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Peter Bond Line energy

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established 1996 and listed 2006; 110 employees; market capitalisation: $1.68 billion 1. Peter Bond made his first million dollars selling muck. It was dirty, discarded muck, unwanted because at the time nobody thought you could sell it.

But Bond had other ideas.

In 1985, the truck driver's son from Camden, in western Sydney, returned from a couple of weeks' holiday to find that his partner had shut

down their freight business and sold all the gear. Fifteen thousand dollars in debt and with no job, Bond needed an idea fast. He knew his ex- partner had the contract to remove coal spilled during unloading operations at the Balmain coal loader. He also knew where the coal was dumped. And he had exactly what was needed to turn this dumped filth into a buck: a sharp mind, the capacity for hard yakka, and a rake.

Bond, better known today as the founder and majority owner of $1.65 billion alternative- energy prospect Linc Energy, had found his opportunity.

'In those days they used to clean up coal from the coal loaders and take it away,' Bond recalls. 'They considered it contaminated and wouldn't load it back onto the ship. My former partner was taking it from the Balmain coal loader and dumping it at a quarry at Kemps Creek.' So Bond asked the quarry manager if he could take the coal. Unsurprisingly, the manager said yes.

Suddenly the broke kid had a product. Now he just needed a market. 'I knew hospitals used coal, and I knew brick plants used it,' he says, so he got on the phone. 'I'm talking to this guy trying to convince him to buy it, and he obviously knew I didn't know what I was talking about. He basically told me to f*** off and learn the business before I rang him back.' Bond had a head start, having worked for a couple of years as a trainee metallurgist at BHP's Port Kembla steelworks.

He raked up the muck himself and found he had 1000 tonnes. 'I figured about 17 bucks a tonne would see me clear.' Finally, he found a buyer. 'When I got the cheque, I thought, This is the business I want to be in.'

Today that business is like no other.

Bond wants to use the gas locked in the vast underground coal seams in Queensland to make super-clean diesel and aviation fuels. Linc Energy is worth more than $1 billion and his personal stake, a fraction over 50 per cent, makes him one of the most successful of the new energy and resources entrepreneurs. When this book went to press, Bond's demonstration plant at Chinchilla was on the verge of being activated and, if he can get diesel flowing cheaply, efficiently and consistently, then Bond might just become Australia's richest man.

Turning underground coal gas into liquid fuels is a long way from raking up spilled coal. But every good story requires that the hero overcome adversity before he earns his reward. The week Bond was paid for that 1000 tonnes he raked together, the Maritime Services Board put up the Balmain coal-loading contract for tender. Bond bid for it and won, beating all rivals—including the erstwhile colleague who'd left him unemployed. It was a start, but it wasn't long before the young man got his next lesson in business.

Some of his clients couldn't help noticing that their coal-hauler looked as if he lived in his truck. 'They said, "We love your cheap coal, but can you go and get your own house?" ' he recalls. 'I was borrowing their front-end loader and borrowing a cup of milk . . . it was secondhand, shoestring stuff. They said, "Can you go and get your own coal yard and actually have a business?" ' Once again, Bond's talent for seeing value in the discarded came to the fore.

That first yard was an abandoned site next to the coal rail depot at Glenleigh, near Camden. The site belonged to the now defunct Clutha coal company. So Bond spoke to someone at Clutha and got the go-ahead to move in.

'Unbeknown to me, it wasn't actually their land or their coal, but they'd been asked to get rid of the coal because it was a fire hazard,' he says. So Bond made the coal dump his own. 'That's where I used to park the truck and screen the coal, and that's where I made my empire.' Like the quarry at Kemps Creek, this corner of wasteland was covered with a deep layer of the kind of dross

Peter Bond could turn into a quid. 'They had actually dumped quite a few thousand tonnes of coal there, and it was quite good quality,' Bond says. 'I started with a rake in 1985, and by 1989 I was a millionaire.'

But there was no posturing. In fact, Bond let the milestone pass in silence: 'I paid the house off and the car, and there was money in the bank, but I didn't even tell my wife.'

Bond decided washing coal was the next step in expanding his business and that the way to do it was with a mobile coal washery, which he says was the first of its kind in Australia. Maybe that's

why it almost sent

I started with a rake in him broke again. 'Id 1985, and by 1989 I was a basically bet the mil- millionaire. lion bucks I'd made on it and we were just breaking even,' Bond says. The problem with breaking even was that he had debt—and it was the early 1990s. The credit crisis arrived, complete with double-digit interest rates. It was a period and an experience that permanently coloured Bond's view of Australian banks. 'Out of that, I have no loyalty to any bank,' he says. 'The only exception, and it's going to sound strange, was General Electric. I was in debt to GE Money [the company's banking arm], and they were the

only ones who stood by me. Each time they refinanced me they did it without kicking me with another $50,000 or whatever. So the biggest and supposedly most brutal bank in the world was in fact the best.'

With the help of the Americans Bond clung on, trying to wring a profit from his coal wash- eries. Then came the really big break: a telegram from an old mate at BHP.

'He'd seen an article about my mobile plants,' Bond says. 'They signed me up to a contract to wash the coal at Appin colliery, behind Wollongong.' A year later, Bond and his new business partner were making a couple of million dollars a year in profit.

They bought a couple of coal mines, including one for about $3 million that they later sold for many times that sum. But by 2002, Bond had had enough. He sold everything and went and sat on a beach in Fiji. He was seeking enlightenment. For a time he wore a Buddhist monk's saffron robe, but he drew the line at shaving his head. He listened to self-actualisation gurus like Anthony Robbins. He listened to Donald Trump, too. Back at home, he got the odd phone call. People wanted him to turn assets around.

Eventually, someone brought him the Linc story. He discussed it with his wife and she told him to go for it.

If all goes well, you can forget about this story. There'll be a better one about Peter Bond—the one about how he made his first billion.

Peter Gosnell

golden rules

Know your outcome and what success looks like before you start.

Know the basic steps to achieve that success and look at each step as a mini business plan.

Surround yourself with extraordinary people.

Back yourself and have total belief that you can achieve success.

Be passionate about what you do.

Know your exit strategy before you start.

Be generous. Leave money on the table and give back to the community.

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Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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