Interview with Ben Hall, GWA Supplies
About GWA Supplies
Founded in 2011, Banbridge based GWA Supplies have pioneered the development of innovative supply chain solutions for the global wind industry.
Clients range from small onshore to large offshore wind farms across Europe and as far as New Zealand and America. GWA Supplies turn part supply into high value-added services that make the lives of wind farm owners and operators much Safer, Smarter and Simpler.
We spoke to Annalong born Ben Hall on leading the company expansion in Australia
Please introduce yourself and your job title?
Ben Hall, GWA Supplies Client Executive – Australia
Where are you from and where did you study?
I’m from a little village called Annalong, right in the heart of the Mourne Mountains. I was brought up in the family farming business that supplied all of the produce for our guesthouse and restaurant.
I was exclusively tutored at home, and have been fortunate to have had many great mentors and role models to learn first-hand from their experiences.
I’m not sure that mum and dad could have picked two more difficult businesses to combine. It was a very hard-working environment.
Having said that, growing up on a farm is great fun and working in a hospitality business is a great foundation for a future in sales.
Tell us about the journey from Northern Ireland to Australia?
When my parents retired, they passed the business over to my brother and me. After a couple of years, we both decided that after 20 years of working every Christmas, New Year’s Eve and weekend, we were ready for a new adventure.
I remember talking to my wife and asking, “Well, you have put up with me working all of the unsociable hours, what do you want to do?” Her response was to move to Australia, where she has some family. So, off we went.
We left on New Year’s Eve, 2014 and arrived in Sydney, New Year’s Day, 2015.
What are you most proud of?
When asked this question I always say that my wife is still married to me! However, most recently it would be introducing this unique business model to an entirely new market here in Australia; watching with pride at the success that we have worked hard to achieve in the fast-growing, and exciting wind energy market.
It’s incredibly rewarding to see hard work paying off, the concept working, and the efficiencies that we bring to our customers having a real and tangible benefit. Believe me, in the catering and farming industry, this is not always the case.
Tell me about your decision to get involved with GWA Supplies?
I knew the CEO Clifford McSpadden since his BE Aerospace days. When I was looking for a business to invest in or an idea for a business to start, I discovered that GWA Supplies was selling international licences, as Clifford sought to expand the business.
I had also spent some time working with GWA Supplies before we moved to Australia. It seemed like a natural fit, and I knew the support I would get. Not to mention what an amazing opportunity it would be, to be the first business introducing the unique GWA Supplies model to a new country.
Was it important for you to give something back to N.I. by supporting a local company export to Australia?
To be honest, getting involved with a Northern Irish company could be argued to be a somewhat selfish move on my part. In many ways, it seemed like the most obvious choice. I knew that we shared the same work ethic and drive and that I was assured of support.
What are your thoughts on the important role that diaspora can play in helping local companies export and promoting N.I. as a location for investment / doing business?
It isn’t important, it’s essential that we promote and support our wee part of the world that we will always call home.
Northern Ireland has an extremely wide reach, here in Australia one of my biggest customers in the wind energy sector is also from Northern Ireland. Aside from our service, this makes doing business a pleasure.
Regardless of sector, the region represents a fantastic place to do business, uniquely connected to the rest of the world and offering a wealth of really talented individuals.
Would you encourage others to do so?
Operating within an exceptional, fast-growth sector (wind energy), with a unique supply chain concept, we are well placed to meet some very impressive people. It is always a pleasure when they turn out to hail from “just down the road”.
In my experience, there is a shared enthusiasm, pride and willingness for the success of Northern Ireland that is endemic among all from what we proudly call “our wee country”. No matter where you go, or in what industry you are operating, you are never very far from somebody from home. Extolling the benefits and promoting N.I. seems to come naturally.
What do you miss about home?
The weather and family. I’ll leave you to decide in what order.
Perhaps we’ll go to the beach later?
We understand that you can’t visit home at the minute due to current restrictions, but when you do travel home what changes have you noticed?
I haven’t been home since 2019, so it’s difficult to say what I would notice. What I can say is that when I talk to people from home, especially with all the social restrictions that are in place, it seems that we come into our own during tough times.
Our entrepreneurial spirit and determination to get the job done are second to none. As a little nation, we continually punch way above our weight class, particularly in business.