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People of Sullair – simply the best

The essential driver to successful service delivery is having good people you can count on to represent the organisation. Sullair equipment has a strong reputation for reliability, durability, and the capacity to work well in diverse and harsh environments – and funnily enough – our people do too.

Sullair has approximately 130 employees across the country, who are all united in a common goal – to keep many of the country’s most essential and critical industries operational and support them to drive their growth and future success. It requires a vast range of skill sets to make this happen, from admin, accounts, sales engineers, and branch managers, to field service techs and leading hand technicians; each individual brings their own history, experience, and intention to their role in pursuit of successful outcomes for their customers and the company.

Deb Holst is General Manager of Human Resources at Sullair and since starting in the role in early 2021 has continued to be inspired by how embedded the organisation’s values actually are in its culture. “Of all the organisations I’ve worked with, Sullair is an exception – I’ve seen more people willing to go the extra mile to support each other than anywhere else”, Deb explains. “Some of that’s about hiring the right people and then holding people to account, but the respect that goes with that in terms of trust and communication is about them. It’s about doing what they say they’re going to do – we do the right thing, and we operate with integrity”. The company’s values of trust, respect, integrity, and a pioneering spirit really drive the behaviour of employees, which is consistently evidenced by the kind of feedback that comes from customers.

Sullair’s Managing Director Fred Funnell was appointed to the role eleven years ago, after almost two decades in the oil industry in a range of roles across Australia and the Asia Pacific. During his time there have been many highlights including the expansion to an oil free range, thanks to the successful integration with Hitachi, and growth events such as the recent development of the Townsville office. People development however has always been a key highlight. “We have very engaged people who want to make a difference”, Fred explains. “You try to select and retain those people that deliver but also find values-led people who know what the right thing to do is. It’s really satisfying to watch people get promoted through the organisation and fully develop their experience and capabilities”. Deb Holst has a similar opinion on the values-led approach. “Sullair’s values are visible in many places. There’s a very high level of respect in the organisation and being a values-driven organisation is supportive in developing a good culture. Leadership is also crucial – that we have people who are demonstrating the values and role modelling that values-driven approach to others”.

Shael Esler is Sullair’s National Service Business Manager and has been with the company for more than a decade. She loves the broad reaching nature of her role and its impact on the people she works with. “We have a great culture at Sullair – and a strong culture around development of both products and people. My role is very customer focussed but it also focuses on our people and making sure they’re supported so they can offer the best level of service to customers. There’s a deeper level to this also which is around staff coaching and mentoring to ensure they’re constantly upskilled and they’ve got the tools they need to deliver the best service possible”. Shael gets a lot of satisfaction out of her work. “Our industry is so diverse and there are so many different sectors you can move in and learn about that we support”, she says. “I love the travel and the chance to get out and meet people but honestly, achieving customer and staff satisfaction is the best part”.

The range of experiences that Sullair employees bring to the table is what keeps the company’s culture so dynamic and fresh. Rhys Marshall started as an apprentice with Sullair in 2019 and has now completed his apprenticeship. The success of trainees like Rhys in some part motivated development of the Sullair Apprenticeships Program. “We started it in 2021, with recognition that resourcing is hard, and it can be difficult to get people with the service tech skills we need”, explains Deb. “Young apprentices bring different perspectives to the company. They inject some young blood from a different generation and that diversity is really important”. It’s not just the apprentices that benefit from the program either. The vast knowledge base of more experienced employees is also being utilised through this program. “It gives some of the guys who’ve got good skills the opportunity to impart their knowledge and they really enjoy the chance to coach, mentor and bring new people through”.

Young employees like Rhys, along with more recent additions to the team, including Gemma Lancaster and Geoff Nevard are vital to creating a rich and evolving culture, by bringing new perspectives and approaches to Sullair’s knowledge base. While legacy employees like Brett Dunlop (20 years and loving it), Mike Buckles (30 years in the field) and Wayne Liddell (30 years strong) are testament to the fact that finding a role that fits, and being supported and encouraged within it can be career defining for the individual and fortifying for the company.

It’s undeniable that the absolute key to Sullair’s success is the strength, passion, and commitment of its workforce – a fact that MD Fred Funnell and the leadership team are continually proud of and grateful for. So we leave the final words for 2022 with Fred. “I would like to wish a safe and happy summer break to everyone, especially with the increased risks around road, water, and sun safety. My sincere thanks to everyone on our team for their contribution during their year. Amidst a range of supply chain and systems issues, and continued COVID interruptions and more, they’ve made the business better by tackling these challenges one by one to satisfy our customers”. 

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