WE HAVE A PASSION FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS William Phelan SYSTEMS MELBOURNE As one of Ecotech’s earliest (but not oldest!) employees, I have seen, experienced, and been involved with a huge variety of projects at Ecotech. I started in 1990 as a casual employee, fresh out of school. It was just a few hours a week. Perfect for a student. The boss was keen to get me involved. Day one was learning some ropes and meeting some of the Ecotech pioneers: Robert Wang, Dianne van Meurs, Wynne Dunne, Robert Maxwell, Chris Fowler, Peter Saro, and of course Robert and Judy Dal Sasso. “Can you come in on Saturday?” said Robert, “We’ve got to go to Geelong to move a van.” So the next Saturday morning we were off to the Shell Refinery in Geelong. Here, out the back of a paddock was an odd looking caravan. Gas cylinders leaning against the wall, glass tube poking out the roof, something on top of a mast. This was no holiday rental (although the spiders and snakes may disagree). lines were above the standard levels. We had to move the van because the residents in the next suburb were concerned about the refinery and their kids at school. The next Saturday, Robert put me to work sweeping the floors of the Blackburn building. There was just the one building at the time and it was only half of #12 Apollo Court. The other half of the building was rented. I thought it best to show my enthusiasm so started sweeping enthusiastically. Robert was not impressed with the cloud of dust I had stirred up! Why would the dust matter? Well, dust causes breathing difficulties. And the neighbours wouldn’t be impressed with me covering their things with a layer of dust. Ecotech was a global exporter even in the early days. We sent systems all over the world, to places like Cyprus, India, Mexico and Indonesia. These countries have the worst air pollution. Strange that they would want to measure the air quality. Maybe they want to fix the problem, or at least understand it. Opening the door of the van revealed all sorts of instruments, loads of spaghetti like tubing, bunches of wiring, the odd spare analyser part. A chart recorder was spitting out reams of paper with squiggly lines. Robert explained what some of the Even in the early days, Ecotech did lots of Research & Development (R&D). It was an essential part of the business. Every job required something different and Ecotech had to adapt designs to suit the customer. That sounds familiar! Image by: William Phelan Image by: William Phelan Some of the early R&D projects include the rainwater sampler, and the MicroVol. The rainwater sampler had been developed by CSIRO, and commercialised by Ecotech, for collecting rain samples to allow us to measure the acid rain. The sulfur emitted from industrial exhaust stacks was damaging the environment by forming acids that were running into the soil and destroying the vegetation. I still remember flying into Mt Isa and seeing the huge area of land that was stripped of vegetation downstream of the main stack. These instruments were part of a CSIRO study that was going to raise the standards. The MicroVol had similar roots – CSIRO and Ecotech worked together to design and commercialise a simple low-cost sampler that could be used indoors to monitor air quality. The first ones were used for a study on the effects of cigarette smoke. We work in a vibrant environment where there is something to be learnt every day. A new challenge. A new solution. A new problem being solved by a great team of clever people. For me, that’s what makes Ecotech great. ECOTECH : TOGETHER
OUR FRIENDS ACROSS THE GLOBE 2014 American Ecotech USA American Ecotech was founded in 2001. The idea was to see if we could duplicate Ecotech’s customer centric approach in the formidable and highly competitive North American market. By mimicking all the great things Ecotech was doing historically in Australia, the audacious goal of tackling the world’s most challenging, competitive landscape was undertaken. 15 years later, the Ecotech brand is highly regarded throughout all of North America. The reasons for success to date, against all odds, is best illustrated by two stories: Story # 1: Back in the early days of American Ecotech, Robert Dal Sasso (at that time the Ecotech President) was visiting in Oklahoma to assist with training of one of our first new American customers. As Robert struggled through a doorway, carrying a 60 lb analyser box into the building for customer training purposes, the customer confided quietly that the Presidents of most other companies would be unlikely to help their customers out like that, let alone be investing their time out in that region. Here lies one of the secrets to Ecotech’s success... Everyone in the company helps out – no exceptions. Story # 2: During the early operation of our first turnkey ambient monitoring system in the USA, Nicholas Dal Sasso was at one point sweating in the Californian dust, groping under the monitoring shelter and methodically checking wiring to resolve a communications issue (which turned out to be a very tricky matter of vermin eating through met cable sheathing). Yet another example of going above and beyond for the customer, in order to successfully deploy and operate the first Ecotech turnkey system in the USA. Once again, “everyone in the company helps out”. You could fill an entire book with similar anecdotes about each and every Ecotech and American Ecotech employee respectively, and it’s one of the secret recipes to Ecotech’s success... “Everyone helps out”. These type of efforts have resulted in Ecotech product now being deployed in places ranging from Alaska to the Azores, Hawaii to Halifax, and hundreds of points in between. Ecotech has much more work yet to be done here in North America, but the foundation bedrock of outstanding customer service combined with dedicated team work, are features that continue to define the heart of our operations. Ecotech Industries Pvt Ltd opens in India _ Ecotech NZ Environmental Ltd opens in New Zealand Hans Engelhardt HEALTH, SAFETY, ENVIRONMENT & QUALITY MELBOURNE The company I was with before, I was with them for about 8 years before I thought it was time to slow down a bit, but I didn’t enjoy the slow down after just a month! So I applied for any job that was going and because I am reasonably good with my hands, saw the ad looking for production employees so I applied and I was told I was overqualified. But I said, “look I know I can do the job” and James Agius said okay. I started in production, down in Blackburn. While there, the Store Manager left and James asked me if I wanted to take over Store Manager role - I was there for about four years. We shifted from the Blackburn to Knoxfield premises over the Christmas period. We had just put the shelves up in the stores, and the wooden boards Image of: India, factory were just plain wood and I didn’t like that, so my wife and I came over and painted the boards. I got told I had to take my holiday and so we went on an extended holiday, we were away for three months. But because it was such a long time away from the store, I didn’t want to have nobody there during the time. So they got somebody to replace me and said they would find me something when I get back. Because of my other qualifications I helped Rob Brown out in Occupational Health & Safety (OHS). I also spent a lot of time in the systems department and production. Especially if they had a special project or something that needed fine tuning. It helps to be flexible in this place. The thing is for me, the company looks after you and you look after the company. It’s a pleasure to work and I enjoy coming to work. The job suits me. 57
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ECOTECH INDUSTRIES FREDA KEUNG ECOT
"Very efficient. Competitive pricing. The reminders, I’m so busy in my job that it’s so great to have a reminder to do something. It really helps me.
I’m very happy".
- Tim Cannon – Research and Development Manager; Pecan Engineering Pty Ltd