Vital Chemical supplies multinational companies in construction and mining.
Vital Chemical supplies multinational companies in construction and mining.

Company reaping rewards, hiring in huge infrastructure push

AN IPSWICH manufacturing company supplying chemicals to some of Australia’s biggest multinationals is reaping the rewards as the country turns to infrastructure projects to kickstart the economy post COVID-19.

Vital Chemical directors Letiscia Xavier and Paul McMullen joined the Ipswich company in 2004 and 2005 respectively and have been a key part as its grown from a small family business.

Vital employs 40 people out of its Goodna factory and office in the nearby Goodna Technology Park.

They are in the position to be able to bring on new staff, which Mr McMullen admitted was “unusual” in the current economic climate.

The business started manufacturing soap in Darra in 1977.

It was moved to Goodna in 2004 and Ms Xavier said there has been a growing demand from the construction industry over the past 10 years for chemicals that were better for the environment.

Vital Chemical supplies multinational companies in construction and mining.
Vital Chemical supplies multinational companies in construction and mining.

“The main thing we changed was the type of chemicals we manufacture,” Mr McMullen said.

“We knew that we needed to make a shift away from the nastier type chemicals.

“Most of the companies we supply are tier one construction companies … and Rio Tino and BMA in the mining community.

“Significant projects for us have been the new Brisbane Airport runway, Snowy 2.0, WestConnex and NorthConnex in Sydney.”

The company manufactures between five million and 10 million litres of chemicals a year.

Their products are currently being used in the CR2SM upgrade of the Bruce Highway on the Sunshine Coast and business has certainly picked up during the pandemic as more projects are pushed through.

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“With COVID there’s been a number of projects pushed through quickly to stimulate the economy,” Mr McMullen said.

“It is important that there are products like ours that assist in preventing erosion, and also water treatment.

“We do a lot of revegetation work so wherever there is mass construction, after the construction is complete, we come in and basically fix it so things grow.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate in that space and business has increased due to the announcement of these projects and the rapid approval process that has occurred.

“We have benefited from that. I guess the uncertainty is what’s that going to look like in 12 or 24 months.

“We’re optimistic about the future but also we’re taking a bit of a conservative approach as well.”

Vital Chemical directors Letiscia Xavier and Paul McMullen.
Vital Chemical directors Letiscia Xavier and Paul McMullen.

Ms Xavier, a scientist by trade, said the company was proud of its roots but it was a “totally different” business to what it was when she came on board.

Much in the space they work in has changed too.

“All of our products are formulated with safety of the end user and safety to the environment first,” she said.

“There has been a huge environmental focus and growth socially over the last 15 to 20 years and the focus on the Great Barrier Reef and sediment into waterways … have been paramount with governments.

“The policing of industries to control that has increased the demand for chemicals like ours that can minimise the erosion of soil and sediments into waterways.”

Ms Xavier said the future was looking bright for a “local success story” which mostly hires people from Ipswich.

“As long as the economy is growing in the spaces we’re operating in, with all the construction jobs and federal and state funding of those jobs, absolutely we will be looking at more hiring,” she said.

“We’re prepared for this century. Particularly this new decade. We’re looking forward to moving into 2021 and hopefully just maintaining and growing our business for our staff and our community.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.