Jason left Murgon State High school on his 16th birthday in 1993 to start work as a “floor boy” in the nearby South Burnett Meat Works.
In April 2016, PT Elders Indonesia promoted him to Operations Director of their western standard abattoir, beef distribution business and 8,000 head feedlot in Lampung, southern Sumatera.
He takes over these roles from Dick Slaney, sharing leadership of the Elders Indonesia business with Endro Susilo, at a time of unprecedented change in the Indonesian beef industry. Fortunately for Elders, few people are better qualified to carry the business forward through unchartered waters of Indian beef imports, skyrocketing Australian cattle prices and a chaotic tangle of Indonesian government policies.
When any company needs to fill a top management position for a complex group of businesses it is always a challenge to get the right person to match the skill set required. When the job happens to be in a foreign country with a different language, a different regulatory environment, constantly changing government policies and totally different cultural and religious sensitivities, the degree of difficulty in finding the right person increases by the power of 10.
Jason is a very calm person, quietly spoken and one who engages his brain before expressing an opinion. He’s cool under pressure. These attributes are very well received in Indonesian culture ensuring that his relationships in his private and business life are both friendly and respectful. Combine this with his thorough knowledge of the business and he is the right man at the right time to take on this new role.
After 7 years working in various abattoirs in a wide variety of roles from Teys Brothers in South Australia to Lakes Creek (Consolidated Meat Group) in Rockhampton, Jason switched tack to manage 800 dry sows in a piggery near his hometown of Murgon from 2000 to early 2004. In February 2004 he was offered a job in Indonesia and started shortly after as plant manager for Col Lewis who was leasing the abattoir in the Agricultural University in Bogor (IPB ) located inside the university complex in West Java. He stayed for the next two and a half years.
In late 2006 PT Elders Indonesia bought Col Lewis’s operation where they were already conducting a custom kill for their “Sterling Beef” branded product. Jason stayed on with Elders for about 4 months before accepting a consulting position with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) under Patrick Underwood. In this new role Jason was responsible for a wide range of duties including butcher and slaughterman training, animal welfare training, wet market and local abattoir upgrades as well as commissioning and installation of more than 100 Mark 1 slaughter boxes all accross Indonesia. These tasks required extensive travel to remote areas all over Indonesia providing Jason with a deep appreciation of Indonesian culture.
Jason married in 2005 and credits the assistance of his wife and the demands of his MLA role for his fluent Bahasa Indonesia language skills. When he started as a consultant, his Indonesian language was marginal so his wife Yuli would translate all of his training presentations into Indonesian which he would then deliver by reading the notes even though he didn’t understand all of the language he was speaking. This pressure to delivery quality training ensured that he very quickly became fluent and was soon able to complete his presentations with the full knowledge of what he was saying!
PT Elders Indonesia employed Jason once again in 2010 as Operations Manager for the IPB abattoir, not long before the live export trade was closed by the Australian government in June 2011. Thankfully, for the Australian industry, the foresight of Dick Slaney, General Manager of PT Elders Indonesia at the time, had led him to complete the incredibly complex and delicate task of officially introducing percussion stunning to Indonesia. This process included numerous and lengthy negotiations, trials and demonstrations leading to the formal acceptance of this stunning method as Halal approved by the highest religious authorities in Indonesia. Add to this the equally complex negotiations for multiple government approvals and licenses for the importation of the stunning devices and the appropriate ammunition. This formal acceptance of Halal stunning and import permits for stunners and ammunition was completed in 2009. The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) established in August and September of 2011 was the primary tool with which the industry reopened the trade. One of the critical features of ESCAS was the use of stunning so there was an urgent need for training of local butchers in the art of humane stunning.
Jason and his team developed and delivered a professional training package at the Elders IPB abattoir where every butcher in Indonesia with a certificate of competence to use a stunning device has earned his ticket. To date PT Elders Indonesia have trained more than 220 people in the proficient use of cash magnum stunners and HALAL slaughterman certification in cooporation with the Indonesia’s peak HALAL authority (MUI). This training is ongoing with Elders Indonesia planning to expand the training offered into other areas.
The Elders abattoir at IPB is certified ISO 9001, HACCP, NKV (Indonesian certification of the highest standard facility), fully Halal certified and was the first abattoir to be auditied and approved under ESCAS. The arrangement between the Agricultural University who owns the abattoir and Elders, who lease it, is that various faculties at the University have access to the facility to teach their students meat technology, Quality Assurance systems and a range of food safety training programs.
PT Elders Indonesia evolved their Sterling brand into Elders Classic Cuts and finally launched their current “Kooyong” brand in Jakarta and Bali in 2014 with close collaboration between Jason and Dick Slaney. Today, the Kooyong brand is distributed across Indonesia by Elders with a team headed by Jason. Another new initiative from Elders Indonesia is the importation of Elders Australia high-end branded products including “Killara” Black Angus beef. My cryovac of Killara ribeye is in the fridge now waiting for next Saturday’s BBQ.