The past 50 years have involved several major events, including the 1970s oil crisis, recessions in the early 80s and 90s, wars, natural disasters and, more recently, a global pandemic. Despite some challenging times, Jord has enjoyed five decades of steady, consistent private ownership. The company’s long-serving staff believe it’s “can-do” attitude and nimble approach are behind its success.

Jord was one of the first Australian engineering companies to support the country’s resource boom from the 1970s. John Holden and Phil Blundell attracted and developed the expertise needed for their vision of serving the emerging petroleum, alumina, nickel and sugar industries. Drawing in engineers with ability, humility, curiosity and dedication, the team was guided by principles of innovation, value and reliability.

The company became known for solving unique problems with speed and personal service.

Pictured: Jord Co-Founder Phil Blundell inspecting Jord’s very first order, a rotary drum vacuum filter for the Queensland sugar industry.

Batting above its weight

“We were go-getters, and we weren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and do whatever was needed to get the job done,” said Brad Robinson, who joined the company in the 1980s. “We took risks and we learned on the job, but we always delivered. We had a saying that you would ‘bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell’.”

In the early days, every team member at Jord was tasked with finding and securing new orders and, once an individual landed a new deal, they became the project manager responsible for delivering the project as well. “There was a real sense of pride and ownership because we handled every project from start to finish ourselves,” said Brad.

The small, elite team worked tirelessly to overcome challenging site conditions, tight timelines, and developed world first solutions to solve industry problems. An example of the company’s reliability is the fact that the rotary drum vacuum filter Jord supplied to Queensland’s Farleigh sugar mill in 1976 is still in operation today. It is one of hundreds of custom-designed Jord filters, across various resource industries, with decades of continuous operation.

Pictured: Jord Co-Founder John Holden asleep at his desk in 1978 after working all night to get a key tender proposal out.

Organisational transformation

The introduction of ISO standards together with larger and more complex projects prompted an organisational restructure in the 1990s. Jord centralised operations, making the sales and project management functions autonomous. It was a new era for the company as it matured and was poised for further growth and diversification.

Ronnie Tan joined Jord in Singapore during the 1990s. “The office was oddly shaped, dark, cold and very damp. There was an imbalance of ying and yang, and considered by many of our Chinese friends as having a bad feng shui. But we knew our day would come. We knew we had solid backing,” he said.

To offer new technologies and to expand in new regions, Jord secured strategic licenses and formed manufacturing alliances in Asia and the Middle East. A joint venture with German-based Balcke Duerr provided wet cooling and air cooled condensers technology to complement Jord’s existing dry cooling expertise.

“Balcke Duerr were eager to extend their reach into South East Asia and Australia,” said Ronnie. “They needed our fleetness of foot and can-do spirit, and they had the technology and name for major projects.”

In the 2010s, Jord Oil and Gas Systems B.V. was formed in the Netherlands as an EPC contractor providing design and construction of topside modules and gas compression systems. So too Jord Energy Pty Ltd with a focus on gas turbine accessory modules for the power generation industry. More recently, Jord formed a joint venture with South Africa-based Proxa to provide crystallisation and evaporation plants for battery chemicals, and zero liquid discharge plants to eliminate the discharge of toxic effluents into the environment.

Keeping the culture and philosophy alive

Today, Jord continues to operate based on the same principles and philosophy it was founded on. The business attracts and retains people who thrive on problem-solving. The average length of employee service is over 10 years; well ahead of the industry average. Staff span 10 countries, 25 nationalities and 40 languages.

CEO Angus Holden says Jord is big enough to be trusted with large, complex projects, yet small enough to be innovative, nimble and caring. “We keep the can-do culture alive by developing elite teams, motivating people to innovate and offer new ideas, as well as cultivating healthy internal competition,” said Angus.

To remain nimble and at the forefront of emerging markets, Jord invests in research and development with a goal to commercialise new, sustainable technologies. “Our engineering ideas work because, though they are innovative, they come from a stable and effective base of people, partners, capital, performance and standards.”

In 2022, Jord celebrates 50 years of service. Thank you to all our staff (past and present), customers, vendors and suppliers who have been part of our story.