Elders wins prestigious awards - Elders Rural Services
Elders cattle farm

Elders wins prestigious awards

Elders has won further accolades for its progress in business recovery and workplace health and safety by winning two national awards in the last few weeks.

The company took out this year’s ‘Large Business Turnaround of the Year’ award presented by the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) at its annual awards ceremony in Melbourne.

And in its second national award in a matter of weeks, Elders beat a stellar field of companies to be awarded the National Safety Council of Australia’s judges’ choice award for excellence in workplace health and safety.

Elders Chairman Hutch Ranck and Chief Executive Officer Mark Allison accepted the prestigious TMA award in recognition of Elders’ improved operations, cash flow and productivity increases which have led to the recovery of the rural conglomerate.

Elders’ turnaround has been so significant that the company reported its first full year profit in five years late last year, rebounding from a $500 million loss in the 2012 – 2013 year.

While the company has some way to go before reaching its full potential, Mr Allison paid tribute to the hard work and faith of Elders staff for the remarkable turnaround.

“This award is a testament to our people, as well as our customers and the banks which have supported us along the way, through thick and thin,” he said.

“Elders is becoming an increasingly attractive employer of choice as we continue to invest in our people and develop new talent as well as put more effort into key relationships with our clients and suppliers.

“While we are witnessing rapid change in the rural distribution sector, this award reinforces our commitment to being a successful Australian agribusiness.”

The TMA is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to corporate renewal and turnaround management.

Mr Allison said winning the judges’ choice award for the company’s Stand Up Speak Up health and safety campaign in 2015 was particularly rewarding, after Elders recorded 14 serious workplace injuries in 2014.

“While Elders is still a long way from an injury-free workplace, it is great to be recognised for our progress in creating industry-leading tools and developing a safety-based culture.”

Mr Allison pointed to the challenges of improving the health and safety culture of Elders when most of its 2,000 employees work in rural and remote locations in Australia, Indonesia and China.

“Add 900 vehicles, the unpredictable behaviour of livestock, thousands of different chemicals and a typically tough and resilient workforce who weren’t used to talking  about health issues, and it gives some insight into the difficulties we faced as an executive team,” he said.

“We knew that traditional safety messages weren’t going to be effective, and in fact, the key to the success of the Stand Up Speak Up campaign launched in January 2015 was recognising that Elders employees were the company’s best health and safety advocates.”

Elders employees and their personal stories on health and safety themes take the spotlight in the engaging campaign which includes different videos every month, an online toolbox with resources, questions and activities for work teams, as well as monthly safety awards, a CEO blog, text messaging and other tactics.

“These are real stories about the effects of workplace injuries and health issues on our people and their families, standing up and speaking out about serious incidents which have impacted their lives,” Mr Allison said.

“These broke down the tough stereotype within the business and encouraged others to start talking.”

While congratulating all Elders employees on winning the National Safety Council’s award, he paid tribute to the company’s internal safety and communications teams, who together have been instrumental in developing and driving the Stand Up Speak Up campaign.

“To be recognised by the National Safety Council of Australia for delivering an innovative campaign that is developing our safety culture and keeping our people safe against the likes of IBM, Kimberley Clark and Woolworths is the icing on the cake.”