Tomago Aluminium Rewards Employees for Innovation and Excellence

Tomago Aluminium’s CEO Andy Robbins with Dean Crossthwaite and CFO Stacey Sleeman.

IT is a massive business in the area, and one of our biggest energy users, but there is a whole lot more to Tomago Aluminium than a manufacturing plant.

The business and its staff strive for excellence and after a tireless effort to stop COVID-19 at the front gate the team has celebrated those awarded in this year’s Tomago Aluminium Innovation and Excellence Awards night.

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The annual awards night was held at Souths Newcastle Rugby League Club in Merewether, recognising the efforts of individuals and teams employed by the company to improve the smelter’s operations.

A series of strategies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as the big winner with Tomago’s Occupational Health and Hygiene Team leader, Dean Crossthwaite, recognised as the overall winner of Tomago Aluminium’s seventh annual Innovation and Excellence Award.

Dean was recognised for his work in leading Tomago Aluminium through the pandemic and dealing with its constant challenges.

As part of his war on COVID, Dean made himself available around-the-clock for almost two years.

At the same time that he was fighting the virus, Dean was also involved with finding a replacement for some 400 specialist safety helmets used by the smelter’s potline operators, a program that involved 150 different trials on a variety of helmets before settling on a replacement.

For his efforts, Dean took home a $25,000 international and domestic travel prize, a unique trophy made from a slice of Tomago’s Aluminium billet and an ingot.

Describing Dean as “very deserving of this award”, Tomago Aluminium Chief Executive Officer Andy Robbins said he had demonstrated amazing dedication to his work.

“Dean went above and beyond to lead the business through what was an incredibly difficult time.

“He is well-respected by employees and leaders alike and we appreciate his efforts,” Mr Robbins said.

For Dean the award was a true bolt from the blue.

“To be honest, it was a bit of a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment for me when my name was called-out and even a few days later it is still sinking in.

“I feel very honoured by the award,” he said.

“You don’t expect that sort of thing, you just do your job.

“During the COVID crisis we had a lot of problems to solve, things like cleaning, personal protection equipment, developing a vaccination program, making our own hand sanitiser, those sorts of things.

“And there were the COVID waves we had to deal with, going from low numbers to a peak of 2000 positive cases a day in Newcastle just before last Christmas.”

While it is still early days for a man who is “only now coming back to earth” Dean is making tentative plans for a trip to Europe.

Andy Robbins said Tomago Aluminium encourages its employees to continually strive for improvement and to look for new, different and better ways of doing things.

“That’s what these awards, which are presented to individuals and teams, are all about.

“We see our people as the experts in their fields and we know they are the best at identifying ways in which we can advance our workplace and we want to reward them for their efforts,” Mr Robbins said.

Other category winners included Ken Felton, who was able to save a substantial amount of money by using a locally-supplied Alpur Box refractory lining and Adam Priestly, who designed and managed Tomago’s Paste Plant transfer car weighing system upgrades.


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