EMPLOYEE STORIES – STEVE SMITH
As an enthusiastic gold prospector in his spare time, Active scoper Steve Smith appreciates the value of a ‘good find’. He believes he has that in a job that allows him to see new places and meet new people throughout South Australia.
Steve works on the SA Power Networks contract. It involves travelling around the state – from Kangaroo Island to Mt Gambier and the Mallee – while pinpointing the trees that need to be cut or removed around transmission power lines.
He’s been in the role for over six years after almost two decades running his own business.
“I used to have a radiator business but I couldn’t do that anymore because I had trouble with my back,” he explains. “Leaning over vehicles wasn’t doing me any good.”
So, he took a year off, bought a gold lease and went detecting.
“It was a bit of a hobby of mine for 12 months at Yunta. I did find 30 ounces of gold.”
And when it was time to return to the workforce, Steve sought out the assistance of his brother who was working for Active. Both of them had been in the tree trimming game together before Steve went into his own business.
“I’d previously worked as a cutter and foreman and done a lot of quoting, so I’d been there and done that before the radiator business. I spoke to my brother and there was a job going for a scoper. I thought that sounded all right.”
Steve was soon working at Mt Gambier, but the role has since taken him all over South Australia.
“I love getting ‘round the countryside. My favourite place is Kangaroo Island. The Riverland is also beautiful and Mt Gambier’s good.”
He also appreciates that the position keeps him physically fit.
“There’s a lot of walking involved. Some places are quite steep. You’ve got to get out and measure every span. Between that and the driving it’s a good combination.”
As for challenges, well probably the biggest is the wildlife.
“You can have a few run-ins with dogs. They get a bit narky and want to bite you. There’s lots of kangaroos, and then in the tall grass there’s the chance of snakes.”
On this particular day, Steve was on the lookout for tiger snakes and equipped with snake gaitors. It’s part of Active’s approach to safety that Steve appreciates, noting a lot has changed in the industry since he first worked in it 35 years ago.
“In those days there was no scoper. You just got there and worked out what needed to be done. You’d be out in a paddock cutting trees at a 45-degree angle from the powerlines. Out around the big transmission lines you would take out hundreds of trees.
“I’ve seen all the changes and these days it’s as clear and safe as it can be. It’s certainly better than when I started.”
Meanwhile, Steve continues to appreciate a job that takes him into the great outdoors, offering variety each and every day.
“The job is good, it’s got a lot of variations. There’s the places you go, the people you meet and the guys you work with, who are great.”
As for his future, Steve says he’ll be with Active a long time yet.
“My health’s pretty good, so hopefully I’ll see out my career with them.”
Meanwhile, he still chases gold in his spare time, and loves a spot of fishing. Between work and his hobbies, it’s all about the catch and the challenge of a ‘good find’.