Kelly Elphinstone: Managing Director of a Global Manufacturing Company
Kelly grew up in North West Tasmania and, due to her strong work ethic, has evolved into a leader in a company with global reputation and local impact
Kelly Elphinstone began her career as soon as she was old enough to wash company cars on Saturday mornings. Her father Dale Elphinstone started the original business in 1975. Today, the Elphinstone Group employs over 2 500 people and achieves annual revenues of around $1.3 billion.
Elphinstone Pty Ltd, an Elphinstone Group company, has been designing and manufacturing equipment for the global mining industry for more than 40 years. Operating in North West Tasmania, the company relies upon the extensive supply chain and skilled local workforce for specialised design, engineering and manufacturing knowledge.
Kelly is the company’s Managing Director and a member of the Executive Management Committee for the Elphinstone Group. She is passionate about the significant role that Tasmania plays in the Australian manufacturing industry. The mother of two is active in promoting local skills and attracting investment to regional Tasmania, believing that primary industry is the lifeblood of any community.
“Many people think that nothing is manufactured in Australia anymore because it is too expensive, but that isn’t the case. Manufacturing is alive and well in Tasmania and we’re proud to continue supplying international markets from our Burnie base,” says Kelly.
“I was born in 1979 and as soon as I was old enough, I was at the family business washing cars,” smiles Kelly. “Washing company vehicles was a rite of passage for any employees’ young children who wanted to enter the business. It was an exceptional business to work for and the employees really were like our extended family, my brother and I had several sets of parents.”
“It’s been a tremendous journey. As I got older I’d work a couple of nights after school, on Saturdays, Sundays and during school holidays. Sometimes we’d finish at 1am or 2am. To this very day however, I love going to work.”
After finishing school, Kelly moved into the business full time. Then, after travelling and acquiring an Advanced Diploma in Business (Marketing) from RMIT in Melbourne, she returned to Tasmania.
Initially she worked with the family’s Caterpillar Dealership (William Adams Pty Ltd) as Advertising and Promotion Manager, CRM/Marketing Analyst and Business Improvement Manager. After the birth of her first daughter, Kelly worked for the Elphinstone Group’s Haulmax (Aust) Pty Ltd (now Elphinstone Pty Ltd) where she was Marketing Manager before becoming Managing Director in 2014, the role she still holds today.
Kelly has moved up the ranks from clerk and receptionist roles on many different occasions during her career with the various Elphinstone businesses, starting from scratch each time. Through this process however, she has gained valuable skills and knowledge. In 2000, she spent a year managing the administration side of a large maintenance and repair contract for William Adams at the Savage River mine on Tasmania’s West Coast.
“On day one of the new contract, we were in the pit at 5am in the freezing cold inspecting equipment,” says Kelly. “When we started, we worked from a small shipping container, which had been placed inside the workshop on site. We had one telephone line, which we had to unplug and transfer between phone, fax and email. I loved it – turning up to work in steel toe boots and seeing the large mining trucks drive past.”
“Today the Group is responsible for 10 operating businesses around the world with various levels of ownership, but what’s very special to me about Elphinstone Pty Ltd is that it represents where my father first started – manufacturing mining equipment. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working across the different businesses, but this one holds a lot of sentimental value,” explains Kelly.
Currently, the Elphinstone team is working on a multitude of products including surface and underground mining equipment, road rail excavators, and the new BulkMaster™ 7 Mobile Explosives Unit for Orica. “We have also been contracted to build 100 new buses for Metro Tasmania,” adds Kelly.
When Kelly isn’t in the office she’s relishing the Tasmanian way of life with her family. “I love travelling but this is the best place to live and raise a family. There are no waiting lists for the local schools or day care. There is no traffic and Melbourne is a 50 minute flight away. My father has always travelled the world from here, why wouldn’t we operate from Tasmania? Where else can you live on a farm and on the beach at the same time?”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.