Founder and owner of one of the biggest up-and-coming companies in construction transportation, Australian Truck Hire Company, Kevin Kealy has been involved in Australia’s tight-knit pipeline industry for over a decade.
Getting his start in the transport industry in 2002 with a truck hire firm that hired into the gas pipeline industry, Mr Kealy has an extensive knowledge of what it takes to supply various industries with the vehicles they need.
Mr Kealy has been involved on many major projects across the country since his career in the industry started, including the SEA Gas Pipeline, the Moranbah to Townsville gas pipeline, all stages of the Dampier Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline projects, the QSN 3 Gas Project and all gas gathering projects in Queensland, and the upcoming Longford to Long Island Point replacement pipeline.
Mr Kealy believes that knowing the industry inside out is key to surviving in today’s climate.
“I think the industry has got so competitive over the last few years that people didn’t really know what they were talking about, or lost the vision of quality in the product,” said Mr Kealy.
“You need to be able to keep up quality in the product and know the industry well.
“The world got too used to an over-supply of projects in the industry, and so the quality of service went down.
“We kept our quality high and met the industry needs, but had to do it at a reduced rate at the same time.”
Reflecting on the changes during his time in the industry, particularly in terms of transport services, Mr Kealy cites vehicle maintenance in remote areas, safety and regulation changes as the biggest challenges faced by ATHC.
“The industry is always changing, every site is different,” said Mr Kealy.
“You have your big companies such as Santos, QGC and Origin Energy – they each have their own safety requirements for their sites so we build a truck that meets all of their safety requirements as a standard.
“The biggest challenge for us is supplying vehicles that will fit all their safety requirements, not just the one set of site-specific rules. We’ve got to meet probably 10 or 15 different site-specific rules.”
Despite the challenges that have to faced, Mr Kealy believes that members of the closely-connected pipeline industry are out to look after one another.
With the recent boom in gas and pipeline projects now slowing down, Mr Kealy says you can now walk into a job and see at least 20 to 30 people that you know, rather than walking into new project and only recognising a couple of faces.
“I think it’s a long-term friendship and relationship-based industry where you’ve got to really prove what you can do to perform well and get the jobs, as well as having a well-known name in the industry.
“Whether it was associated with previous hire firms I worked for or what I’m involved in today, it’s the personal name that sticks, not the company.”
ATHC has been a member of the APGA since the company’s inception in 2012.
Mr Kealy has been involved in the Association since 2004 when he was a Project Manager with NationWide Hire.
Citing the importance of being connected with APGA, Mr Kealy says it is a great way to make a name for yourself in the industry – so much so that ATHC last year upgraded its membership with APGA to that of a Lead Member.
“We heavily promote that we’re a lead member of APGA, we follow its updates – not that they have many rules and regulations for policy on truck hire – but you still need to be aware of any changes in the industry and what everybody else is doing rather than just truck hire,” said Mr Kealy.
Passing on advice to the younger generation entering the industry, Mr Kealy echoed his earlier sentiments on making sure that you provide the highest-quality available, whether it be products or services.
“It’s all about having a good quality product, as well as looking after the customer while being on call 24/7.
“It’s not an industry that works from nine-to-five on weekdays; it’s an industry that works basically every single day of the year.”
When he can find the time for activities outside work, Mr Kealy is a keen fisherman.
However, he adds that his golf game isn’t too shabby either