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Mining legend Ron Sayers remembered

Legendary mining entrepreneur Ron Sayers has been remembered as generous, entertaining, and a big-thinking business leader after passing away this morning.

Mr Sayers founded mining services business Ausdrill in Kalgoorlie in 1987, which is now ASX-listed Perenti Global.

From an initial one drill rig operation, Perenti has become an international business with more than $2 billion of annual revenue, operating in 12 countries across four continents.

He was also heavily involved in the local racing industry, including as a director of Perth Racing, and as a breeder.

Mr Sayers, aged 70, is understood to have passed away peacefully only weeks after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, and was survived by his wife Lyn and five children.

Argonaut executive chairman Eddie Rigg was a close friend of Mr Sayers for many years.

“He was an unusually inclusive, exciting, funny man,” Mr Rigg told Business News.

Mr Sayers had overcome many obstacles in his life, he said, including leaving school at about 14 years of age.

“Could someone emulate what he’s done again?” Mr Rigg said.

“It’ll take a very special person to do that.

“To go from Kalgoorlie, his dad raised him; to leave school to get a mechanic’s ticket.

“A guy who had polio as a child.”

The story of building the business was an amazing story, Mr Rigg said.

“(Mr Sayers was) a big thinker,” he said.

“For a boy from Kalgoorlie he was an enormously big thinker.”

Mr Rigg said Mr Sayers was a happy man and a great storyteller, who would frequently have a crowd erupting with laughter.

He was also a very ethical businessman, Mr Rigg said.

“Ron is one of the most ethically and morally appropriate people I’ve met,” Mr Rigg said.

“He used to have this saying- if it’s not fair, it’s not right.”

Mr Sayers‘ partnership with his wife Lyn could not be understated, Mr Rigg said.

“He couldn’t have done what he did without her,” he said.

100 miles an hour

Brian Mann ran Ausdrill’s Kalgoorlie operations for decades, and knew Mr Sayers from their school days.

“Ron was just a go-getter,” Mr Mann said.

“His mind was going at 100 miles an hour.

“Always looking for an opportunity.

“Always proactive in looking for work.”

GR Engineering cofounder Tony Patrizi was also a close friend and neighbour of Mr Sayers.

Mr Patrizi said an apt description of Mr Sayers he had heard was that he was “bigger than the Super Pit”.

“A very down to earth man, very much a man’s man,” Mr Patrizi said of Mr Sayers.

“Very much a person that was very (focussed) on helping people and assisting people.”

He was generous, too, Mr Patrizi said.

“Ron had a lot of friends,” he said.

“I’d find it hard to find an enemy… when you’re talking about Ron.”

He also reflected on Mr Sayers’ skill as a businessperson.

“Ron always had a plan,” Mr Patrizi said.

“Everything he did he always had a plan, that was his main forte.

“Did a lot of listening, listened to a lot of people, but Ron always had a plan.

“More often than not, our Ronald, a mere motor mechanic by profession, would implement his plan and had so, so, so, many admirers in all facets of life.”

Perenti

In a statement today, Perenti said the company’s thoughts were with Mr Sayers and his family.

“The growth of the business during his 30 years as managing director reflected Ron’s love for the industry and entrepreneurial spirit,” the company said.

“He was a larger-than-life character who was hugely passionate about the company and the people that worked for him.

“Ron achieved a huge amount while he was involved in the business and his legacy lives on today.”

The company said the expansion of Ausdrill had been rapid.

Mr Sayers acquired his first business a year after founding the company, then branched out into Africa in 1991 and South America in 1992.

“Ausdrill expanded its services in 1993 when it formed West African Mining Services in Ghana and the company grew on the back of further acquisitions and strategic alliances listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1994,” the statement said.

“In 2007 he began to manufacture and maintain drill rigs and other ancillary drilling equipment founding Drill Rigs Australia, a company that developed the iconic Rock Commander Drills. 

“In the same year he teamed up with life long friend Peter Bartlett bringing both Ausdrill and Barminco together for the first time in a 50/50 joint venture African Underground Mining Services.

“He retired from the company in July 2018 after 31 years.”



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