Industry News

Graham Smith: Five decades of tireless service in the Apple Isle

An IQA Honorary Fellow is a member who has been formally recognised as making a significant contribution to the Institute or the industry, or holding a long time position in the Institute or the industry. It is considered the IQA’s highest award.

For Graham Riley Smith, receiving the IQA’s highest honour at the recent annual conference in Toowoomba “was definitely dropped on me. I certainly wasn’t expecting that”.

“I’m very flattered,” he added. “I’m very humbled, really, that I’ve been ranked amongst some of the best fellows in the industry.”

For his peers in Tasmania and across the mainland, the honour bestowed on Graham would not have astonished them at all. Graham has been involved in the supply side of the quarrying industry for nearly 50 years and he has been a continuous financial member of the Institute for nearly 40 years. This time period includes nearly two decades in a range of capacities for the IQA’s Tasmanian branch.

Graham was born in the UK and did national service as a member of the Royal Air Force before migrating to Tasmania in 1963. “My first job was in the motor vehicle industry,” he recalled. “I started off selling trucks to hydro, mining and quarrying companies and that’s how my involvement in the industry developed over the years.”

After completing a Diploma of Management at Hobart Technical College (1964-69), he began his career in the extractive industry as an earthmoving equipment representative for AMS Pty Ltd in Hobart (1968-70) and later as an operations supervisor for plant hire, transport, earthmoving and quarrying for Hazell Bros in Kingston (1974-79).

In 1979, Graham became a technical representative for mining and quarrying machinery for Bryce-Watson Pty Ltd in Hobart. This association would last until 1999 and included a short stint as the manager of Johnson Screens’ Tasmanian division. As he was supplying plant, equipment and parts to the extractive industry, Graham’s boss at the time thought it would be “useful” for him to join the then Australian division of the Institute of Quarrying and build networks with the quarry operators.

“It was for networking, really, but then of course, in getting to know people and socialising with them as well as doing business with them, in a small place like Tasmania, I’ve made a lot of friends over the years,” Graham reflected.

Across the generations

In 1999, Graham and his wife Anne started their own business in Raygill Quarry & Mining Supplies and today he continues to operate the business out of his home, car and a post office box in Lindisfarne, Hobart, and is often on the road visiting quarries across the Apple Isle.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-I:2-Q:"The key to running a successful IQA conference was to keep “your committee as small as possible” and to “make sure that our wives were involved,"-WHO:Graham Riley Smith, an IQA Honorary Fellow}}Intriguingly, while Graham professes to having no quarrying experience prior to first working in Tasmania, the name of his business derives from forebears that were proficient in the extractive industry. “Once we started our business, my cousin who was heavily into ancestry discovered that our ancestors had been quarrymen in the Yorkshire valleys in the 16th century. So that’s where the name Raygill comes from — it’s a quarry in northwest Yorkshire.”

As a proprietor of Raygill Quarry & Mining Supplies, Graham acts as a “manufacturer’s agent”, ordering and organising the supply of parts, components, plant and equipment – be that crushers, screens, conveyors, dust handling machinery or parts for mobile and fixed plant – to quarry producers throughout Tasmania.

“Tasmania’s one of those market places where the quarry operators prefer to deal locally,” Graham remarked. “A lot of mainland operators will tell you that they go up against brick walls when it comes to ordering parts and machinery direct. Tasmania’s a very personal place, from that point of view.”

It’s that local and personal touch, so to speak, that has enabled Graham to build a rapport with in some instances up to three generations of the same family businesses – ie parents, their children and grandchildren. He said the key to maintaining such strong relationships was being “myself” and being “honest” in business dealings.

“I try to never do anything that would prevent me from going back again,” Graham said. “The kids have seen me as they’ve grown up and I’ve treated them as equals and always shown a keen interest in them. It’s something I’m quite proud of because I’m dealing with the same families and local mindsets.”

Certainly, Stephen Duggan, the managing director of family business Duggans in the Huon Valley, had no hesitation in endorsing Graham’s nomination for the Honorary Fellowship.

