Home in_30days "Building Tomorrow, Today: Shore Hire's Australian-Made Legacy

“Building Tomorrow, Today: Shore Hire’s Australian-Made Legacy

Whenever we choose products that are Australian made and owned, we aren’t just making a personal choice. We’re supporting local jobs, strengthening the economic backbone of the country, reducing our carbon footprint, ensuring quality and safety, and encouraging innovation.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of all that in action than Shore Hire.

These days, the name is synonymous with premium, tailored shoring, propping and traffic management solutions. But since the very beginning, back when patriarch, Peter Geelan, was hand painting and renting out barricades, their ethos has always centered around customer-driven product development. So, as CEO, Ashley Lancaster points out, it has always made sense to maintain complete ownership of the end-to-end process.

“Keeping it all in-house wherever possible means we can rapidly innovate, and respond to feedback,” he explains. “That’s only possible thanks to our exceptional engineers and innovation team who close that loop by getting out there and listening to what the market, our customers, and our people are telling us.”

Having expanded into key locations along the eastern seaboard, walking their talk on ‘local’ means the Australian Made promise is baked into everything they do.

“Our customers need very high-quality products. But they also need us to have the capability to move quickly,” Ashley explains. “You just can’t do that with an overseas supply chain.”

And when they say they do the lot, the Shore Hire team aren’t joking. “We run the whole show, from manufacture right through to asset management, and even the delivery,” Ashley says. “The vast majority of production is done by our own tradesmen in our own facilities, and our in-house engineers do the quality checks. Yes, that’s about quality control but it’s also about speed. We’re not waiting months and months to get products up to standard. I mean, it can literally be just a matter of days between an idea and a prototype.”

With innovation at the core of Shore Hire’s commitment to local design and manufacturing, it’s no surprise their catalogue of product offerings expands year on year.

“When they first went into shoring, obviously the business had Peter Geelan’s 50-odd years of experience to draw upon. Then, as time went on, they looked internationally at all the shoring products on offer and set about creating world-class solutions that could stand up to Australian conditions,” Ashley shares. “Listening to our customers has always been a huge part of our product development strategy. We’re constantly using customer feedback to help tailor products to suit new and niche applications.”

That laser focus on customer experience – the Geelans call it delivering the “wow factor” – also underpins Shore Hire’s famously empowering workplace culture.

“That’s critical to our success.” Ashley says. “Every member of the team really is proud to be part of the Shore Hire family. And that comes from Luke and Peter being so approachable and hands-on at every level.”

As the business has grown to some 170 staff and expanded well beyond the Sydney HQ, the secret to scaling that culture has come down to great communication. “We’re rolling out new initiatives, like our Town Hall meetings, where the executive team will go around each brand and update everyone on what’s happening in the business, locally to them,” Ashley explains. “Because at the end of the day, it’s important to us that everybody knows they’re part of the solution.”

When you’ve got that strong culture, staff retention tends to look after itself. Which, Ashley says, has flow-on benefits. “We have people that were with us from the first day and many who were there in the very first or second year still working for us,” he shares. “That adds up to an incredible amount of expertise. And it also promotes consistency in our customer relationships and their experience of working with us.”

Ashley, himself part of the Geelans’ story since 2005, has a background you don’t often see in a CEO. “I started out as a diesel mechanic with Caterpillar,” he recalls. “I worked my way up through parts operations, branch manager, parts operations manager, and regional manager before joining Shorco – the Geelans’ previous venture. After 15 years there, I was General Manager for New South Wales before making the decision to rejoin Luke and Pete in the Shore Hire business. That was back in February 2019.”

In taking on the challenge of leading one of the Aussie construction industry’s shining stars, Ashley has found his operational background to be a real asset. “I’ve obviously had to work hard to study and acquire a lot of those other skills that are required of any CEO these days,” he shares. “But having that foundation has been very helpful in my everyday job. My knowledge of the equipment and operations isn’t just theoretical. I’ve done all those jobs myself.”

Ashley’s appointment to the role is reflective of Shore Hire’s approach to recruitment more generally. “When you have that amazing culture, you want to protect it. So, Luke prioritises cultural fit. In looking for a CEO, for him that was about leadership. Can this person keep people engaged and get everyone behind our vision for the company? Will they care enough about our customers?”

As a safety business, you could argue the most important aspect of Shore Hire’s focus on Australian Made is their local knowledge of, and ability to stay ahead of the curve on, worksite safety needs and regulations.

“What’s really important in hire, but particularly in shoring and propping, is that every product that leaves the gate must be 100% safe,” Ashley says. “If they’re not right, consequences can be dire – people can lose their lives. So, it’s very important that our products are not only well designed and constructed, but also well maintained and inspected after every hire.”

This is yet another way that Shore Hire having ownership of the whole process offers their customers that extra peace of mind. “If something’s in Melbourne, Adelaide, or Brisbane and needs repair, we’ll transport that product back to our central repair facility to ensure we’re maintaining equipment to the highest standard,” he explains. “Right now, it’s difficult to scale that quality of repair facility at a local level, so we’re continuing to invest heavily in our centralised facility, so we know everything’s spot on.”

With a growing team and a product range that reaches well beyond their initial shoring and propping offerings (even including some tech-based solutions), what does the future have in store for Shore Hire?

Ashley Lancaster, CEO, Shore Hire

“We care about our people, our customers, and the wider community,” Ashley shares. “And serving them comes down to finding that sweet spot where quality craftsmanship meets innovation – that’s how we’ll continue to deliver that wow factor. You have to be ready to make decisions and get moving. Which also means not being afraid to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. That said we don’t fail too often.”

Spend enough time around the team, as we have, and you’re left with the overwhelming sense that at the heart of every project, in every piece of equipment they build, and in every job opportunity they create, Shore Hire proudly embodies the spirit of Australian ingenuity, resilience, and workmanship. They’re certainly doing their part to build a stronger tomorrow.

shorehire.com.au

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