Burnett company to begin first stage of $24M expansion
DESPITE the effects of the coronavirus pandemic being felt across the region, the South Burnett has a huge reason to celebrate as work on a new major development begins.
Locally owned and operated producer of nuts, oils and butters, Proteco Oils will soon start the first stage of a $24 million expansion project in Kingaroy.
In a showcase of regional solidarity, and with the support of all levels of government, the project will involve the construction of a new state-of-the-art processing facility on industrial land purchased from the South Burnett Regional Council.
Proteco Oils managing director Josh Gadischke said even though COVID-19 was causing some short-term disruptions, the business was still working towards an April start date for construction, and the facility was set to open at the end of the year.
“This project has been a long time coming, and given the current economic environment, we are hoping we can get the construction under way in a safe manner, while providing a significant economic boost for the region,” Mr Gadischke said.
“Wherever possible, we will be engaging trades, services and suppliers from the South Burnett to complete the construction.
“We will also be upskilling 10 of our 38 staff members in advanced manufacturing, and creating eight new jobs to assist in the new facility once it opens.
“The facility will be a showcase of the most innovative technology and processes in the food processing industry, and it will be right here in Kingaroy.”
A first of its kind in Australia, the facility will be designed with high-level automation to reduce energy use and processing waste, increase efficiencies, and where possible, remove operators from the factory floor and move them into control room environments.
“We will be implementing computer monitoring of every single processing function, which allows us to optimise even the smallest parts of the process to improve yields,” Mr Gadischke said.
“Our energy use will decrease by an estimated 11 per cent per tonne of raw material and processing waste is set to fall by as much as 85 per cent, which is critical to maintaining global competitiveness.”
South Burnett Regional Council CEO Mark Pitt said the Proteco expansion was an opportunity council was not going to pass up on due to the significant economic benefits it would bring to the region.
“Council had industrial land waiting in the wings for a project that would deliver significant benefits to the South Burnett region, and the proposed expansion of Proteco Oils triggered its release to the open market,” Mr Pitt said.
“The project will strengthen the manufacturing industry in the region and boost the food processing and advanced manufacturing credentials of the South Burnett.
“In these challenging times, we expect the project to have a wide-reaching impact on the local economy, provide new job opportunities for locals and have a positive impact on the region’s nut growers.”
As a third-generation Kingaroy resident, Mr Gadischke said he had no plans to move the business away from the South Burnett.
In the past eight years he said Proteco had increased staff by 375 per cent, from eight staff members to 38, and eight more jobs would be created from stage one of the expansion project.
“The nature of the business means that we could operate from any location, however we want to remain in Kingaroy and support the region and the people,” Mr Gadischke said.
“Our expansion has received tremendous support from SBRC, which sold us the land and assisted with the planning and feasibility stages of the project.
“The project has also been supported by local State Member Deb Frecklington and Federal Member David Littleproud, who have both acknowledged the success of Proteco Oils over the past few years.”