“Duggans has had a long and enjoyable business relationship with Graham stemming back to the 1970s,” Duggan wrote in a testimonial. “During this time Graham has provided his knowledge and advice in a truly professional manner. He has provided a service to our quarrying division and to generations of management at Duggans. Graham has been and continues to be instrumental as a supplier to the industry.”

Voluntary service

Graham’s involvement with initially the Australian division of the Institute of Quarrying and latterly the IQA is, as stated above, prolific. A continuous financial member since October 1979 (when he entered at the grade of associate), Graham became involved in the Institute at both the local and national levels. He was secretary of the Tasmanian branch from 1988 to 1996 and was elevated to branch chairman from 1996 to 2002. In October 2009, Graham was upgraded to a Fellow of the Institute.

From 1988 to 2002, Graham was also a Tasmanian council representative and he was heavily involved in organising the IQA’s national conference, first as the secretary for the 1990 conference in Hobart, then as chairman for the 1998 conference in Launceston.

“The only connection I had with the national council was in the early days,” Graham qualified. “It had quarterly meetings and the local state chairman and secretaries used to be invited. That all changed when we became incorporated in later years. Of course, I’ve made some great friends there too.”

{{image3-a:r-w:300}}So what motivated Graham to become a volunteer and effectively do years of unpaid work for the IQA? “It was a bit of an arm twister,” he recalled. “I’d known the then branch chairman since he’d been a ticket writer on the weighbridge and he was now a state manager and he said to me, ‘I’ll run the 1990 conference if you would be secretary’, and I said, ‘OK, yes, I’ll volunteer’. In those days it was secretary and treasurer with one book — money at the front, minutes at the back. So I was secretary/treasurer for eight years and then the chance came to run the 1998 conference and I was invited to be chairman.”

Graham would later assist conference chairman John Stanton as a committee member for the 2007 meeting in Hobart.

Graham said the key to running a successful IQA conference was to keep “your committee as small as possible” and to “make sure that our wives were involved because if they were going to entertain visiting wives, then they’d need to know each other first. We started a regular social meet-up every year, and that’s what got the sons and grandsons involved because they’d come away on holiday/technical weekends with us”.

The technical weekend remains to this day a popular activity in the Tasmanian branch’s annual fixture, with the most recent affair being run at the Pedder Wilderness Lodge, on the Gordon River in the state’s southwest, in early December.

“It’s got to the stage where people from the mainland asked to join in on those weekends because we have such interesting trips,” Graham said. “We look at our history, the history of mines, the history of geology, but we also have a nice social get together.”

Greater than the giving

As a veteran of the Institute and the industry, and approaching the age of 80 in the next year, Graham Smith isn’t quite ready, as he puts it, to “pull the pin” on an illustrious career.

“People ask when I’m going to retire but I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing. I’ve worked with a lovely bunch of people – both the suppliers and the customers,” he said. “I’m in good health and I’ve established now that I don’t have to chase a lot of things, but I like to regularly keep in touch with people, and they enjoy that, we do a lot of gasbagging as well. People are still giving me business and I’m enjoying that I’m helping them.

“In my spare time, I have a nice little workshop where I do a little woodwork and that’s very satisfying, and a bit of gardening and keeping an eye out on Anne’s health, to make sure it’s as good as mine,” he added.

As a volunteer for the Institute for nearly two decades, Graham encourages other up-and-comers in the IQA today to also volunteer in their local branches.

“I think if you’re going to join any organisation, put in because you’ll get back more than you ever thought,” he advised. “It’s like all associations, such as the Rotary alliance and all the service clubs; whether they’re social or otherwise, if you’re going to do it, take part in it. The rewards are greater than the giving. It makes the membership more enjoyable. It’s the reward of doing a job with like-minded people. I think that’s the nutshell of it.

“If you’re going to be in it – do it. It’s no good being a passenger, at some point you’ll have to get off and push the bus.”

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