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Family business prospers

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MIGHTY oaks grow from little acorns…this old proverb is an apt description of Bowen’s Hillery Group.

The company is now one of the biggest employers in town and completes projects from jobs around homes, to massive roadmaking and culverts for rail tracks – such as from the Bowen Basin coalmines to Abbott Point.

But it all began about 44 years ago when husband and wife team – Jamee, a diesel mechanic, and Janice Hillery – bought a truck and started doing small jobs for the local council and river trust.

“The council would hire the truck for whatever jobs needed doing and they started trucking,” CEO Luke Hillery said.

“Then they got a second truck, then a third and it all grew from there.”

Now the company has 320 vehicles, ranging from small trucks to articulated versions, graders, dozers, loaders, excavators and everything needed for major projects.

And there are more than 100 employees, including office staff, as well as the outdoor crews.

“Myself and my brother Liam took over from mum and dad, in 2019, I’d been working for them for about 10 years at that stage,” Mr Hillery said.

Luke started work in his gap year (before heading to university) and never left. Liam started as a diesel fitter and they now run a massive concern.

The Hillery Group operates four quarries in the Whitsunday region – there are quarries in Bowen, Collinsville and Abbot Point – as well as a decomposed granite pit and sand reserve, just outside Bowen, and they supply raw materials to many other companies in similar fields.

Among the company’s clients are Whitsunday Regional Council, Collinsville Coal, Abbot Point, North Queensland Bulk Ports and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Some contracts are for a few hundred dollars, such as projects around homes, to hundreds of thousands, such as drainage work installing water pipes, to others in the millions such as completing a project at the Bowen harbour entrance or recovery work after natural disasters on rural roads around Collinsville and Mt Coolum.

Luke said the company had a major commitment to hiring local people, where possible, and reversing a trend of youngsters leaving Bowen for opportunities in the capital and major cities.

“We look at Bowen high school as producing many of our future workers, particularly in occupations such as civil engineers, project managers and trades such as boilermakers, even labourers.

“More than 15 per cent of our workforce is indigenous and we are continuously creating more opportunities in our region.

“Our company recruits young apprentices and trainees from local communities regularly. Where possible, we offer long-term jobs to those who complete our meticulous training process.

“We work with local sub-contractor fleets and suppliers and will always source and purchase locally whenever possible to support the Central Queensland economy.”

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