Businesses adapting after Northern Power Station closure

BUSINESS: Damo Versteeg, Nathan Hancock, David Versteeg, Blake Laister and Cameron Bury from Auto One Port Augusta.

BUSINESS: Damo Versteeg, Nathan Hancock, David Versteeg, Blake Laister and Cameron Bury from Auto One Port Augusta.

ONE year on from the closure of the Northern Power Station, Business Port Augusta board member David Versteeg believes local businesses that adapted to the changing market have been leading the way in Port Augusta.

Mr Versteeg, the former Chair of Business Port Augusta, said it has been a difficult year for the region, but business owners need to “keep the finger on the pulse.”

“There are definitely sectors that are still marching on very well. The ones that are charging on have been doing things slightly different,” he said.

“You may be a small corner store, but whether you like it or not, you really have to look at the way you go to market and continue to modify that to meet your customers’ needs and requirements.

“We've still got the highway and that’s our biggest asset. We get 16,000 cars a day.”

The power station had 139 employees when it officially stopped generating power, with another 250 people working at the Leigh Creek coal mine.

Mr Versteeg said many people left town to find similar work interstate, while others retired.

However, he confirmed Business Port Augusta and the Port Augusta City Council have had “exceptional communications” to help the town’s businesses move forward.

“We’re consistently talking to Council CEO John Banks and (Mayor) Sam Johnson about modifying the way we go to market and training to provide the tools for stores to go ahead,” Mr Versteeg said. 

Mr Versteeg, who owns Auto One Port Augusta, said he had to restructure his own business by changing its branding from Autopro to Auto One. 

“We went to the Auto One brand and the reason for that is a better supply line, purchasing power is a lot better and they’ve got a bit of a marketing program as well,” he said.

“We’ve been in business for about 35 years now and we have to thank all the people around this area; brand loyalty to us has been exceptional.”

Mr Versteeg believes Port Augusta has market leaders and a “myriad of success stories”, including the Ian’s Western Hotel, Saltbush Surf and Leisure and local sports stores.

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