Bale Engineering & HVTC celebrate 20 years

In February 1995, Port Macquarie’s Bale Engineering signed its first two fitter machinist apprentices with HVTC - Michael Roach and Jeremy Tydd.

Twenty years later, both Michael and Jeremy are still there helping new apprentices deliver a range of products and services to defence facilities and associated industries throughout Australia and the South Pacific.

Over the past two decades Bale Engineering and Bale Defence Industries have hosted approximately 20 HVTC apprentices. Currently there are four engineering apprentices on their books; Liam Norman and Philip Schouten are studying Engineering Fabrication, while Brad Ashbee and Tom Wigman are studying Engineering Mechanical.

Director Bob Bale started Bale Engineering in 1979 and its continued growth and expansion sees the company now employing a highly trained and skilled workforce of 22 staff including boiler makers, engineers, technical writers and fitter machinists.

Bale Defence Industries is at the forefront of innovation with the first of 19 specialised military rough terrain vehicles produced for the Australian Army in August 2014. According to mechanical engineer Link Bale, the company had been researching, developing, and working with the army on the project for two to three years before winning the contract for the design, manufacture and testing of the rough terrain vehicles.

The new vehicles are rugged and reliable; capable of conducting operations anywhere in the world. They can be carried inside or underneath military aircraft, allowing them to be used in even the most remote locations.

The project has been great for the Port Macquarie area as the company has been able to utilise local expertise and this has provided a unique opportunity for industries in the region to be exposed to high quality defence standards. It also allowed the company to attract some of the best young tradesmen from schools and technical colleges in the region to their two large workshops.

Mr Bale said the rough terrain vehicle contract was probably the most in depth project the business had undertaken as they had to design and manufacture the vehicles from scratch. Bale Defence Industries will continue to repair damage, replace equipment and supply spare parts for the vehicles over the next five years.

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith believes Bale Engineering’s reputation is second to none. “HVTC appreciates their ongoing commitment to the training and development of apprentices. We thank them for their support over the past 20 years and look forward to many more years working together to provide employment opportunities for young people in the region,” Ms Smith said.

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Two generations of Bale Engineering and HVTC apprentices L to R: Liam Norman, Brad Ashbee, Jeremy Tydd, Philip Schouten, Michael Roach, Hayden Smith and Tom Wigman.