Thursday, January 18, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

A Quarter Century of Sweet Commitment

Celebrating a remarkable milestone, Wayne Carvolth stands at the helm of 25 years of unwavering dedication to Mackay Sugar. Throughout nearly his entire career, he has witnessed the company's rich history, observed its impactful community contributions, and marvelled at the steadfast commitment of its people to both the local sugar industry and each other. As we delve into his journey, Wayne shares the sweet story of his quarter-century-long connection with Mackay Sugar.

“Sugar is in my blood,” said Wayne. “My father worked at Farleigh Mill for 46 years, I grew up in a Mill House, and I even did some gardening work for the Mill Manager’s private residence (on a hill overlooking Farleigh) during the school holidays.”

“It was a real little community back in those days – everything we needed was on the Farleigh Mill grounds. We had a butcher shop, a mechanic, a general store (typical of the time), the post office, and of course the police station and every house nearby for miles was a Mill House being lived in by Mill workers and their families.

“I started work at Farleigh when I was 16 years old as a pin-puller [de-linking sugar cane bins by hand]. When I was 18, I got a job working on the locos – in my first year I worked with Theo Pace on “Carlisle” loco doing the Pioneer River run, two years with Tommy Coogan on the Pindi run, and one year with Jimmy Caslin on the Wagoora run. I was fortunate enough to work beside some great people during those years,” Wayne remembers.

“When I was around 22 years old, I was working in town during the non-crush (or slack season as it was referred to in those days) and I was contacted by one of my dad’s friends from the Mill to tell me there was a store persons job available and that I should apply, so I did. I had the interview right there in that office behind us now. I knew the people who interviewed me well because I went to school with their kids, so I wasn’t afraid to negotiate a little when they offered me the job on the spot,” said Wayne.

“I was about to be married, so I asked for a mill house for my wife and I as part of my package. The hiring manager said they could only spare one for us for three months, but we ended up living in a Farleigh mill house for 28 years!” Wayne laughed.

“A few years later when the co-op became Mackay Sugar, I secured a job in the central Supply [Procurement] Department where I was either working from the corporate office at Racecourse or relieving for people in a Mill warehouse when they took leave.

“One time, I was filling in for a colleague in central supply and he unfortunately passed away whilst he was on leave! Long story short, I ended up getting his job in the central Supply department,” said Wayne.

“Eventually an opportunity arose for me to work in a Supply consultancy firm, but my first gig was consulting for Mackay Sugar for two years, so I guess I never really left! After that, I was re-employed in a permanent role as Contracts Coordinator, which is when this 25-year tenure began, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

“The whole time I’ve been at Mackay Sugar, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have great managers, and that’s been a really positive thing for me because I’ve had job security and I feel like I’ve been part of the family,” shares Wayne.

“I also really enjoy the work, and I enjoy the people – the comradery and the community. The sugar industry seems to create people who become entrenched in the industry and how important it is for the community,” he explains.

When asked about his views for the future of Mackay Sugar, Wayne explained, “I’ve seen a lot of changes in my time, we’ve ebbed and flowed for years, but Nordzucker assured us a future.”

When it comes to giving advice to new employees or those thinking of joining the Mackay Sugar team, Wayne suggests, “We need new ideas and people who think ahead, but it’s so important for newcomers to realise the world we live in [in Mackay Sugar] before rushing to change it.

“Our industry has so much history and is unique in so many ways that it needs to be fully understood and appreciated before drawing conclusions – we need to build on what we have to move forward.”

Wayne Carvolth celebrates 25 years with Mackay Sugar this month. Story and photo supplied by Mackay Sugar

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