More than 100 new jobs will be created when the Oreco Group, rated as Australia’s largest producer of garden enhancement products, completes a $20.8 million expansion at Childers later this year.
Assistant to the managing director, Amber Gilbert, said the development was expected to quadruple current production of home garden and commercial horticultural products and support the introduction of new products.
The business originally traded under the name Australian Prime Fibre.
Under the guidance of managing director Paul Woosley, a factory was established to convert cane trash into garden mulch and potting mix. The trash blanket, which normally lay in the field after harvesting or was raked and burnt, is purchased from local farmers.
Ms Gilbert said the construction of the new manufacturing hub would increase the workforce to around 140 personnel.
Oreco Group jobs also for trainees and apprentices
“The new jobs will be a mix of skilled and unskilled positions and include numbers of apprentices and trainees,” Ms Gilbert said.
“Jobs will include technicians, machinery operators, labourers and administration officers.”
Ms Gilbert said the new factory would comprise an administration area, storage and manufacturing facilities, parking, and be substantially solar powered.
“More than a hectare of ground mounted solar panels will be installed which will significantly reduce the energy costs we are currently paying,” she said.
The new factory will incorporate technology that will enable Oreco to expand its current range of products.
Stock fodder through the use of cane tops mixed with various supplements will be high on the list of product priorities with animal bedding also expected to be produced.
“We will be able to get in with toppers prior to harvesting,” Ms Gilbert said.
“We will have special dryers that will ensure moisture content is removed prior to packaging and provide a product with a shelf life of 12 to 24 months.
“Work is currently under way on the building pad and we anticipate, weather permitting, that the new buildings will be completed by early July.
Region supplies 90pc of Oreco Group material
Site production manager John Whelpton said the factory operated on a continuous two-shift basis with a four-hour maintenance program also scheduled.
With productivity at the plant to be ramped up, John said there's a need to ensure a continuous supply of raw material.
“While 90 per cent of our material will be sourced locally we have some storage at Mackay which can provide an essential buffer to ensure the operation remains seamless,” he said.
While the current construction work will deliver the factory and administration buildings, a second stage will provide an all-weather, multi-user regional freight centre which will ensure a vastly enhanced supply chain.
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