EXCLUSIVE: HHA's Jon Kelly sacked and 'heartbroken'

BREAKING: HHA owner Jon Kelly has revealed to Big Rigs he was sacked on Monday as administrators Ferrier Hodgson announced the business was in voluntary administration.

A "heartbroken" Kelly said for the last seven months he wasn't running HHA, instead he was "shipped" over to WA to work full time and when he provided McAleese with a plan to turn the business around they ignored it.

"I've been copping an absolute hiding in the media the last few days with the administration of HHA," he said.

"And everyone associates HHA with Jon Kelly."

Kelly said about 18 months ago he identified HHA needed an equity partner to help.

"I selected McAleese based on what I thought was going to be a fruitful and long lasting relationship with their depot locations and their fleet size and how we complemented each other's business," he said.

"And the fact they were a publicly listed company and had what I thought was sensational balance sheet strength.

"And unfortunately with the downturn in iron ore and the downturn in oil and gas it's been a bit of a perfect storm. 

"And in December last year, I was getting pretty cranky, after McAleese took over and I was screaming for a restructure, saying 'guys you need to realise this work is going to stop and it's going to stop in a big way we need to look at depot consolidation we need to look at asset sales and right side this business'.

"And they didn't agree with me, so much so that they shipped me across to WA and I've been based in WA since December full time and HHA's been run by McAleese management for the last seven months.

"What people don't realise, is we've got a McAleese head of finance in our business, we've got a McAleese accountant in our business and we've got a McAleese CEO of operations running our business…so Jon Kelly has not been running HHA for the last seven months and Jon Kelly has provided McAleese with the plan to restructure the business over seven months ago and fix this problem and it was never ever followed, it was ignored.

"Ferriers came into the business in February, under instruction from McAleese because they were concerned about their position and again Ferriers confirmed what Jon Kelly was saying seven months ago."

Kelly said following that information McAleese then "sat on their hands and did nothing".

"We gave them the treasure map, told them how to find the treasure, then they went looking for the treasure without the map and went around and around and around in circles."

"When all they had to do was follow the treasure map that I supplied and that Ferriers supplied."

"So people can point the finger at me and say I'm an a***hole and say I'm a pr**k, but at the end of the day it's very hard to come punching out of your corner when you're in the sin bin.

"It's broken my heart"

"The funny part about it is I had a meeting with the administrator on Monday and rightfully so I was very upset, because again I gave them the paperwork on how to fix this and I was very professional in my approach and I wasn't sort of carrying on like a two bob watch. 

"And ah the administrator went through what his plans were and at the end of the meeting he terminated my employment effective immediately.

"Which is just unbelievable, like how do they do that to the founding managing director of the company."

Kelly said no one had been informed of his termination including staff and customers and yet he was the one working behind the scenes on the sale to ensure the company gets the best possible price to ensure staff receive their entitlements.

"So it just makes me sick to the core, the way these tactics have been played."

Kelly said McAleese would be accountable in a court of law for their actions as he had the same rights to legal recourse.

"And to their comment, go their hardest."

"I am working very, very hard with a couple of interested parties in the business, and I'm confident that there will be a deal."

But he warned there will be job losses and a restructure, which was what he proposed seven months ago.

Read more in the next edition of Big Rigs.


In this interview in 2014, the days following the announcement that he was selling half of Heavy Haulage Australia to McAleese, Jon Kelly was positive about the future and even laughed off claims the business wasn't doing well.  



EARLIER: HHA Administrator's Ferrier Hodgson speak to Big Rigs about what's next for HHA.

Listen to the interview with Ferrier Hodgson Partner Brendan Richards below.

HEAVY Haulage Australia boss Jon Kelly has told Big Rigs it was not his decision to put the business into voluntary administration.

Mr Kelly declined to comment further at this time, however it seems like business is as normal while administrators work out the best course of action.

While it's too early to tell if there will be job losses, Big Rigs saw HHA trucks on the road only this morning.

