Nov 27, 2020

A drilling legacy

A drilling legacy Tom Partleton drilling in late 1999 on school holidays

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The head of Queensland drilling company GeoDrill Australia was always going to be a driller.

Tom Partleton’s grandfather learned the trade during World War II, where he served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers.

The war ended and a dynasty started with the skills handed down through the generations. 

Steve Partleton

Mr Partleton’s father, Steve, immigrated to Australia in 1996 in time to establish a geotechnical drilling business and meet the wave that was the early 2000s mining boom. 

Moura Mine was one of his first operations.

Mr Partleton has a degree in property economics but was always drawn to work for the family business.

“I would go to work with dad during my holidays in primary school and Nan would give me a pay packet at the end of the week; cash in a brown envelope,” he said.

Managing director Tom Partleton.

“I was working for dad on and off through high school in my school holidays. Drilling is in the blood and you get addicted to it. Dad has been my biggest mentor and best friend.

“My biggest lesson has been the importance of having a strong customer value proposition that is imperative to our survival today.

“The longevity of the business has helped us to establish ourselves as a provider and employer of first preference. We have a great rapport with our customers.

“We have really strong values in family and safety. I have three young children (seven, five, and two) and our general manager has quite a few children as well. 

George, Ben and Lilly Partleton.

“The business is supported by 25 team members (and) a lot of them have young family members. So, we really emphasize the importance of family and we run the business in that sense as well.”

The company’s legacy had always been water well drilling and the move to Australia presented many opportunities in the geotechnical industry, Mr Partleton said.

There’d been a concerted effort to develop coal and hard rock drilling capabilities and be otherwise ahead of the curve in responding to changes in market demand, with the current demand created by the gold price spike a case in point, he said.

GeoDrill on site in the Bowen Basin.

“I think our customers generally engage us based on our experience. The leadership team has a lot of experience in both coal and hard rock.

“Recently, we have obtained several diamond drill rigs ensuring they can be set up for RC Drilling as well so that we can complete those programs that require deeper diamond depths with RC at the surface.”

The company services a diverse range of customers including Tier 1 and was active in exceeding expectations when it came to compliance, he said.

“For GeoDrill Australia, it’s really important that we have that strong people value proposition, and that flows through to our customer value proposition as well as being able to provide a service that gives us great feedback,” Mr Partleton.

“We’ve achieved ISO45001 Health and Safety, ISO9001 Quality and ISO14001 Environment accreditations. It’s the sort of accreditation you think would be well-known amongst the drilling industry, but there really is just a handful of drilling companies out there that have all of these certifications.”

GeoDrill Australia can be contacted on 1300 037 455