Where are they now – Joe Hurst (SPC 1980-84, PY85)

October 30, 2017

The College- reconnects with former boarder Joe Hurst (SPC 1980-84, PY1985) who has enjoyed an amazing career and has started his own company in Indonesia, combining his love of mining and motorsports.


Joe Hurst.


Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?

At the end of Term 1, 1984, my family moved to Perth, WA. I started immediately at Aquinas College as a day student. The change in life and school attitudes was very challenging, and I did miss St Patrick’s.

From 1986 to 1991, I went to Wigmores/Westrac (the Caterpillar dealer) in Perth, to complete a four-year plant mechanic apprenticeship whilst also being active in surf life-saving at Swanbourne beach as a ”boatie”. I then became a field service technician specializing in hydraulic excavators used in mining and construction and travelling most of WA by car to remote mines. I totally enjoyed my ‘wilderness time’.

Between 1992 to 1994 in the -next step in life, I was at Fremantle TAFE college studying Diploma in Mechanical Engineering whilst working my holidays on remote mines. At this time I also rowed competitively for Fremantle rowing club.-

From 1995 to 2000, I worked at Roche Bros Australia as a plant engineer/regional plant manager in Leonora, Perth, Brisbane, Kalgoorlie and Greenbushes. Being an ex-mechanic helped me challenge the previous behaviour and also helped in making changes to processes resulting in greatly improved performance.

Between 2000 to 2002, I moved east to Orange, NSW as project manager for Komatsu Australia, and was responsible for two 800-tonne mining shovels. I loved Orange and the surrounding farmland and mountains and enjoyed many camping trips and discovery tours through NSW.- I was born in Cowra and baptized by my uncle, a priest in Bathurst, so this was an interesting time for me.

In 2002, I spent six months in Brisbane with Thiess Australia in preparation for Indonesia. I grew up an expat child with my father living in Fiji and Papua New Guinea from 1978 to 1984. This was the same time I attended SPC. As such, I always felt compelled to do the same as my father and work as an expat.

In October 2002, I moved to Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia with Thiess Indonesia as plant operations manager – Indonesia. There were 48 expats, 1300 staff and 1800 machines in plant. It was the biggest challenge of my life to date. Understanding the issues, the politics, the religion, the education/knowledge levels and then implementing a change process to improve all areas. This process took four years to fully establish. In the fifth year I started on process improvement within the mining department. We implemented the Thiess Blue Print process, similar but a far more simple version of 6 Sigma.

In November 2003, my daughter Alice was born and family life began, my biggest education! In March 2006, my son Caleb was born and my education tripled!

In December 2007, I moved from Thiess Balikpapan to the sister company Leighton Indonesia, based in Jakarta as plant manager for Indonesia. There were 14 expats, 1100 staff and 1000 machines in plant and I was now responsible for estimating, assets, maintenance and supply chain – the same process as applied first in Roche, then Komatsu, then Thiess. This was well on the way to success after two years.

In July 2010, I joined the second largest mining contractor in Indonesia, BUMA as Director – Assets and Maintenance.- Now with two expats, 3300 people and 4000 machines in plant. I was working on many of the same issues, but I was now in an Indonesian-owned company. It was an amazing challenge over four years which culminated in leading the new business excellence department which oversaw improvement initiatives in all departments, including a cross functional review and change of management.

In December 2010, my children moved back to Perth with their mum. I visit them several times per year and they come to Bali during the school holidays. Alice is at Penhros in Year 8, and Caleb is at Aquinas in Year 6.

In June 2014, I began the Bruder start up. At the age of 46, I decided it was time for a complete life change. After implementing the same systems and processes in four major mining companies, I could not see myself enjoying doing the same thing again.-

I brainstormed with my work partner, Bruce Palmer from Thiess and BUMA until we agreed on forming our own company based in Bali. Our friends all said this was impossible, so of course we agreed to do it!

Bruder Consulting Indonesia (consulting), Bruder Bebas Indonesia (holding company), Bruder Utama Nusantara (quarry and crushing equipment dealer), Bruder Konstruksi Nusantara (quarrying & mine contracting company) and Bruder Motorsports Internasional (Beta and AJP endure dealership) were all started in 2014. The paperwork took until 2015.

More partners joined Bruder as shareholders. All are long term friends or work mates from Indonesia, Australia and Canada, with 14 partners in total.- In 2016, our first sales and projects in quarries started. In 2017, we began tendering, partnering and business development plus started a mine. We will be around 300 people by December 17.

In 2018, Bruder will start up two mines plus two quarries plus more motorbike sales.

The challenges and stress have been the most I have experienced in my life. This company establishment has been the best decision I could have made!

In March 2018, I will turn 50 and I am feeling better about life than I ever have before. I know my children and my work partners will be safe and secure in the future.

In the next five years, I plan on building Bruder, and expanding to other ASEAN countries- – Develop the people.- Empower the team. Invite new partners to join Bruder.

In five to 10 years from now, I plan on spending more time with my children as they enter their late teens/university plus spend some time travelling the world. What will I be doing in 10-20 years from now? Motorbike world tours, mountain trekking, stunt pilots license, who knows but it must be fun and scary!


What are your favorite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?

The friendship and support amongst the boarders. Always looking out for each other. The guidance by the Brothers and teachers on how to be a better man, a gentleman with respect for others but also the need to challenge the status quo.


Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?

Without doubt, Zocky, the Doctor – Brother Zoch. This man is a legend. His patience. His depth of knowledge. His ability to treat all people the same. To include all people. To make people feel appreciated. To educate and to challenge. I spent a huge amount of my spare time at school working with Zochy to help maintain the grounds using tractors and equipment. Also in helping to manage the Q Store as cadets were a big part of my time at SPC. No need to go on as no doubt, there are 1000s of ex SPC lads who feels the same way.


How has your education shaped your professional life?

Persistence, the need to dig until you understand, never give up and of course mathematics. I use these every day.


How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?

Strong personal morals related to respecting people and their culture/religion, a focus on the future. Hard times come along but they only make you stronger. We cannot change history. Independence from family as a boarder has given me strength in life and I feel I also impart this on my children. Never hold back because of missing family or friends.


If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?

Dream, plan, act step by step. Back to basics. Keep life simple, Never give up. You will achieve your dream.