The Official Grand Opening of Southern Steel QLD’s Townsville Branch

Southern Queensland Steel’s Townsville new, state-of-the-art processing and distribution hub, servicing Northern Queensland

Southern’s footprint in the Sunshine State started back in 1999 when the Smallers established Southern Steel QLD in Wacol. Southern soon realised the one site in Wacol could not service the 1,727,000 square kilometres that makes up Queensland.

As Australia’s second largest state – nearly five times the size of Japan, seven times the size of Great Britain, and two and a half times the size of Texas – and home to more than 4 million people, with more than half of Queensland’s population living outside the greater metropolitan area of Brisbane, it was time to grow Southern’s reach and provide local support to far reaching cities.

Tour of new Southern Queensland Steel Townsville warehouse

Southern set about opening branches along the east coast with Toowoomba and Mackay in 2010, Townsville in 2015 and Cairns in 2021. Southern Steel QLD Townsville’s original home was on Ingham Road. Under the guidance of Dick Thornton, Southern Steel QLD’s General Manager of 10 years, and the leadership of long-serving Branch Manager Shannon Jordan, the business outgrew their facilities and it was decided a purpose-built, multi-purpose facility was needed.

The new site, located at Industrial Ave, Bohle, opened its doors in March 2023. The site was purchased from Mel Yelaska owner of CSF and the shed was constructed by Director Sean Adams and his team at CSF, both present at the opening.

Kevin Smaller followed by Matthew Kelly, St George Bank

It features more than 6,000m2 of expansive warehouse and office space and includes a new beam line and laser machine which offer processing support locally. As Dick stated during his speech on the day “we put a lot of stock on the ground as you can see, and are now able to offer much better service than having to wait for material to come out of Brisbane”.

The inauguration of Townsville’s new processing and distribution hub was attended by all 19 of the Townsville employees, the Smaller family – Peter, Elaine, Kevin and Joanne Smaller – and the Southern Steel group executive team including Managing Director Sam Mounem and Chief Operating Officer Dick Thornton. Guests in attendance were given a tour of the warehouse, the processing equipment and steel stocks.

Dick Thornton, COO, Southern Steel Group

Kevin Smaller opened the formalities by welcoming dignitaries Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill, Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino and the other ‘unofficial’ mayor of Townsville, rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston. He thanked those in attendance who ‘travelled from as close as down the road to as far away as Sydney” as well as “our local management, Dick, Brendan, and particularly Shannon for all of the blood sweat and tears to get us to this point”. After giving a brief history of Southern Steel Group, Kevin introduced Dick Thornton who stepped up to the podium and talked at length about Southern Steel QLD’s branches in Mackay, Toowoomba and Cairns, and mentioned Southern’s intent in having the Townsville branch “act as the mother ship for North Queensland, supporting Mackay through to Cairns and west to Mt Isa”.

Johnathon Thurston with Dick Thornton, COO, and Sam Mounem, MD of Southern Steel Group

Next to the platform was former professional rugby league footballer Johnathan Thurston. A passionate Queenslander, Johnathan calls Townsville home. He spoke of the similarity between himself and Southern Steel QLD as both share the same drive to succeed and are working towards promoting local work and local jobs. Johnathan congratulated Southern Steel QLD “in seeing Townsville as the future” and concluded by stating “that Townsville is the true capital of Northern Australia”.

Johnathan Thurston, Sam Mounem, Dick Thornton, Peter Smaller, Shannon Jordan, Mayor Jenny Hill, Brendan Keates, Kevin Smaller

CR Mayor Jenny started her opening address by thanking the Smaller family for investing in, and growing, Townsville. She congratulated them for having the courage in establishing this new hub as it “gives faith to people in the North that things are happening and things are moving”.

The Mayor spoke passionately about her connection to steel as her father was a boiler maker until the day he retired. Her memories of going through the workshop with her father and seeing “the things they built” made her realise that “it is important if we are going to build a nation, we need companies like this investing in the North”.

With big growth expected in Townsville over the next decade and “big projects in the pipeline” Mayor Jenny Hill concluded her speech by agreeing with Johnathan Thurston that Townsville is a great place to be.

After the speeches, Peter Smaller and Mayor Hill unveiled the plaque and declared the Townsville facility officially open.

In the words of Dick Thornton “we now have a good presence across North Queensland and we look forward, to supporting customers locally moving forward”.