Riordan Grain stacks together one million tonnes bulk export grain and 25 years of business

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Riordan Grain Services reached a milestone of one million tonnes of bulk export grain during April 2021 and it coincided with 25 years of its operation

Jim Riordan inspects a shipment of grain that takes the company tally to over a million tonnes of grain onto bulk vessels, and on top of that has also been supplying local customers

This outstanding volume was achieved over the past four years, despite challenges such as drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riordan Grain has been exporting bulk grain shipments from Geelong and Portland VIC facilities with the first shipment in 2017. Prior to bulk exports, they shipped grain via containers for around 17 years.

Managing director, Jim Riordan, said these milestones would not be possible without the dedication of staff, family and friends, and the support of business, industry and community partners.

“The ability for our business to start in 1996 and be where we are today is probably beyond what I’d ever expect we could have achieved,” he said.

“The support of the Council, Government, the Port and the community has been critical to achieving the one million bulk export milestone – to take Australian grain directly from growers, to ports and onto important overseas markets.

“In fact, the millionth tonne, when we did the calculations, came directly from a farm to the ship at GeelongPort.

“For us as a business that’s our ultimate goal; to see farmers be involved in the whole process from the paddock right through to the ship, which then goes straight to the customers overseas.

“It’s as direct as we can make our supply chain.”

Jim says the industry, regulators and government helped Riordan Grain, back in 2013, to develop a system that worked to support a fully deregulated grain marketplace.

“While it was some way there, we still had what I deemed to be a regulated supply chain,” he explained.

“With bulk ship loading we’ve managed to develop a system that enables us to now go from farms direct onto ships, with no need to go through major port terminals. 

“As you see we’ve done over a million tonnes of grain on to bulk vessels, and on top of that we’ve also been supplying our domestic customers and our export container customers.”

Jim says it is now a very stable marketplace where a lot of people have their own customers and supply chains.

“I think it can operate as a mutually successful system for the industry long term.

“It enables us to have a transparent pricing mechanism when we’re exporting grain, and so the whole marketplace has growers who can sell to many participants, you have a flow of grain, you have liquidity in a marketplace and you have a secure industry that’s paying its bills on time.

“That’s the real bonus for the industry and us as a business.”

Success attributed to teamwork

When asked about how the business has grown, Jim points to the Riordan Grain team, saying it’s a combination of being nimble and flexible.

“My motto is to always be better at what we’re already good at, and if we can continue to do this it will lead to longevity.

“We can’t have a successful business without good customers, good suppliers, and great staff that get the job done.

“We work hard to build and maintain strong relationships with our key customers across important international grain markets.”

Riordan Grain started at Winchelsea, about 40km west of Geelong VIC, growing from a one-person operation in 1996 to a $300 million business employing around a hundred permanent staff plus contractors.

“We moved from Winchelsea to Lara in 1998, and from there we developed the business of storage and supplying the malting industry here in Geelong,” Jim explained.

Now the company owns and operates several sites at Geelong, Balliang, Lismore and Edenhope. With grain loading undertaken at Geelong and Portland ports.

“On a daily basis we can have anything up to a couple of hundred people involved in one of the processes we have going on, throughout the season.

“I am very pleased to say that we still deal with a lot of customers that were there at the start, and many of our team have been with us for more than 10 years, some close to 20.

In celebrating both milestones with staff, partners, family and friends, Jim says it is an opportunity for him to thank and recognise the important role they continue to play in the company’s success.

“Their commitment and support make all the difference to our current and long-term success.

“I think there’s a lot of people looking over the fence now saying that agriculture is not a bad place to be. There is a massive future and career potential for the young ones that are coming through.

“I am so proud of everything we’ve all achieved, and excited by the future and what we can do.