Expo Spotlight with James Lantry

One of the first things you will notice when you look at the Australian Pavilion are the rich tones of Australian hardwood which blanket the forecourt walls and then reach high into the cloud-like canopy. It’s a visual reminder of Australia’s natural beauty, but also gives us a moment to reflect on Australia’s innovation and commitment to new sustainable technologies. This month we sat down with Chief Operating Officer of The Hermal Group, James Lantry to discover how the Hermal Group is making a global impact in this space.  We also quickly discovered that James has a wicked sense of humour, as you'll also find out when you read about The Hermal Group’s prestigious world winning whisky Sullivans Cove.

Q. What is The Hermal Group, where are you located and how many staff do you employ?
A. The Hermal group is a privately owned family group.  We have a diverse group of companies and investments ranging from distillery to a marina development business, renewable energy businesses, timber wholesaler, timber engineering and a number of others.  Hermal also operates and provides funding to the family charitable trust.  Across its companies Hermal employs over 150 staff nationally, some more interesting than others.

Q. How long have you worked for The Hermal Group? And what does your typical day look like?
A. Two words, too long (James travels 2 hours to and from work every day!). I have worked for the Hermal Group for 7 years and I am the Chief Operating Officer a role I have effectively held since joining (called many things before now and some that can’t be printed but has been the same role since, I joined).  

Q. Tell us about The Hermal Group’s involvement with Expo Dubai 2020?
A. Hermal’s owner Mr Ron Goldschlager decided, after meeting with Justin in the Australian Consulate in Dubai, that he would provide the timber for the Australian pavilion at the world expo. Mr Goldschlager’s aspiration in sponsoring the project is to showcase the beautiful cross laminated plantation hardwood timber that is grown in Australia and provided as an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) product into the world market.  

Q. What are you hoping to achieve through your involvement?
A. In show casing the CLT made from plantation hardwood we would provide international development and building consortiums with an appreciation of the beauty and durability of Australian hardwood timber.  We would also like to lead the work in the design and manufacture of CLT and glulam products developed from plantation hardwood timbers.

Our efforts will also be focussed on attracting the attention of designers and architects as they lead the way in incorporating the beautiful timbers and exacting timber based systems in their designs. Noting the pressure for the building industry to develop more sustainable development approaches and materials, the net zero carbon emission from such timber products will also hopefully attract the practical environmentally minded leader or builder/designer. 

Q. What do you see as the biggest benefit of doing business with Australia? 
A. Australians are good people that deliver a genuine product at a consistent and high standard.  

Q. Tell us about the terrific work you are doing in partnership with Monash University to generate energy from wood and other waste products.
A. Monash Professor Sankar is a legend. We have been working with Monash University now for 5 years in developing bio energy fuels from waste materials specifically wood waste. In this process we have also been looking at further developments out of the pyrolysis process including high value hydrocarbons.  

Q. Congratulations on Sullivans Cove Distillery being the winner of world best single malt whisky. Do you get to enjoy a glass of your fabulous whisky at the end of a day?

A. I wish I could, ahead of answering this question let me tell you a story….

My wonderful partner was making a pepper sauce to go on a nice steak she was cooking. While cooking it she realised the sauce needed brandy and couldn’t find any in the cupboard.  So grabbed a bottle of Sullivan’s Cove whisky. It happened to be one very special bottle TD0217, but I’ll come back to that.

So, the recipe called for 300mls of brandy, but 300mls of whisky went into the sauce.  

I had the steak and the sauce, and it was beautiful. I then headed to bed as I had an early flight to Burnie Tasmania from Melbourne the next morning. So here is the point where I tell you I have never been able to drink spirits, always felt a general unwellness that progressed quickly to being very unwell. The next morning after not having the best night’s sleep I headed to the airport. As the morning progressed, I started to feel worse and worse.  And then in Burnie I ended up in the corner of the office curled up feeling worse by the minute. 

I called my partner to talk through what had make me sick. This is when my partner told me she had added 300ml of whisky to the sauce.  So now at least I knew why I wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t give it much thought as to what whisky went into the sauce. However, later in the day I started to think about the whisky. What was the whisky that went into the sauce? So, I called my partner again hoping it was the Chivers, but she informed me it was the Sullivans. Now there are a few different bottles of Sullivans in the cupboard, but my partner explained to me it was the blue bottle. My heart skipped a beat as the only blue bottle in the cupboard was the unopened bottle of TD0217. The French Oak barrel whisky that won Sullivans its first world’s best single malt whisky.

Now I don’t know how much it is worth, but a lot and quite honestly I haven’t looked due to not wanting to know. So, half that bottle was poured into a wonderful pepper sauce and as I get very ill from just two nips you can image just how sick I was after 300mls of whisky that didn’t have the alcohol burnt off in the cooking process!

So back to your original question  - do I enjoy a nip, the answer is on a rare occasion