How Cyclone Marcia saved a Gladstone business

TWENTY-five new jobs have been created by a Gladstone construction business through diversifying and breaking into new industries.

When Cyclone Marcia devastated plantations in Byfield Wayne Rabbitts - owner of RABCO Civil Plant Hire and Construction - saw potential.

He secured a contract with HQ Plantations that will keep his employees in a job for at least the next 12 months with 21 drivers carting logs five days a week, 24 hours a day.

Since HQ Plantations began the Byfield salvage operation in May, 250,000 tonnes of logs have been harvested and brought to Gladstone for export as sawlog and woodchips.

Four export log shipments have already left Gladstone with a fifth scheduled for mid-October.

The entire operation will see up to one million tonnes of logs and woodchips move through the Gladstone Port.

For Mr Rabbitts, the opportunity to break into a new industry has saved his business from the economic downturn that has hit plant and hire equipment companies hard.

Helen Spelitis

Winning the contract to haul the logs for HQ Plantations allowed him to hire the 21 drivers and five support staff over the past three months - leaving him with more 50 local employees.

"This has really opened the door for us into the logging industry," Mr Rabbitts said.

"We were really starting to feel the downturn before.

"But now we have work for at least 12 months and hopefully longer."

HQ Plantations CEO Brian Farmer said replanting in the Byfield area had already started and the company plans to have 500 hectares planted by June next year.