this product,” Ms Moore said.
Until last year, O’Connell Agencies was a Brisbane business with Ipswich employees.
But when an employee urged her to consider buying the vacant factory on Mary St, Ms Moore took the chance to move her business to the city she grew up in.
“It’s great to be back in Ipswich,” she said.
“Because of the strategic location of Ipswich, which is the centre of south-east Queensland, I’m able to tap into very large projects.”
Ms Moore decided to make the switch from importing five years ago thanks to a busy market and a belief in the manufacturing industry.
“Importing from China became very popular and I faced a lot of competition,” she said.
“I looked at a product that couldn’t be imported easily and had to be fabricated here…so I looked at columns.”
Her business has only grown from there and can now make column forms with a diameter of 600mm right up to 1.8m.
She said the next machine would arrive in coming months and could manufacture forms measuring up to 3.6m across.
“That’s for really big bridges and major infrastructure projects,” Ms Moore said.
She hopes to supply multi-level buildings in the Ipswich CBD and tap into projects such as the new casino planned in Brisbane.
The business has also expanded into manufacturing square column forms.
Ms Moore and her staff are now experimenting with new sizes for square columns to put themselves on the forefront of a building trend she expects to expand rapidly.
“I think it’s a bit of a sleeping giant and it start to really explode over the next couple of years,” she said.
Ms Moore said the team of 18 Ipswich staff were an invaluable part of the business’s success.
“My team are central to what I do,” she said.
“I appreciate being back in my home base and so do my staff.”
The mum of three said success in business was not about making money.
“It is difficult and it is constant, but you have to have the courage to do it,” she said.
“You have to be following your passions in life, and mine just happens to be columns.”
O’Connell Agencies will host an open day at the Mary St factory this Friday from 2pm-6pm.
Original Publish: http://www.qt.com.au/
BUDGET: Cash splashed to fix Ipswich’s congested highway
ONE of Ipswich’s worst intersections will be fixed with the Federal Government committing to fund an upgrade to the Cunningham Highway.
In his third budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison revealed $170 million would go towards improving the dreaded Amberley Interchange.
The project will include a realignment of the highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek and an upgrade of the Ipswich-Rosewood Rd.
Expansions and growing military activity at RAAF Base Amberley has put pressure on the interchange.
The $170 million funding injection also comes as the Ipswich City Council considers a proposal from Lantrak to move 1 million tonnes of landfill each year to rehabilitate the New Hope coal mine at Jeebropilly.
According to the application more than 250 heavy vehicles would transit the highway each day.
The government says the Cunningham Highway upgrade will “improve travel reliability and reduce congestion”.
It is expected the Queensland Labor Government will match the funding to start the $340 million project.
Federal Labor MP Shayne Neumann confirmed his party would offer bipartisan support and also commit to fixing the highway in a “major boost for the economic capacity of the Ipswich region”.
“The road takes 2700 heavy vehicle movements a day, and plays a significant role in transporting people and freight between Brisbane and Sydney,” he said.
“These vital upgrades to the Cunningham Highway have long been identified on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List.
“That’s why it’s disappointing the Turnbull LNP Government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fund this project.”
Become an entrepreneur
OLDER residents in Ipswich will be encouraged to become entrepreneurs so they can stay in the workforce longer.
The Federal Government will roll out 20 new entrepreneurship facilitators across the regions over the next four years.
Ipswich, along with central Queensland, Ballina and Tweed, will benefit from the program.
The small business experts will teach mature-age people how to start and maintain sustainable businesses.
The Federal Government has set aside $2.7 million in the 2018-19 financial year for the project.
A further $15 million will fund the program until June of 2022.
The government has also committed to continuing the Job Change project that assists mature-age workers to remain in the workforce as retirement and pension ages creep upwards.
Amberley cashes in on Defence spending
RAAF Base Amberley will take a share in millions of dollars in upgrades in the Defence portfolio.
A new Air Traffic Control Radar will be installed at Amberley as part of an estimated $96 million investment in new technology across several bases.
Working accommodation, maintenance, warehousing and training facilities will be built to support the introduction of the Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Capability aircraft.
The project is scheduled for completion by early 2021.
A C-17 maintenance facility, aircraft apron and associated infrastructure will also be constructed.
It is scheduled for completion by early 2019.
Australia’s largest solar farm planned near Ipswich
Somerset already hosts a number of energy projects including hydroelectric plants at Wivenhoe Dam and Splityard Creek Dam.Contributed
AUSTRALIA’S largest solar farm has been proposed for a rural site near Ipswich.
The proposed plant, east of Harlin along the D’Aguilar Highway, would have final capacity of 1,500 megawatts, six times larger than its closest rival.
Plans include two substations and the capacity to hire to 60 people.
The Sunraysia solar farm in NSW is Australia’s largest under construction, at 250 megawatts.
Other Australian solar farms of up to 1,000 megawatts have been proposed.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was a complex development application from Ethos Urban planning consultants.
The company has been involved in other large infrastructure projects throughout Australia, on behalf of Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd.
“We understand the attractions of the site include its proximity to the existing high voltage power network and proximity to Brisbane,” Cr Lehmann said.
“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area.
“The development application includes two substations, facilities for up to 60 employees and provision for battery storage.”
“The application has been referred to various government departments and agencies for their input and we will carefully assess it against our planning scheme like any other proposal.”
Somerset Regional Council is reviewing the application.
Education City link approved by Ipswich Council
A FOOTPATH that will link Springfield’s Education City to the Robelle Domain Parklands in Springfield Central has been approved by Ipswich City Council.
Plans were lodged by Springfield Land Corporation on February 2 this year and first approved on February 26.
However Ipswich City Council did not approve the use of Hoop Pines to landscape the pathway.
After some negotiating a new decision notice was issued on April 9 with the condition stipulating that Hoop Pines were not to be used deleted.
The land where the pathway is being constructed is lot 810 Sinnathamby Boulevard, Springfield Central.
Described as an open space boulevard pathway, the public concrete path and associated landscaping work has been approved in full subject to conditions.
Footpath lighting is to be installed, and a spotter catcher is to be engaged to supervise vegetation removal and ensure any native fauna including native bees are identified and relocated.
The spotter catcher is to submit a report before and after vegetation clearing works are undertaken detailing what wildlife has been identified and preventative and remedial actions taken to ensure animal safety.