Fero welcomes new export sales manager

May 16, 2013

Warwick Smith has mining in his veins.

Fero’s new Export Sales Manager hails from South Africa and brings a wealth of knowledge of the mining industry to his new role.


His main focus is selling strata products —mesh and friction stabilisers — to Ghana, the Philippines and Vietnam, but is also looking at expanding markets in Fiji and New Zealand.

Formerly general manager of Becker Mining in South Africa, he held the post for eight years and was heavily involved with the gold, diamonds, export and industrial divisions.

He also worked at the world’s deepest mine, Western Deep Levels, where he was a shift boss with Anglo Gold Ashanti. The mine reached a staggering 3.5km underground.

His father introduced him to the mines as he worked with Anglo Gold Ashanti for 32 years. “I grew up around mines and gained a solid understanding of what they were about,” he said.

Warwick arrived in Perth in November and started with Fero Group in January.

He said that mining was different in Australia. “In Australia it’s a lot more mechanised with the high cost of labour. There is so much low-cost labour in South Africa.

“In time it will become more mechanised there as unionism and costs rise,” he said.

The switch to Australia was a big move, he said. “It’s been a big mind change, but obviously for all the right reasons.

“The Fero working environment is obviously a family-owned business. At Becker, which was also a family–owned business, it was more global with three branches in Australia. It’s a lot bigger than Fero, but they didn’t have the finger on the pulse as much as the Francos. It’s a hands-on management style here.”

What sets Fero apart is its control of logistics. “Logistics plays a big part and Fero understands logistics, the times it takes to get the articles across the water.

“Some companies are just looking at price and quality. There is no allegiance to price and quality. If you want it cheap you can’t have quality. If you want a quality product, you have to pay for it.

“This is the problem that I am having in these Third World places that I am operating in. They don’t seem to get this across the line. They are trying to compare Chinese product with our product.

“Fero is a first-class company and it doesn’t cut corners with inferior products. It’s a safety-critical item at the end of the day, especially when people’s lives are at risk with this product,” he said.

Warwick enjoys a round of golf as a 12 handicapper in his spare time and has a passion for cycling.

He completed 10 Cape Argus bike rides of 105km around the Cape Peninsular in South Africa, but in Perth is just content to try out the many and varied cycle ways.