10 May 2023

New life for much-loved business

| Matt Nicholls
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Junction Engineering’s Kirsty Hair and James Backo with Glen Griffin and Narelle Dealy from GG Contracting.

WHEN one door closes, another tends to open.

That’s the case for a prominent Weipa business, which changed hands earlier this month.

GG Contracting, a mainstay in Weipa for the past two decades under founders Glen Griffin and Narelle Dealy, has been sold to Junction Engineering Group, a locally-owned business with big dreams.

For many locals, it is the end of an era with “Griffo” no longer there to save their backsides when something needs fixing.

But James Backo, who grew up in Weipa, says he will fill that void.

“There are some big shoes to fill when working out of the GG yard but we have full confidence we can continue to provide the great service that was available,” he said.

“We will offer the same services that GG Contracting was offering and we will pick that up and take it forward.”

Junction started as a one-man show – two if you include his partner Kirsty – and now has 24 employees on the books, 30 per cent of whom are Indigenous.

“It went from myself on the first day working on a shutdown at Amrun, sweating and flogging myself,” James said.

“But we have a clear vision of where we want to go and everything has gone to plan so far.”

James said he wanted Junction, a 100 per cent Indigenous-owned company, to become the leading contractor in FNQ.

“We owe our success so far to our dedicated, hard-working staff to help us achieve our vision,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“From Weipa and the Cape, we want to expand elsewhere in Queensland and then interstate.

“The support we’ve had from local businesses and individuals in the community so far has been really appreciated.”

But there is no rush to expand.

“Everything is step-by-step. We have just been taking it easy and making smart business decisions,” James said.

Junction offers a range of different services, including labour hire support for the mining industry, steel works and sales, fabrication and maintenance, as well as a carpentry division.

For Griffo, he’s happy to see the shed and yard remain in local hands.

“When James first approached me a few months ago I knew straight away it was going to be a good thing,” he said.

“It’s really important for Weipa to have this kind of business and having a local in charge will make a big difference.”

Griffo and Narelle came to Weipa in 1998 with a view to travel and work but never left.

“We wanted to travel and there was a welding job at Skardon River,” he explained.

“But as we got to town, the little mine closed so I didn’t end up going there, except to go fishing.

“We wanted to do a wet season though so we looked for jobs and I think Narelle got a job within two hours and I picked up one within a couple of days.”

Griffo worked for a few different places, including with legendary business owner John Kennedy – both before and after he purchased Goodline – before going out on his own.

“The great thing about Weipa is the opportunities it provides if you’re willing to have a crack and work hard,” he said.

“I’ve had a lot of good people work for me over the last 20 years and we’ve had a lot of great business and individual support in the community.”

Griffo said he wouldn’t be lost to Weipa any time soon, with plans to take a bit more time for himself in the short-term.

“I’ve got full faith in James and Junction to do a great job. They’ve got a great vision and I’m sure they’ll achieve their goals.”

Griffo and Narelle are putting on a barbecue at the GG Contracting/Junction yard in Evans Landing this Friday from 2 to 4pm.

“We invite the community to come and say goodbye and also meet James and Kirsty and introduce yourselves if you don’t know them,” he said.

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