Yesterday the news broke that the business had gone into voluntary administration.

Now administrators Ferrier Hodgson are advertising the business, which has a group turnover of $50 million, for sale.

"Urgent expressions of interest are invited for the businesses and assets of Heavy Haulage Australia Pty Limited and associated entities (HHA) (Administrators Appointed)," the advert states.

Assets include a well-maintained fleet of about 55 prime movers, 120 heavy haulage trailers, 15 cranes and 45 pilot cars and light commercials.

Expressions of interest are to be lodged by 4pm Friday.

HHA has depots in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Beaudesert, Port Hedland, Perth and Darwin.

Established in 1999, the business is regarded as an industry leader specialising in 4000-8000 tonne haulage movements for infrastructure, mining and special projects.


EARLIER: MCALEESE Limited, which owns 50% of Heavy Haulage Australia, is now considering legal recourse against Heavy Haulage Australia owners.

This comes as Ferrier Hodgson announce HHA has been placed into voluntary administration.

"McAleese Group is considering its options for legal recourse against the vendor (and associated parties) of the company's shareholding in HHA Group, in connection with the sale process and conduct after that time," McAleese said in an ASX statement.

"In light of the sustained poor market conditions in the oil and gas and infrastructure sectors and HHA Group's inability to support the high fixed costs of its lease arrangements, McAleese Group concluded that further investment in HHA Group is unlikely to deliver an acceptable financial return and has withdrawn working captial support," the statement said.

McAleese now expects a $17million blow to it's financial results for this financial year relating to loans, accrued interest and other money owed from HHA Group to the company.

"HHA Group's debts are entirely non-recourse to McAleese Group and as a result the company does not consider that it has any further financial exposure relating to its investment in HHA Group."

Comment has been sought from Jon Kelly.

BREAKING: Heavy Haulage Australia (HHA) owned by well-known TV identity Jon Kelly has gone into voluntary administration.

Ferrier Hodgson partners Mr Brendan Richards, Mr John Lindholm, and Mr Tim Michael have been appointed Voluntary Administrators of the high-profile, heavy haulage logistics specialist.

This comes as the business sold a 50% stake of the business to McAleese in November last year.

Established in 1999, HHA specialises in 4 to 8,000 tonne haulage movements for infrastructure, mining and special projects.

The company is a recognised industry leader covering many facets including, transportation, cranes, electrical wire, haulage consultancy, storage services, SPMT trailers, heavy haulage fleet leasing and specialist haulage services for the oil and gas, power, rail, refinery and infrastructure sectors.




HHA was also a prominent sponsor of V8 Supercars and the subject of the 'Megatruckers' series featured on Foxtel's A&E Channel.

The decision to go into voluntary administration has been made in the best interests of protecting the considerable assets of the company and maximising the prospect for it to continue as a going concern.

Mr Richards, Head of Ferrier Hodgson's Logistics practice, expressed his disappointment in seeing another high-profile Australian transport business in distress.

"This is indicative of the downturn we are seeing in the resources sector and the knock on effect it has and will continue to have on the transport industry. Unfortunately, HHA has a very high cost base and when revenues are challenged, it is left with little room in which to manoeuvre."

"We will be working hard to try and achieve a strong outcome for all of the parties involved, but this is a tough time for Australia's transport industry and heavy haulage businesses in particular."

In the short-term, Ferrier Hodgson will continue to trade the business as normal while a buyer is sought and arrangements are made to protect the interests of the employees, customers, suppliers and creditors.

A clear strategy and direction for the business is expected to be established within the week.

EARLIER: Back in May McAleese appointed Ferrier Hodgson to review the activities of HHA after the company announced a voluntary exemption from trading following the news that it's biggest client Atlas Iron was stopping production.

In a statement back then McAleese said the review presented options for improving operations and balance sheet of HHA.

McAleese loaned HHA $4million of working capital since December 31.

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