Business

Gladstone ‘convert’ set for a new challenge

FAREWELL: GILG chief executive Kurt Heidecker is moving on after seven years.
FAREWELL: GILG chief executive Kurt Heidecker is moving on after seven years. Tom Huntley

KURT Heidecker came to Gladstone in 2009 on a four-month contract to set up the Gladstone Industry Leadership Group. His job was to recruit a group CEO.

Seven years later, he is about to leave that role, and leave a region he has grown to love.

It hasn't always been that way. His first visit was about 30-odd years ago with his father; they stood at Auckland Point, looking out at the harbour.

"I wasn't impressed at all," he said.

When he was invited to set up the industry group he still had that impression in his mind, although it wasn't an issue because it was just for four months.

"I was on sabbatical from an IT company at the time, and was a good opportunity to fill in some time.

"But after being here for that time I realised, some way through the recruitment process that my impression had completely turned around and I decided to go for the job myself."

The impression of Gladstone felt by him so long ago is still one that Gladstone suffers from, he explains.

"It goes back for many years - probably 50 or so. In fact, the forerunner to Gladstone Area Promotions and Development Limited was an image committee.

"The fact is that industry is a major part of our being. Our challenge is for people within our community to agree that they live in a wonderful place which has a huge amount to offer.

"It needs to start with the cab driver, the blokes around the barbie, to say 'I love living in Gladstone'. Once we achieve that we can then pass the message on to the wider community outside of Gladstone.

"I can recall taking people from other parts of the country on industry tours and they have said 'I can see the sky!' They have been stunned at how clean our community is."

He said it is important that the people of Gladstone promote the great things about living in the region - the prosperity, quality of life, no traffic issues.

The past seven years have seen significant changes and a diversification of industrial sectors, he said.

"For many years our economy was based around aluminium. The extension into the energy industry has been a good thing. It means that we don't have all our eggs in one basket so that when one commodity is struggling another will be doing OK.

"Every year I've been here the leaders of our major industries have had to cope with significant challenges - the Australian dollar, emissions, renewable energy target, skills shortages, wage pressures; and it's a credit to the leaders that they have been able to continue to operate."

He has seen his role as a bridge between industry and community.

"When I arrived here it was a very emotional situation - there was a common outrage in the community about various issues such as air quality and industrial operations in general. There was a huge amount of suspicion. There still is and the issues are still there to some extent, but at least there's a better understanding. However, it's not one of those issues where you can just tick a box. It's an ongoing conversation that has to be had."

Following a "boom" four years ago where the city has seen the largest surge in construction ever, he now describes the present climate as "boom normal; back to doing what we have been doing for many years - processing minerals and adding value to them".

"We are now back to the point where we have thousands of people working in several world-class industries."

He says there will be no significant projects at least over the next five years.

"It's quite likely that the next cycle will come from a totally unexpected sector.

"If you had said to someone that there was an industry to be had from coal seam gas, which was a nuisance to the coal industry, you would have been laughed at. Look what's just happened here - a completely new massive industry!"

So where to from now for Kurt?

"My partner Julie-Ann has found it hard to find satisfying work in Gladstone. She came here because of my job. Now it's time for her to have her turn. She has found a job she loves on the Gold Coast and I will follow her and see what happens."

Mr Heidecker will be replaced by Patrick Hastings, who knows Gladstone well. He is currently employed in the LNG industry in Western Australia, and was formerly working for QGC in Gladstone.

Topics:  gladstone industry leadership group



Foodies' scavenger hunt: are you up for it?

IF YOU want to give your tastebuds the flavour sensations of a lifetime, here is the ultimate foodie’s scavenger hunt through Brisbane.

5 minutes with Israel Folau on footy, life and love

Israel Folau and Silver Fern netballer Maria Tutaia announced their engagement last last year.

WE CAUGHT up with football star and Brisbane ex-pat Israel Folau.

10 reasons to head to South Bank this summer

Head to the only inner-city beach in Australia!

South Bank has a ridiculous amount of fun things to do.

Five mammoth events you need in your life

No Caption

BRISBANE isn’t known for doing things by halves…

How to make your child's every dream come true...

Take a dip at South Bank in the inner-city beach.

‘I DON’T want to do fun things, Mum and Dad’… said no child ever!

How to do Eat Street the right way

Know where to start and where to end to avoid a huge food coma before you get to experience all the goodies!

EVERY Friday and Saturday night, Hamilton comes alive.

You can do WHAT in Brisbane?!

Talk about arriving in style! Take your pub crawl to the next level with a helicopter!

BET you didn't know you could do these things in Brisbane...

'Priority': $80m upgrade due for Gladstone's port

SPECIAL TREATMENT: Port upgrade is considered one of the states highest priority infrastructure projects.

Port upgrade high on State Government's to do list.

Two CQ mines likely to kick off in 2017

Two key projects look likely to go ahead this year.

Hundreds of jobs this year

New opportunities to gain career in the mining industry

Wesfarmers Curragh Mine Blackwater.
Photo Meghan Kidd / CQ News

Wesfarmers Resources opens trainee and apprenticeship intakes

Local Partners

GALLERY: Goondoon Street beginning to look great

Stage one of the Goondoon Street upgrade is almost complete.


New Year New Yard

Win $1000 Bunnings Voucher
Learn More

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

11 huge events coming to Gladstone in the next 6 months

Events coming up in Gladstone in 2017.

Your guide to exciting events coming to the Gladstone region

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Buderim man strips off for speed dating with a twist

RAW AMBITION: Buderim local Jackson pictured with his blind date Candice in a scene from SBS's new dating show Undressed.

People have done stranger things for love

Sports gods answer your summer prayers with this line-up

The Brisbane Roar are on track for an entertaining season.

SO MUCH live action is happening in Brisbane this summer!

Matthew McConaughey wrongly used as medical example

Doctor tried to steal credit for McConaughey's hair treatment

J.K. Rowling writes through severe back pain

An aching back couldn't stop J.K. Rowling catching inspiration

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

Gladstone market's confidence coming back for 2017

Core Logic property statistics reveal the region's median house price dropped 16.7% to $275,000 in the September quarter.

Region's median house price drops 16.7% to $275,000

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!