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New Moree business making headway on roadways

ESTABLISHING a regional business in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history is not an undertaking for the faint-hearted.

But Moree old boy David Bella is doing just that.

Gwydir Asphalt, a home-grown company specialising in asphalt manufacturing and paving, has been under construction for the past 12 months and is now ready for full production.

The newly-built plant at the southern end of James Street in east Moree was the brainchild of the late Brett Schoupp, who was tragically killed in a gyrocopter accident late last year.

He and business partners David Bella, who grew up in Moree, and Newcastle-based Ian Rich, who’s been in the road-paving game for more than 30 years, formed Gwydir Asphalt more than 12 months ago.

“Brett was one of the original investors, and was the man-on-the-scene from day one,” Mr Bella said.

“He was going to run the plant and generate all the local business. Brett had a vision and thought something like this was the ideal business for Moree, and rightly so.

“A feasibility study was undertaken and geographically this type of plant sits very well between Toowoomba and Tamworth – it is right in the middle,” he said.

Aerial shot of Moree’s newest business, Gwydir Asphalt (Image Supplied).

“There are a couple of companies from those two cities that supply this whole area and with Moree being right in the middle makes a business like Gwydir Asphalt achievable.”

Mr Bella and Mr Schoupp were old school mates who carried their friendship into their working lives.

They spent several weeks abroad inspecting and loading early construction models for Gwydir Asphalt.

The company will supply asphalt for major roadworks as well as smaller jobs across north-western New South Wales.

“We’ve only just completed commissioning and we’re now ready to fire up and start producing,” Mr Bella said.

“Once fully established, we will supply all products for road surfaces and repairs, property and farm driveways, car parks and footpaths.

“Besides the hot-mix, there is also cold-mix for roadway and pothole repair work.”

Gwydir Asphalt will also use Moree goods and services whenever possible.

“We will use local businesses for the supply of materials as well as local contractors for transport – money spent in Moree will stay in Moree,” Mr Bella said.

The company plans to spread its network across the north and north-west.

“We hope to go as far out west as Walgett, north to Goondiwindi, across to Inverell and south to Narrabri and further – about a 200 kilometre radius of Moree,” Mr Bella said.

“The benefit of having something like this in Moree is the cost savings – especially freight.

“At the moment it needs to be freighted about three hours to Moree so that cost will be all but eliminated – that three hours’ freight time equates to a lot of dollars,” he said.

Once fully operational, Gwydir Asphalt will employ more local people as well as paving crews.

Plant operator Adam Annis-Brown (at front) and business part-owner David Bella on-site at Gwydir Asphalt (Image Copyright Bill Poulos).

“Ian Rich, the other partner in the business, will bring his paving machinery to Moree and we’ll start that arm of the business as well,” Mr Bella said.

Asphalt plant operator Adam Annis-Brown explained how the hot-mix process worked.

“Aggregate, sand and crusher-dust go up conveyor belts from the back of the plant in to a drying drum, which has a burner that heats up the material,” Mr Annis-Brown said.

“That then goes into the hot elevator to the top where it is screened into separate materials. It then goes through the plant for weighing and mixing in correct amounts and proportions.

“The bitumen and filler is added and it’s poured into the truck ready to go on-site,” he said.

Mr Bella said getting the product to the job site at an optimum temperature ensured a top quality end-product.

“By the time the bitumen and asphalt come together we try to get them to about 165 degrees and it is then loaded onto the truck and taken to the job site,” he said.

“Once on-site it goes into paving machines, which can be anywhere from three to six metres wide, depending on the size of the job.

“The cold-mix we will manufacture is basically for all repair work like roadsides and potholes,” Mr Bella said.

“However, the trucks have oil-based heating so when the product is transported it is actually being heated up to about 45 or 50 degrees and this makes it easier to rake and lay once it’s warm.”

Like all businesses across the drought-stricken north-west, good rainfalls are crucial to the success of Gwydir Asphalt.

“Plenty of rain will generate road-repair work,” Mr Bella said.

“We’re definitely due for good rain, and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

“There has been no private work as yet because the drought has affected a lot of people,” he said.

“But we can’t pick the weather. Hopefully it will turn around and we get plenty of water to fill the dams – and plenty of water to damage the roads so we can fix them,” he smiled.

Click this link to view a short video on Moree’s newest business:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m__xz-C09_IzhcCbrUFgbU7iSJGaNlIk/view

Words and Image Copyright Bill Poulos

Need to know more?

Call David Bella on 0414 486428 or email [email protected]