The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia, extending from approximately 120 km to 310 km north of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast and is most known for its wineries and coal industry.
The most important economic activity in the valley is coal mining, primarily for export. In fact, the port at Newcastle is the world's largest export facility for coal, with annual exports exceeding A$15 billion and more than 2,200 ships berthed a year.
The Hunter Valley is also home to Schlam Payload Solutions east coast technical support manager, Grant Savell.
As a boilermaker by trade, Grant has been around dump bodies and mining buckets for most of his career.
"I started in the workshop before being transferred to a site service-type role. It was good, and I enjoyed working on the tools, but I also wanted to progress my career.
For Grant, this came in the form of a leading hand role, which gave him the best of both worlds. He was later promoted to project supervisor, looking after many complex builds involving multiple stakeholders.
The Hunter Valley native joined Schlam in October 2020 in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Melbourne was in lockdown at the time, and while the Hunter Valley was largely unaffected, interstate travel was out of the question. That meant that interviews and onboarding were all done remotely.
“This was challenging, but the whole Schlam team – both on the east and west coast were there to support me in my early days with the company," said Grant.
Grant recently had the opportunity to fly over to the company’s headquarters in Perth for Schlam Payload Solutions quarterly sales conference.
“Being hired over the phone and communicating via email and videoconference is fine, but there’s nothing quite like being able to meet someone face-to-face.
"I was quite surprised to see how big the company is and even more excited, to hear about our future growth plans. You can sometimes have your blinkers on – especially when you’re working remotely – where you only focus on just your area of the business. So, for me, it was a real eye-opener to take a step back and see what we’re doing across the company as a whole,” said Grant.
Despite only been with the company since late 2020, Grant has already earned his stripes and has been promoted to a technical support manager role where he provides expert aftersales advice to clients up and down the east coast of Australia.
While the onboarding process went smooth for Grant, he does admit that working remotely comes with its own unique set of challenges.
“You can ask the person sitting next to you when you’re sitting in the office if you get stuck on something. But, when you're working remotely, you can quickly get frustrated and feel a little out of the loop. That’s why I’ve found it so important to reach out and communicate with colleagues daily, even if I don’t share a physical office with them.
“I’ve also found that it's also vital to have a routine. I get up and proudly put on my uniform before I go to work, even if the office is in the next room,” said Grant with a chuckle.
The technical support manager credits Schlam’s engineering team for making his life easier.
"I've worked at companies within the same sector, but their engineering team pales in comparison to ours. They are our first port of call when a request comes through from a client, and more often than not, they have the answer back by the end of the day," said Grant.
Outside of the office, Grant – like many from New South Wales – is an avid Rugby League supporter who still plays the game locally.
"I've been playing since I was ten and still get on the field to play for my club, the Aberdeen Tigers as their centre,” said Grant.
Grant is a life member of the club after playing in the senior’s group for over ten years. He's also the junior vice president. In the NRL, Grant supports the Canterbury Bulldogs, even if "they're not doing all that well this year.”
In the off-season, Grant can often be found either exploring the coast, which is only an hour away or navigating his way through the bushland on the back of his motorbike while also enjoying the benefits of camping, boating and water skiing within the local Glenbawn freshwater dam.