An enduring learning curve

Mark Nelson’s current role as Contracts Manager at Tieman Tankers represents the pinnacle of an illustrious career that has spanned 45 years. He maintains that keeping up with the constantly changing needs of the road transport industry has made for a vibrant and diverse working life.

Mark Nelson began his career with Tieman as an apprentice sheet metal worker in 1975. He quickly learnt the craft of rolling and welding stainless steel sheets to produce milk tanker barrels.

His aptitude for the task was rewarded with an Apprentice of the Year accolade for sheet metal work in his graduation year at TAFE in Victoria. 

“The diversity of the company enabled a lot of separate business opportunities over the years, meaning I have enjoyed a variety of job opportunities since gaining my trade qualifications, while remaining with the same company,” Mark explains.

His list of positions includes Team Leader, Production Supervisor, a stint managing the workshop at Tieman’s Brisbane branch, Production Manager back in Melbourne, as well as Technical Manager, Contracts Estimator and Contracts Manager, which is Mark’s current title at Tieman’s Melbourne head office.

He describes the challenges involved and the massive learning curve he has been on since starting his career in the mid-1970s.

“This was the pre-computer era so I did a lot of night school work to get up to speed with the computer age in relation to engineering and best practice, as well as manufacturing, supervision and human resources.

“These additional qualifications enabled me to progress through the various roles as my career evolved within the company,” Mark says, adding that initially there was one 286 computer that he was allowed to use for two hours each week to prepare production reports.

“From an engineering perspective I’ve seen the whole spectrum of development from the early days with the manual drawings on the drawing board to the AutoCad and now the SolidWorks 3-Dimensional software we use today.
“I have particularly enjoyed working with the young engineers and shop floor trades people, imparting my knowledge and experiences.”

Mark describes his notable achievements in the Tieman business from an engineering perspective as coming up with innovations in the design of the company’s bitumen and chemical tankers, along with milk tankers, hose reel and pumping system designs.

He also mentions introducing the company to the building and supply of aviation fuel tankers and taking the lead in Commonwealth projects building fuel and water tankers for the Australian Defence Force as being other highlights of his marathon career with Tieman.

“We also build chocolate tankers which are a very complex design involving electric heating elements to keep the chocolate at the correct temperature during transit,” he elaborates, “and another innovative tanker design of Tieman is used for carrying fish harvested from fish farms in Tasmania.

In conclusion, Mark acknowledges the dynamic and innovative path Tieman has taken over the course of his career as key to his interesting and varied tenure with the company.

“As the world and the tanker market opportunities have evolved, Tieman has progressed from manufacturing products exclusively for the Australian market, to supplying products throughout the Asia and South Pacific regions, a process with which I have been heavily involved,” Mark says. “I’ve really enjoyed my career with Tieman: I’m 63 now and I reckon I probably have a few more years to go before retirement.”

Industry Icon
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.

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