Haven’t read part 1? Catch up here.
It all begins in Kalgoorlie…
Here’s one of those success stories that so often begin in Kalgoorlie. This one involves a quiet, modest, achiever called Stan Perron, whose Goldfields roots go back to his early youth at Boulder Central School.
In 1958, only weeks before the Perseverance subsidence, Stan had used the proceeds of the sale of his ilmenite mining venture to purchase a Euclid Twin Power Scraper. This piece of equipment had a 250 HP engine front and rear which could self-load 40 tons of dirt and carry it at 30 miles per hour with a single operator. He purchased the Euclid, contrary to the beliefs of others in WA that it could not be employed successfully, and his foresight paid immense dividends. Stan recalls: “It was something I had been admiring for some time. I didn’t have anything for it to do when it arrived, and everybody thought I was making a big mistake in buying it.”
Within two weeks of its delivery, the Perseverance cave-in occurred, and Jim Langford from Western Mining Corporation contacted Stan to see if he could render any help. Within 24 hours the massive machine was on site. It was the largest and most powerful scraper in the world at that time and was immediately put to work, loading 100,000 tons of material from the nearby slime dump and transporting it about a mile to fill in the mine. The whole operation took just ten days and news of this achievement spread far and wide, including a feature article in Time magazine. I can still remember the thrill of watching that monster operate, when I went out to deliver bearings and other items for Stan’s support vehicles.
And the earth moved
Stan’s more recent comment was:
“In those days, to even move 2000 tons in a day was a major operation. It involved cumbersome excavators loading a fleet of trucks and then a bulldozer to spread it around at the other end. All this would cost about five shillings a ton. With our machine we moved 10,000 tons a day with one operator at a cost of one shilling and six pence per ton”.
This overgrown ‘toy’ brought in plenty of business after the Kalgoorlie achievement. The success that followed opened up fields of work and contracts which enabled rapid expansion, and within two years Stan owned a further four machines. The fleet of five Euclid Twin Power Scrapers, was a pacesetter and carried Perron Brothers’ name to the fore in earthmoving. They were sent to work on dozens of operations both private and governmental, eventually giving Perron Brothers a virtual monopoly in WA for this type of earthmoving.
During 1960 and 1961, Stan travelled to the USA and other parts of the globe, observing modem trends in earthmoving, each time returning home to add further know-how to his existing company operations or acquiring more modem equipment. These improvements created further expansion and wider activities for Perron Brothers. During this period, a contract of which the company was particularly proud, was the earthworks for the 1962 Empire Games Stadium in Perth. To appreciate the size of this job one has to envisage constructing an enormous stadium; all from sand and in six weeks.
1960s mining boom
By the early 1960s, WA was moving through a mining boom, placing massive demands on Stan’s earthmoving business. Realizing that this potential made the business an attractive proposition, he decided to approach Thiess Bros with a proposal to take-over his total earthmoving operations. Thiess Brothers were well established in the Eastern States, but had yet to extend to this side of the continent. In May 1961, after some negotiations, he sold the entire business for the equivalent of £765,000 in cash and shares. At that time the equipment fleet included 8 motor scrapers, 15 heavy bulldozers, 10 graders and 3 transport loaders.
Stan remained as State Manager of Thiess for two years before launching himself into further equally exciting challenges, among them being the establishment of the Toyota Distribution in Western Australia, with which he is still involved, together with becoming one of Australia’s largest and most successful property developers. The Hyatt Hotel in Perth is one example of the properties developed and owned by Stan Perron.
A small side story to finish on, is the little-known fact that Hancock and Wright have a third partner in the Pilbara Iron Ore deposits that have done so much for Australia. Their third partner is Stan Perron who on March 15, 1959 was asked by Lang Hancock and Peter Wright for £1,000 to match their contribution, to fuel Lang’s Auster aircraft and for pegging costs. This would enable them to go north and peg some iron ore deposits in areas Lang knew of. They were to be equal one-third partners. They felt that the State Government having just changed from Labor to Liberal, might release the land to private enterprise. Prior to that it had been under strict Government control.
Doing business with Lang Hancock
Stan tells the story:
“The following Saturday morning, Peter Wright came to my office to collect the £1,000. But overnight, I had gone a bit cold on the idea and compromised by giving him a cheque for £500 for a 15% interest, providing they required no further contribution for the next ten years. I personally typed a letter setting out the conditions and handed it over with the cheque”.
At this point Lang Hancock had kept the exact location of his iron ore discoveries secret for about seven years, not divulging it to anyone except Peter Wright. Stan sensed that Lang must have had a fairly accurate idea of where iron ore fields were to be found and so he took the gamble. The Commonwealth Government iron ore embargo was eventually lifted as a result of a relentless campaign by mining interests, supported by the WA State Government, and the success story of the Pilbara iron ore is now well known to all of you.
Stan modestly says of his investment with Hancock and Wright: “From my £500 investment, I have recouped my earlier losses in mining, many times over, and my 15% share in Tom Price royalties still returns me about $1 million annually”.
Incidentally, Stan does not measure his success in dollars, he measures it in the ability to achieve things and to generate opportunities. There is a great flow-on benefit to the whole country from people like this.
All that glitters in Kalgoorlie isn’t gold
We should be proud of the success stories we have seen emerge from this region.
People such as Stan Perron, or Charles Warman of Warman Pump fame, or Sir Arvi Parbo, Sir Laurence Brodie-Hall, Roy Woodall all of mining industry fame, Wally Unger of Glindemann & Kitching, the innovative drillers; the team behind Eltin, the team behind Ausdrill and the many other Kalgoorlie-based companies which are now operating all over the world. Each of them travel the world as effective ambassadors for this region, as I hope many of you will.
I hope that our Industry will help many of you make your mark similarly in your field, and that the Kalgoorlie region will continue to be the launching pad for many more success stories.