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It was a breezy day on the rooftop of 1 Malop Street, but Geelong Roofing’s Matt Foss, Dale Tennant, Peter Geels and Paul Coles are used to braving the elements on the top of the new WorkSafe building, which is already the tallest on Geelong’s skyline. Kate Stephenson discusses the dizzy heights of pioneering OHS and retaining reputation with Geelong’s roofing royality. How it all began Geelong Roofing Pty Ltd began with tiling and metal roofing for residential projects, but quickly grew to more commercial projects. ‘We started off small,’ says original co-Director Peter Geels, ‘That changed very quickly when we won some fairly major projects. We always looked at Geelong Roofing from a long term business point of view. We wanted to make sure we paid all our bills on time and gave the client quality service. We soon realised that employing the best personnel available, paying them well and having them directly on our payroll and not bringing in external subcontractors helped to achieve our goal.’ ‘We’d seen the history of small subcontracting companies and roofing companies in Geelong that hadn’t been a success, and knew we wanted to foster a culture of a company that was in it for the long haul. The key to success is to make sure you pay your suppliers and your workers well and on time. If there was a bit left over from a job we’d make sure we kept it for a rainy day. Our mantra has always been to respect the people you are working with; respect workers, respect your suppliers and respect everyone in between. It stood us in good stead in days gone by, and is still relevant today.’

Longevity like this takes a level of determination and professionalism that only a handful of companies are capable of sustaining. Geelong Roofing was run by Peter Geels and Dale Anderson. Peter was a lynchpin of the business. ‘We’ve been going for over 35 years,’ he says proudly. Some companies who do that have to change their names or rebrand. We’ve been Geelong Roofing Pty Ltd from the very beginning and our reputation has carried us.’ The first jobs Geelong Roofing did were certainly from a time when greater Geelong looked very different to how it does now. Deakin University’s fledgling Waurn Ponds campus, The ‘Cracker’ for Shell, The Capital netball centre and Bay City Plaza were among the impressive portfolio to date. ‘We are still in contact with some companies who were around at the very beginning,’ says Paul. There are a number of builders we have worked with for over three decades. A lot of the companies we worked for in Geelong at the start aren’t there anymore, but many others have taken their place. Geelong Roofing have played a pivotal role in the evolution of roofing plumbing over the years. They have worked on key Geelong buildings including the Victorian Producers Cooperation, Simonds Stadium, and even Little Creatures Brewery. Over the years, they have seen the practice of roofing plumbing evolve and change in more ways than one.

Taking a new direction Matt Foss and Dale Tennant joined Peter Geels and Dale Anderson as Directors of the company several years ago. The new directors have been working together to incorporate new technologies and practices to take the business into the future, evolving and improving with the changing times. ‘I was supposed to be at university full time,’ laughs Matt, ‘But I was on the job working with these guys. It was only supposed to be part time work where I could gain some experience in the industry. I have always had a huge appetite for learning and Peter and Dale invested a lot of time in developing my knowledge and skills, encouraging and supporting me to take on more and more responsibility. Many of my peers went on to work for Tier 1 construction companies (which is where I originally saw myself heading), however the opportunity they gave me here was just too good to pass up. I really like working for the company and enjoy the challenges we face on a daily basis. What we do is really interesting. As well as the new challenges every day, it’s the camaraderie and culture of the company that keeps me going.’ Dale echoes this sentiment. ‘Having employers that were willing to put back into training and are supportive of your ambition to do so is another reason we gel.’

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Australian Magazine December 2017  

For over 25 years, Australian Plumbing has been the industry’s leading publication, delivering independent coverage of news and events.

Australian Magazine December 2017  

For over 25 years, Australian Plumbing has been the industry’s leading publication, delivering independent coverage of news and events.