It started with a phone call. After 30 years in the mining sector, Luke Sheil had watched thousands of tonnes of concrete poured underground and he knew there had to be an easier way.
The Camden based inventor started calling around and found an industrial chemist to work with him to develop a faster setting, more flexible concrete replacement.
The quest eventually ended after a spill in testing cascaded the trial product all over Luke’s work gear.
“I knew we finally had the right mix when my clothes went incredibly hard and stiff,” Luke said. “I was over the moon, but I’ve never been able to wear them again.”
Luke’s patented machine pump creates a new polymer product – Agglok 68 - which turns sediment into a substance with the hardness of concrete and the flexibility of hard rubber in just a few hours.
Once he had developed the initial product and invested in passing regulations approval processes, Luke began to look for further financial support to expand his young company.
After visiting a Business Connect advisor, Luke successfully applied for a $100,000 Building Partnerships grant from Jobs for NSW.
“Our Jobs for NSW advisor was extremely helpful. We couldn’t have done it without them. Once the paperwork was in the rest of the process was really encouraging,” Luke said.
“The funding meant that we could get the project off the ground and start to see some income coming in, after outlaying a lot of personal funding.”
Since receiving the grant Underground Roads’ have refined their technology by rolling it out in two mines. Now, purchase orders are flooding in for more work in other building sites.
Over the next few years Luke plans on targeting NSW’s mining industry in the Illawarra and bringing additional machines online to expand capacity.