Changing of guard for TEYS

23rd June 2017 9:30 AM
Stephen Thomson will take over the reins at Teys Biloela plant from from Duncan Downie. Stephen Thomson will take over the reins at Teys Biloela plant from from Duncan Downie. Vanessa Jarrett

AFTER 33 years, General Manager Duncan Downie will retire from Teys Australia's Biloela plant, before moving to Gladstone.

Duncan first moved to Biloela in 1984 with his wife Gail and their four children.

The plan was to do two years' country service.

"We both liked it so I left DPI and commenced working for Teys Australia in 1987,” Duncan said.

"We've had a wonderful life here; in fact, we have now lived here longer than anyone else.

"We have many long-time friends in Biloela and it will seem strange moving away.”

Duncan has worked in many roles over the years at the plant, spending the last 14 as the General Manager.

"GM has been the most rewarding because it provided the opportunity to change the plant into what we are today,” he said.

"The culture of the workforce here at the plant is probably the most rewarding aspect for me.

"Just walking around the plant and seeing people happy to be at work and appreciating the opportunities which they get is a very rewarding feeling.”

The meatworks has come a long way in Duncan's time.

"I have witnessed the plant evolve from an old-style meat plant into a high-performing modern beef processing facility,” he said.

"The plant commenced at 221 head per day back in 1984 and now we process 680 head on one shift.”

In his early days, Duncan said he had to deal with a lot of industrial issues in the 80's, 90's and even the early 2000's, but those days are long gone now.

"These days our staff turnover is very low for the meat industry and we haven't had any industrial issues to deal with more than 14 years,” he said.

"That is something we are very proud of.”

Duncan said that was one of the biggest challenges he has had to face; the misconception that the plant goes through staff quickly.

"We place a high value on our staff and the fact that we have had so many people with well over 15 years of service confirms that we are doing is working,” he said.

"We still have a small group that have been here for over 30 years.”

There is a lot more than meets the eye to work at the plant, Duncan said.

"Keeping it all together with the current food safety requirements is not easy,” he said.

"We find that we have to put a lot of effort into training staff to ensure they understand the level of monitoring which occurs in our industry.

"The discipline required to ensure the safety of our products can be a little confronting for some people.

"The ramifications of us getting it wrong as too severe to comprehend so our standards are non-negotiable and that is the food industry industry worldwide not just here in Biloela.”

Replacing Duncan will be Steve Thomson, who has worked at the plant for the past 16 years.

”Steve has a solid background in operations as result of having worked in every department over the years,” he said.

"I am very confident that I leave the plant with a great team to carry on the business with Steve taking on the reins and leading the plant through the next chapter.”

Steve was surprised with Duncan's announcement and is excited to take over.

"I plan on keeping it exactly the way it was,” Steve said.

"It will be a big challenge and big shoes to fill.”