Meet the Queensland Business That Started at Home and Now Has 140 Employees
RIE co-owner, Elena Short is one of few women nation-wide who is an Electrical and Instrument (E&I) Technician, as well as an Electrical Engineer.
Elena and her business co-owner, Jamie Short, worked as E&I Technicians in a variety of industries Australia wide before coming across Chinchilla in the Western Downs region of Queensland, in their travels. They recognised the potential to service a previously unfulfilled gap in the engineering market within the resource sector and to make a home with the regional lifestyle they wanted.
“We ran the business from our house for the first five years during which we had meetings with QGC in our lounge room and signed up our first Aboriginal Apprentice while our baby slept in the room next door,” Elena said.
RIE has come a long way from their humble beginnings working out of their Chinchilla home. The team has grown over ten years from a team of two to as many as 140 members, largely thanks to their work with the natural gas industry.
Jamie Short said their passion for the trade and getting things done properly is what grew their reputation and got them from their first sub-contract at Kogan Creek Power Station, to working with a variety of resource companies today.
“Without the resource sector the business would not have had the opportunities it has had,” Jamie said.
“It is great to see more women exploring opportunities in the resource sector too,” Elena said. “I believe the resource sector is stable in the region, with growth potential in the next fifteen to twenty years,”.
Elena grew up helping her father work in mechanics and with an interest in fixing things, was encouraged by her three older brothers, to apply for an apprenticeship as an E&I Technician at the Malanda Milk Factory in Far North Queensland.
“I was the only women in my trade at TAFE and one of only two women enrolled in the Electrical Engineering Degree at USQ.” Elena said.
“I felt a bit like I had to work harder and get better results because I am a woman.”
“But at the end of the day, I’m passionate about what I do and glad I’ve achieved what I have.”
RIE is involved in supporting school programs to encourage students to consider engineering and the resource sector for future employment.
“I’m passionate about showing young kids they don’t need to move away and that there are opportunities to get in and get trained by a lot of companies in the area,” Elena said.
Income from natural gas doesn’t just benefit those directly employed by the industry but does a lot to support the local communities that host gas projects. Small businesses and local economies in host communities and around the country benefit from this income.Explore
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