Five years on, the world’s biggest ironmaker is still building machines
FourFourSeconds ago, Ironbridge was one of the biggest ironmakers in the world.
The company was founded in 1775 and has now been run by a succession of executives.
But in the past five years, Iron Bridge has gone through a series of dramatic changes.
It has gone from being a major player in the global iron market to one of its biggest rivals.
Ironbridge has now gone from a giant of the global industry to one that is a mere shell of its former self.
In an exclusive interview with FourFour two years after the company was bought by US company KKR, Iain Stewart, its chairman and chief executive, explains how the company is trying to keep the lights on and what it needs to do to keep it going.
He also discusses how the future of the company looks.
“What we have achieved in the last five years is the best we have ever achieved.
It is the longest period of growth we have seen in our history.
It has been a long time coming but I am really pleased to be able to share our vision and our vision is to be a global company.””
We have achieved great things in the five years since we acquired KKR.
We have gone from just one of Australia’s leading iron producers to being one of our top five suppliers of steel, and now we are a leader in the sector in terms of total value produced by our workers.”
What Ironbridge has done over that period is set the bar high for the future.
Its chief executive is Iain, a former vice-president of the Australian Iron Workers’ Union (AITU) and a former ironworker himself.
He is one of two men in the company’s history to hold the top management roles.KKR bought Ironbridge in 2007 for $1.9 billion.
In its first year of operations, the company went from having about 400 workers on site to almost 5,000.
This meant that it was competing with the likes of Tata Steel, which employed nearly 9,000 workers.
Kerr’s move to buy the company made it the second largest ironmaker in the country, but it was a difficult sell.
In fact, it has been one of KKR’s biggest challenges.
Kerwin said the purchase of the group had put pressure on the company to increase its workforce to match demand, but in the process it was also pushing its supply chains to breaking point.
The acquisition of Ironbridge changed everything, he said.
“The way we have structured our business, the way we operate, the management structure we have created, it’s completely different.
The company has moved beyond the iron market into the steel market.””
It’s the only iron manufacturing company in the entire world to go from being the largest in the iron world to being the number one steel producer in the whole world.”
In the past, ironworkers had to travel to London and the US to get their steel.
Kera Kiely, the chief executive of the AITU, said the company had been able to grow its workforce by a factor of two every year since the acquisition.
“We think we have been successful in delivering the right amount of value to our workers in terms, in terms that we have kept them here, but also in terms to keep their wages low,” she said.
But despite the success of the move to become the number two steelmaker in Australia, KKR had to work with a small workforce of about 2,500 people.
“That’s why the job of the CEO is to manage a company that is not in a position where it can really invest in the workforce as a whole and keep that number of people here and in terms make sure that they are trained, so that they can deliver on what we’ve done and deliver the right outcomes,” Ms Kieley said.
She said the organisation wanted to see the company grow to more than 500,000 employees by 2020.
“Our expectation is that the company will be more than 2,000,000,” she added.
“I think we will be very, very happy if we can achieve that.”
The AITIU had asked KKR for a two-year extension of the contract, but the company refused, saying it was not the time to make any changes to the company.
“At the time of the acquisition, the majority of our workers were working for a company called Kera Kiesling in the United States.
“And we were there for a period of time, but we were not able to keep them here and we were able to deliver the job that we had in mind to them.””
The Australian Workers’ Federation, which is representing Ironbridge’s 1,000-plus ironworkers, says the company needs to keep its workforce here.””
And we were there for a period of time, but we were not able to keep them here and we were able to deliver the job that we had in mind to them.”
The Australian Workers’ Federation, which is representing Ironbridge’s 1,000-plus ironworkers, says the company needs to keep its workforce here.
“If we are to ensure that our iron