Out and about with Danny Dries, Regional Manager- Northern and Western NSW
Tell us about your background and how you came to work for Wormald?
After I left school, I completed a motor mechanic apprenticeship and was soon managing a fabrication and engineering business. Driven by a passion for operational management, I then undertook a Diploma of Business Management.
I first came across Wormald when I was managing a steel and engineering company. I’d developed a strong relationship with Dave Cox, who was a Minor Works Vehicle Systems Supervisor for Wormald’s Singleton branch at the time, and he mentioned that Wormald was looking for a Service Manager based in Singleton. I thought the role would align well with my management, mechanical and fabrication background so I applied for the job.
How has your role evolved since you first joined Wormald?
I joined Wormald in February 2007, managing the Electrical Service/Installations and Fire Equipment departments in Singleton. Within 12 months, I had completed the asset maintenance qualification which allowed me to drive compliance within the team, and I implemented a plan to train personnel across all of our product offerings. By the end of 2008 my role expanded to include operations for the New England region while the Singleton portfolio continued to grow as work within the local mining sector increased.
During my time in Singleton, Wormald supplied a range of fire systems from addressable and conventional detection systems, dual agent and foam vehicle fire suppression, as well as gaseous suppression systems for mining and heavy industrial clients. I also provided field technical service and installations while working with the team on draglines, shovels, hydraulic excavators and heavy mobile plant.
In 2013 my role expanded to Singleton & Western Region Branch Manager which incorporated the Orange, Dubbo and Broken Hill business units, and in 2015 I was appointed to my current role as Regional Manager – Northern and Western NSW.
Explain your current role and responsibilities
Our region has a diverse range of customers across mining, heavy industrial and aviation. We also work with retail, aged care and commercial businesses.
My day to day responsibilities include managing financial administration, human resources, industrial relations, environmental health and safety for the region. I oversee key account management as well as sales and business growth. Wormald has also recently introduced new technology to assist with service delivery and reporting, which allows our teams to work more efficiently, and manage a higher volume of customer requests.
What do you enjoy most about working at Wormald?
The people I work with and the company’s culture. I enjoy working for a business that offers opportunities for staff development while embracing innovation through new technology. Wormald is also leading the fire protection industry by introducing new products and services that provide better outcomes for its customers.
What do you find most interesting about the fire protection industry?
I was initially drawn to the industry due to the diversity of trades that work across the Wormald business. When I first joined the business, I was managing a team of electricians which was a new learning experience for me. In the years since, it has been fascinating to witness advancements in product technology and the evolution of compliance rated licensing including NSW fire safety reforms and the introduction of competent fire safety practitioners.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you face in your current role?
Maintaining a profitable operational business has become increasingly challenging in regional areas due to the long-distance travel and staff resources required to support our customers. Like many businesses, Wormald rosters technicians across multiple day shifts and provides after-hours support within the 24/7 service cycle. This makes team safety paramount, especially when planning for high-risk tasks including special hazard fire protection, mining environments and height restricted sites, while also managing employee fatigue.
The lack of national regulation across our industry continues to be an ongoing challenge. The focus on qualifications and licensing in an industry that has been unregulated for a long time is a positive step in the right direction. All Wormald technicians are qualified but without an industry standard, independent operators that aren’t qualified or licensed can continue to service customers. In Queensland, individuals and companies must hold a Queensland Building and Construction (QBCC) license to carry out fire protection work, which was prompted by the tragic backpacker fire incident in Childers where 15 people were killed. It would be good to see other states and territories follow Queensland’s example.
In addition, concerns about the environmental impact of Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFFs) continue to challenge the fire protection industry. Despite the availability of more environmentally friendly fluorine free foam products, there is an ongoing lack of awareness of its detrimental effects and no regulation in NSW preventing the use of AFFF.
What trends or issues are you seeing in the fire industry today?
One of the biggest issues I’ve witnessed in the fire protection industry is the yearly decline in fire system servicing, scheduling and installation. However, I’m hopeful that technology advancements and changes to compliance requirements can help improve this. For instance, the industry is still hamstrung by standards that require a hard copy of testing dockets be provided to the customer onsite. Wormald is working with Standards Australia to identify ways in which digital technology can assist to make compliance processes more efficient and cost effective, by moving away from that reliance on printed hard copies.
When you’re not working, how do like to spend your down time?
I’m a family man and enjoy spending time with my wife and children, road cycling and kart racing with my young son. We have a shared passion for kart racing and my son recently completed his first race. It’s also been an opportunity to pass on knowledge to him, given my background in motor mechanics and engineering.