“Why didn’t we make a counter offer? We were shut out.”
So said MidCoast Trucks director, Adrienne Smith when questioned by councillor Brad Christensen at MidCoast Council’s ordinary meeting on Wednesday, November 23.
“We were shut out – on the day of exchange. We weren’t even told, actually. On Monday November 6, when we were gazumped, we weren’t invited for a counter offer,” Ms Smith said.
Cr Christensen sought clarification as to whether it was the real estate agent, Cushman and Wakefield, that had shut out MidCoast Trucks, to which Ms Smith replied, “We’re not 100 per cent sure; that’s what we’re requesting legal documents for.”
Cr Christensen’s questions followed public addresses to council by MidCoast Trucks executive general manager, Steven Vorgias, and Ms Smith.
In her address, Ms Smith said, “I feel something was not correct and all the facts weren’t in front of all the councillors to make the decision.”
Ms Smith then supplied a timeline of events and claims that MidCoast Council called the extraordinary meeting on the eve of MidCoast Trucks exchanging contracts over Masters with the vendors.
“At 5.57pm on October 19, our offer was accepted in writing,” Ms Smith said.
“We were ready to exchange from October 31. On November 2, we have an email stating that the directors and the vendor need to get together to sign the contracts. We set down exchange for Friday November 3.
“Why was the closed meeting called on the evening of Thursday, November 2 when we were ready to exchange?” Ms Smith asked council.
“The general manager of this council was contacted by phone by my general manager when we found out on November 6 that we couldn’t exchange. The general manager did not want to speak to him. All of our calls back to the real estate agent were ignored.”
Ms Smith addressed Glenn Handford directly, saying that the general manager is answerable to the mayor and councillors, and asked why the councillors did not know the facts of the matter.
In his address to council, Mr Vorgias expressed concern about confidentially, claiming somebody from MidCoast Council had rung Nambucca Shire Council, the area in which the Macksville-based business is currently located. Ms Smith said that the economic development officer of the Nambucca Shire Council was questioned “all about MidCoast Trucks and what they do, and are they leaving you and so forth.”
Mr Vorgias said that Nambucca Shire Council contacted MidCoast Trucks as a result of MidCoast Council’s inquiries, and that it resulted in “undue stress and undue concern to Nambucca Shire Council at the possibility of losing the business.
“We’ve started some procedures legally to find out disclosure on what the hell happened,” Mr Vorgias said.
However Midcoast Trucks state they are still willing to work with council.
We’ve started some procedures legally to find out disclosure on what the hell happened.
“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to move forward if there’s any way we can probably move forward to obtaining the Masters building back,” Mr Vorgias said.
“We’ve got the desire, we’ve got the capital, and we’ve got the product delivery for the community. If this moment were to pass it would be a loss, not only for us but for this community.”
“The economic value add to your community of MidCoast Trucks coming into that site is value added four,” Ms Smith said.
“For example, if my payroll is $600,000, you multiply that by four to see the local economic payment back into your economy.
“So $24 million per year, when it’s at its highest level, which is what we are hoping on in our business plan, that will bring $24 million per annum year in, year out, for your economy,” she said.
“The reason we wanted the Masters site is because it is economically viable to our business, but also because of the speed of opening of a business.
“You cannot build that site for the amount of money that we were able to purchase it, and have it operational by January.”
“We are ready to operate and open.”