By Cam Lucadou-Wells
No one could describe Hallam electrical contractor Powerplant Project Services’ latest coup as a shock.
But the stunning appointment of the august former AusNet national services manager John Kelso as Powerplant’s first-ever chief executive points to the company’s surging success.
Mr Kelso, with 38 years in the utility sector, said he was attracted to Powerplant by its culture and the fact that it was “going somewhere”.
Powerplant is in the early stages of “asset relocation and lighting design” for the Thompsons Road upgrade – having also won the contract to design lighting for the M1 widening project.
After the project, the company would have designed lighting for the freeway between Pakenham and Tullamarine – excepting the city tunnels.
Other projects include street lighting and asset relocation for the Mernda rail extension and highway upgrade in Traralgon, as well as new residential estates and suburbs across the state.
Powerplant’s staff has grown sixfold to more than 50 in the past five years. Last year, it added more than 600 projects.
Mr Kelso said Powerplant was part of a growth area – providing infrastructure and services for utilities – at a time when utilities were downsizing and outsourcing.
“It’s an exciting time to come to the business,” Mr Kelso said.
“We’re looking also at how to bring in new local talent, such as through traineeships, as a way of regenerating and building up new skills.
“Success is driven by having the right people and having the right culture.”
Mr Kelso pointed to renewable solutions as a possible new frontier.
“Where I came from (in the utilities sector), they were doing quite a bit in trialling the renewables space.
“We’re working hard to take these new technologies and to add those to the intelligent infrastructure solutions we give our clients.”
Director Greg Plant used to work for Mr Kelso 25 years ago.
He said the new chief executive shared the company’s enthusiasm for grabbing new opportunities, and brought extensive leadership, credibility and detailed knowledge.
“We’re looking to develop the business to best serve those infrastructure needs in this (south-east Melbourne) region and across the state.
“We’re also considering new opportunities interstate.
“But despite this fantastic growth, we don’t lose sight of what’s important to people in this area.”