Sweet years pays off for Mackay Sugar's new top boss
MACKAY Sugar has announced outgoing chief executive officer Quinton Hildebrand will be replaced by Jason Lowry.
Mr Lowry moved to Mackay from the United States three years ago to work in the Mackay Sugar management team.
Mr Lowry, a chemical engineer turned manager, has a long history of working with sweeteners.
"Out of college I worked for Cargill, which is a large multi-national company, and I worked in their high-fructose corn syrup, ethanol and other bio-refinery type products," he said.
"That was a good basis in the sweetener industry. I did that for about six years. For the following 10 years I worked in the American sugar industry, I worked for the American Crystal Sugar Company."
In that position Mr Lowry received a call offering work in Mackay.
"At first I didn't know where it was, but after looking it up and learning a bit about it, it was very interesting, and it was close in industry, and it looked like it would have a potential upside, meaning I could be promoted," he said.
"I have a wife and three kids. We want to stay firmly entrenched here, we love it."
Mr Lowry said Mackay Sugar had put together a five-year strategic plan designed to target problems impacting sugar farming.
"That plan is designed to address our biggest issues in the company, which would be milling performance, and crop size," he said.
"What we've identified there is that 50% of our improvement needs to come through people, and 50% needs to come through the assets."
Mr Lowry said he would also be focusing on operator training, as in recent years the mining industry had poached much of the company's operating talent.
"We are putting in a training program, we're enhancing that training program, we're going to allow more time for the training up-front, and then we're giving the operators the tools that they need to understand exactly what they need to be on top of and control it," he said.
Communication with growers was also on Mr Lowry's agenda, which he said he planned to improve by promoting the shed meetings.