Jobs secured as Qteq sheds WellDog tag
A successful management buy-in has saved more than 50 high-tech energy and resources industry jobs with receivers Pitcher Partners agreeing to sell the business of WellDog Pty Ltd to Qteq Pty Ltd.
The new entity’s establishment was funded by Perth-based company ProX Pty Ltd.
Headed by 40-year industry veteran and former WellDog director Simon Ashton, ProX provided the financial support to ensure the Australian operation remained a going concern during receivership. It then financed the purchase of the remains of the business through a new holding company.
“All ties with the US parent company are now severed and, while many faces will be the same as far as clients and suppliers are concerned, Qteq in no way reflects the management ethos of its predecessor,” Mr Ashton said.
Executive chairman of receivers Pitcher Partners Bryan Hughes said the transition was “a case study in how the fortunes of a company in receivership can improve so quickly”.
“This outcome was achieved thanks to the concerted efforts of staff, suppliers, clients, the receivership team and with financial support from ProX,” Mr Hughes explained.
Mr Ashton, a Perth-based businessman, dipped into his own pocket to ensure salaries and suppliers were paid and that vital work continued as the receivership period unfolded.
“I could hardly stand by and see this tremendous group of highly trained professionals – who were providing world-class services – simply put out of work. I also could not see our loyal clients left high and dry either.
“Here was our greatest asset, our people – and they were truly stunned by WellDog Pty Ltd’s collapse – but they were determined to stick together and I couldn’t help but admire their willingness to work through this difficult period.
“They rewarded ProX’s financial support by doubling their efforts, keeping clients happy and increasing our orders to record levels, so much so that we had to take on extra personnel. It wasn’t hard to see the potential, so ProX decided to invest more and effectively fund a ‘management buy-in’.”
Now that Qteq is a wholly Australian-owned technical services company – headed by Mr Ashton, as chairman and CEO, and managing director Ewan Meldrum – it has recapitalised the business and its board is progressing plans for growth, acquisitions and expansion.
“It really is remarkable how our crew in Toowoomba has rallied over the past few months,” Mr Meldrum said. “They have shown the calibre of their commitment not only to our new company but also to the region’s georesources industry by focusing on their work, ensuring our clients’ supply chains were not disrupted and continuing our excellent health and safety record.”
Mr Meldrum said Qteq was coming into an established market with a mature, reliable and recognisable service.
“We already have the industry and supplier connections and we’re widely known for our ability to deliver valuable economic and environmental innovation for our clients, no matter what the challenge,” Mr Meldrum said.
“Already we have been forging new business partnerships and are looking to expand our footprint offshore. We are justifiably proud to emerge under our new entity, Qteq, and grateful to ProX for helping make that happen.”
Having secured the services of a top-flight executive team – who, together have many decades of global resources industry experience – the Qteq crew is firmly focused on ensuring economic innovation for Qteq’s growing list of clients.
With its primary operations base located in Toowoomba and headed by Adam Fitz-Henry, Qteq begins its corporate life as one of the nation’s leading suppliers of products, services and expertise that facilitate surveillance of underground water and energy resources.
“Our team is already widely known as world leaders in downhole monitoring for clients in a wide range of georesources industries,” Mr Fitz-Henry said.
“We install leading-edge equipment that automatically measures and uploads critical data so that clients can monitor what’s happening below the surface, in real time, whether that be water or pressure levels or testing for the presence of contaminants.
“What distinguishes us in this market is that we are able to engineer clever georesources solutions where others simply see obstacles.
“That’s because our team can draw on a wealth of technology, expertise and deep industry knowledge and we are not afraid to think outside the square when confronted with a challenge.
“I guess that’s because many of us are locals, born and bred here in a community that fosters innovation, imagination and adaptation like no other.
“While most of our products are sourced internationally, we package, re-engineer and make them industry- and price-appropriate right here in Toowoomba.
“And, as our clients know, we have inherited an enviable reputation for health and safety, both on-site and in our workshop.”
Qteq’s timely emergence as a strong going concern has helped reassure major players in the georesources industries.
Shell’s General Manager Wells Operations Australia, Mike Ward, said Qteq had delivered economic and environmental innovation in its work for Shell: “Qteq is providing high-volume, low-cost solutions that are important to our business.”
Originating in America, Welldog established its Australian arm, WellDog Pty Ltd, in 2011 and became a respected technical services provider. However, its financial future was upended earlier this year after its US parent company placed the company in voluntary administration. Immediately after, its major secured creditor, Mr Ashton’s company ProX Pty Ltd, called in the receivers. To ensure the company stayed afloat until a decision could be made on its future, ProX immediately assigned an experienced turnaround management team to stabilise the business and provided working capital to ensure the business could successfully trade and meet its contractual commitments. This protected clients’ supply chains, ensured no disruptions to services and met payroll commitments.