Bowmans Intermodal hub

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By Kate Foreman

Hay exporter Balco Australia has diversified its business by having a vision to create a land transport hub to support other regional industries.

Founded in Balaklava in 1990 – by a machinery salesman, a livestock salesman, a primary school headmaster and a farmer – Balco Australia is now one of the country’s leading hay processors and exporters.

And with the introduction of transport hub Bowmans Intermodal, the company is a major employer in the Balaklava and surrounding communities, as well as providing an efficient transport corridor for regional producers.

“You need to have a vision of what you want your community to look like, for your community, state and country,” co-founding director Malcolm May told the 2016 Regional Summit in Mount Gambier.

“You need to empower your family, community, staff and suppliers, you need to mix with positive people, you need to believe in what you are doing and never give up.

“I was 40 (when we started), so it shows that your never too old to start another business.

“One of our biggest drivers was that our town was dying… and we were worried about the community and about jobs.”

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Loading containers direct to rail freight at Bowmans Intermodal

Through the development of long-term relationships with growers in South Australia and Western Australia, Balco Australia is passionate about product innovation and progress in the hay industry.

“This year we turned over $100 million dollars, $80 million is hay and $20 million through our rail,” Malcolm says.

“We now have three hay plants, two in South Australia and one in WA, and this year we will do 175,000 tonne.

“Our five year plan is for us to do 250,000 tonne and I think that is being a little bit conservative.”

With hay exports going to China, Indonesia and Vietnam, and other markets opening up to Balco, it’s now concentrating on developing the Bowmans Intermodal transport hub, which provides a direct rail link from the Balco production site located at Bowman’s (just outside of Balaklava) to the state’s primary international shipping terminus’ at Port Adelaide and Port Pirie.

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Overview of Balco Australia site at Bowmans

The company has recently received a government grant to assist the expansion of the 40 thousand square metres of rail loop and terminal.

“We are very interested in ‘milk runs’ through the regions and that is going to be critical for us,” Malcolm adds.

“We are also looking into national short haul runs, Bowmans could be a serious intermodal hub for the State.”

Watch Malcolm May speak at the 2016 Regional Summit

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