How Bernie showed the way for 20 years at IMDEX
IMDEX’s long-serving Managing Director Bernie Ridgeway stepped into retirement on 30 June after 20 years of leadership.
Mr Ridgeway was appointed to the role in 2000 and has transformed IMDEX from a fledgling, Perth-based industrial, to a leading global mining-tech company.
His gift for identifying market opportunities and his appetite for global expansion quickly saw the company flourish under his leadership.
“The biggest highlight for me has been taking IMDEX from being an Australian-focused, mixed business with little synergy, to a leading global mining-tech company,” Mr Ridgeway said.
“We now have 20 offices in all key mining regions of the world, support clients in over 100 countries, and have a clear strategy that will provide sustainable earnings growth.”.”
During his tenure Mr Ridgeway increased the company’s annual revenue by $221.3 million, grew the workforce from 50 to some 500, and acquired 15 companies in as many years.
Under his fervent leadership IMDEX has grown via strategic acquisitions and organic growth, with no signs of slowing down.
“We know what our strategic roadmap looks like and where we want to take this business. We have a clear ABC strategy for sustainable growth, that is acquire, build or collaborate. We develop drilling optimisation products and rock knowledge sensors to provide real-time quality data. Together they enhance decision making and sustainable operations across the mining value chain – from the drill rig to the core farm and processing mill.
“We have placed a lot of emphasis on organic growth through taking market share and we will continue to invest in R&D to develop new products that improve efficiencies for the industry.”
IMDEX has a strong history of acquisitions with Mr Ridgeway overseeing 15 in 15 years. While each acquisition has been part of a robust growth strategy, Mr Ridgeway says there are some of note.
“All acquisitions to date have been strategic, the right fit for our company and made at the right time to grow our business,” he said.
“Our acquisition of SamChem in 2005 kickstarted our global expansion and we quickly followed this with further acquisitions abroad.
“In 2006 our acquisition of REFLEX and Chardec provided us with an entry into Europe, and with it significant financial gain.
“Then in 2012 we acquired ioGlobal which got us into the geo science space, and this had a lot of growth potential. Perhaps more significantly, it opened up doors to resource companies for IMDEX.”
Since Mr Ridgeway commenced as MD, he has been pioneering innovative ways to stay at the technology forefront of the mining industry. He believes the industry is in good shape and has a great future.
“We have made some genuine changes to the way the industry operates, and it has all been centred around making the industry more efficient, reducing costs and getting information faster in order to make better decisions.
“Our core drilling tool, IMDEXHUB-IQ™ and IMDEX gyros are all specific examples that come to mind when thinking about how we have set new standards in the industry.”
According to Mr Ridgeway, the biggest challenge facing the mining industry today is the rate of adoption of technology.
“There is an absolute requirement to for the industry to adopt new technology, and while the industry normally does, it is the rate of adoption that will need to increase.
“I am confident this will occur as we are seeing the early stages of this and IMDEX is at the forefront of making this happen.”
While Mr Ridgeway’s career with IMDEX has seen many highlights, it has not all been smooth sailing. He has led the company through market downturns, the GFC, and more recently COVID-19.
“Even through the depths of the cyclical downturns and through the GFC and COVID, we kept spending on engineering and product development,” Mr Ridgeway said.
“The result of this strategy was to come out of the troughs with an expanded technology portfolio and increased technical leadership and market share.
“The silver lining of COVID is that change is happening, people are looking at different ways of working and how people can work remotely.
“We were humbled by how our people stepped up during this crisis.”
Mr Ridgeway has created an innovative culture at IMDEX and speaks highly of the knowledgeable team.
“The culture we have developed is one of innovation, having a can-do attitude and loyalty. Above all, our people have passion. Working at IMDEX is a way of life – it is not a job and I am very proud of our global team.
“Their innovation and commitment are what makes the company so nimble and agile.”
According to Mr Ridgeway it is the people, the excitement of creating something new with them, that he will miss the most during retirement.
“The biggest thing I will miss is the interaction with smart people and the exciting things we develop.
“Running IMDEX has been a 24/7 commitment and it will be a strange feeling being the master of my own diary after 20 years.”
He has no plans to remain on the board of IMDEX post retirement and will take time to decide what the future holds for him.
“I look forward to slowing down, spending more time with my family, travelling without my laptop, reducing my golf handicap and getting fitter on the bike and surf ski,” he said.
“I am leaving at a time when I believe the best is yet to come.
“We have a great Board and leadership team globally and a strong balance sheet to support them.
“What we are building here over the next 3-5 years is very special and I wish CEO Paul House and his team every success.”