Simple steps will pave the way for Mackay Sugar CEO

A FOCUS on the simple things in the sugar milling business is what Mackay Sugar cane growers expect from the company's new chief executive officer.

Quinton Hildebrand, CEO for the past seven years, announced his resignation on Monday, and Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri said his marketing and strategy focus had left Mackay Sugar well-positioned for the future.

"He was CEO over a period of enormous change and challenge for the industry," Mr Schembri said.

"He was at the helm during a period of weather issues, crop disease and ownership disputes within the industry and his contribution has been important."

With tricky times ahead, Mr Schembri hopes Mr Hildebrand's replacement will come in with a focus on getting "the basics right".

"The new CEO will need to focus on getting the basics right, making sure the mills are crushing well. It's just a focus we need to have in these difficult times," he said.

With a smaller than usual cane crop forecast, retired cane grower and former Mackay Sugar chairman of directors Eddie Westcott shares Mr Schembri's vision and hopes mill operations and maintenance will be a priority.

"I think all CEOs have a different focus," Mr Westcott said.

"With a small crop coming up operations and maintenance (of the mills) are going to be critical, so I hope (with the new CEO) focus will move back on operations.

"I do think we are set up well for marketing and cogen (cogeneration, a renewable energy plant run on fibre left over from milling sugarcane) will hopefully make a profit."

The prospect of a new leader at the helm had fellow cane grower Noel Durnsford optimistic about the company's direction.

"All we can hope for is to get milling machinery fixed and to crush (sugarcane crops) in time (before it rains) and to get every dollar we can for it," he said.

"We've got to get back to the core business and that's crushing cane."

 

Incoming CEO will have big shoes to fill

QUINTON Hildebrand's' shoes would be difficult ones to fill, Mackay Sugar chairman Andrew Cappello said.

Mr Hildebrand announced his resignation as the company's CEO on Monday.

"I hope the new CEO brings all the qualities that Quinton did," Mr Cappello said.

"It's an extremely demanding job with a lot of pressure, but he had a number of achievements."

Mr Hildebrand led the company through the development of cogeneration, which produces renewable energy using sugarcane fibre.

"Cogen was a huge coup," Mr Cappello said. "(So was) establishing a new marketing company, QCS (Queensland Commodity Services), a subsidiary of Mackay Sugar."

The board was developing the skill set required for the new CEO, Mr Cappello said, and Mr Hildebrand would stay to see the company through the transitional period.

 


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