$20M PLANT: How garden business grew into powerhouse
One local business has embraced the notion of bigger and better business, increasing their capacity by five times with a multimillion-dollar expansion.
Based in Isis Central, Oreco Group have been growing their facilities with support from the Queensland Government to create a new $20.8 million manufacturing hub.
Oreco Group is reportedly Australia's largest producer of retail-ready garden products including sugar cane mulch for major retailers like Bunnings.
Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said the expansion project near Childers was brought forward by three years thanks to support from the Palaszczuk Government's $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund.
Oreco's managing director Paul Woosley said the company started as a nursery supply business and with part of the government grant they'd been able to diversify into animal food and bedding, and innovative new products.
One of their processes is to take residual cane trash and turn it into a mulch or animal bedding. Mr Woosley said this was a value-adding avenue for farmers - where some farmers previously burnt cane trash, now could sell it with a "great return for it".
Work to expand the local facilities began in August, 2019.
Mr Woosley said there was a "massive" need for the expansion with the pandemic ramping up business.
"One of the main drivers was COVID with people staying at home just looking for something to do for their mental stability... they were planting veggie gardens, flowers and different products in and around their home," he said.
"The increase in volume during that period, some products were up 500 per cent on, the market did really accelerate quickly; we were lucky to take advantage of that with the new facilities that we have through partnering with the Queensland Government."
In one of the new sheds Oreco bags a range of products and bale their mega bales.
"If you look at the potting mix or the fertiliser products that we do in there, about 15 million bags a year comes out of that building," he said.
"The big baling is a new concept, it's the first in Australia and third in the world, and we are making some serious roads into the export market and also the local market as well with that size bale for bedding or for animal feed."
From the local site they supply Australia-wide and they're just starting to send container load samples to Japan and the Philippines.
Another new facility on-site, an all-weather, multi-user regional freight centre, will allow Oreco to store products for other customers.
This facility is expected to be completed within the next 8 weeks.
While there's new infrastructure up and running about the site, Oreco's workforce is likewise expanding.
In less than a year they've grown from a team of about 35 staff to 85 and have no intention of slowing down.
"If I listen to the real estate agents, they're busy, everything is moving and selling fast, there's no rental properties available in the area; that means there's a thriving economy."
Visiting the site today with Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith, Mr Dick said this was a great project they were able to support.
"Over the next five years, the investment we've made here will create 140 new manufacturing jobs," he said.
"We know how important manufacturing is to Queensland, but in particular regional Queensland."
Praising the value-adding work of Oreco's business and it's supply across the nation, Mr Dick said "every day, every 14 seconds around Australia a product that comes out of this facility is bought by an Australian around the country".
"This is an amazing story of flexibility, of endurance but most importantly of innovation," he said.
"We make the best in Queensland for Australia and the world."
Mr Smith said this was another example of a Bundaberg business supplying the nation.
"We make sure that we're backing regional Queenslanders, we're backing locals for their jobs as well; but we supply all of Queensland and all of Australia," he said.