If 2020 taught us all some lessons in resilience and making some tough calls, 2021 is shaping up as the year to build back better.
In my conversations with customers, I sense a shift and some positive signs of optimism – in spite of the occasional COVID spotfires we have seen in NSW, WA and most recently Victoria, over the past few months.
The way in which Australia, at large, appears to have adapted to a new norm of COVID-safe living and working, coupled with the national vaccine rollout program which is now underway, has given the economy and markets a much-needed boost. Consumer confidence is rising and Governments are now looking to move and prioritise ‘shovel-ready’ nation-building, large-scale infrastructure works to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
There’s a long road ahead, but in line with the Aussie-spirit we are collectively rallying and rising to the challenge. It’s time to get on with it.
Aided by the resilient Australian economy, and the swift and decisive protective measures we introduced when the pandemic first hit last year to insulate our business, InfraBuild has similarly weathered the storm. Thank you to you – our customers – for your continued support, patronage and understanding.
It’s what I’ve been most proud of – the hard work, dedication and commitment shown by the InfraBuild team, and the strong and enduring partnerships with our customer-base. We can have robust conversations and constructive dialogue with a shared goal to improve and move forward. It stands us in good stead as we now look ahead.
We’re already recognised as a low-carbon steel manufacturer, but we’re not resting on those laurels. We have ambitious plans for our future, including a massive investment in GREENSTEEL strategies that will strengthen our leading position in the Australian infrastructure market. Our continuous improvement cycle of energy efficiency programs and equipment upgrade plans will continue to improve energy productivity at our mini-mills and Electric Arc Furnaces in Melbourne and Sydney, to lower our emissions further. We are also assessing our pipeline of energy projects to determine whether carbon credits can be created for the emissions that have been avoided. We continue to look for opportunities to participate in the wholesale energy market in partnership with GFG’s SIMEC Energy Australia business, to source access to renewable energy to produce even greener steel.
In parallel, our continuous improvement philosophy has empowered the entire team to innovate and find ongoing efficiencies and provide an improved service offer to meet the needs of our customers. We know that sustainability, throughout the supply chain, is an increasing area of sharpening focus for our customers. We continue to build on our reputation as an industry leader through our work in this area which includes product innovations such as our low-carbon, high-strength Viribar® reinforcing steels and SENTINEL® Mesh, and our updated Environmental Product Declarations – which provides customers with transparent sustainability data on our products. Simply put, we make Australian steel for a sustainable future.
Success and sustainability in the long-term is also underpinned by valuing and embracing diversity, and where required, challenging and making changes to the status quo. It’s no secret that steel has traditionally been a ‘male industry’. But it shouldn’t stay that way. Last year we appointed Amanda Charalambous as our Northern Territory State Manager, the first time a woman has led a state or territory team. We’ve also started, within our business, a Women’s Network to promote a more inclusive, diverse and respectful workforce. Next month our business will celebrate International Women’s Day and I encourage us all to embrace the theme – apt in these COVID times – from challenge comes change, let’s choose to challenge. We have some way to go on our road to equality but we’re on our way.
Our track-record is one of excellence and delivery, and while I’m proud of our history in the nation-building of Australia, I’m energised more by the opportunities that lie ahead, the positive changes our business is making to embrace and champion diversity, and above all, the returning optimism I see in the market.
Let’s get to work and build back better, and stronger together.
Dak Patel is the LIBERTY Steel Group Regional President (Australia and USA) and CEO InfraBuild
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