Company Profile: GMA Garnet Group
- Read Time: 8 mins
An Interview with Andreas Horn, GMA General Manager and WAGBA Committee Member
For September’s edition of InTouch, GMA General Manager Andreas Horn has graciously set aside some time for a short online interview for this member profile of InTouch.
Andreas first joined GMA Garnet as their GM Global Mining & Production in April 2022 and started working for GMA’s Perth office from his home Germany. In late October of 2022, he received his Australian visa and relocated to Perth shortly thereafter.
Before he joined GMA he worked as a Vice President in Technics/Energy, as well as a Vice President in Operations for about 7.5 years at K + S Group, a Germany based global potash and salt mining company. That is where he first met fellow WAGBA committee member, Gerrit Goedecke, the Managing Director of K + S Salt Australia.
Despite so, Andreas was no stranger to Perth, having come to the city quite regularly even before then, when he served as one of the directors of allmineral Australia from 2003 to 2013, a German producer for mineral processing equipment.
In 2023 GMA Garnet celebrates its 40th anniversary, which is a remarkable milestone. Can you share with our readers what GMA is about, the company itself, where you operate and what makes GMA stand out compared to other companies in the mining/minerals industry?
"So, GMA was founded 40 years ago – on one end we are a mining company: we mine garnet in Port Gregory, Western Australia, and we also operate a garnet mine in Montana in the US. Not only are we focused on the mining side of things, but we are also a vertically integrated company. We manage the entire value chain – from the mining phase and extending to the final delivery to end- users who utilize our garnets for either abrasive blasting or waterjet cutting. This means we have a global sales and distribution network to be able to serve our clients. We are a global leader in the garnet market with a market share of about 60%, and we serve around 6000 clients in about 100 different countries. A significant amount of our products come out of our mine in Port Gregory. Additionally, we also get garnet through an offtake agreement from business partner in South Africa, and also through mining in Montana. What is also unique is that GMA operates a couple of reprocessing and recycling plants, so we take back the used garnet from abrasive blasting and waterjet cutting and we reprocess and recycle them into a premium product to be used again. In fact, we are the only one in the garnet industry who offers this service."
How do you expect the company direction to develop in the future?
"We have developed a significant growth strategy – part of that is that we are looking to replace other abrasives that are used in the market through products that are engineered blends out of the garnet that comes out of Western Australia, and the hard rock garnet that is mined in Montana. Through this we are able to blend unique products with very special properties for very special applications, and this allows us to compete with other abrasive companies and to further increase our market share by a significant amount."
"The benefits of WAGBA, as I see it, is its growing network of business professionals."
Please fill me in on the reasons why and how GMA Garnet joined WAGBA, and how long has it been since then?
"GMA was founded by a German entrepreneur – Torsten Ketelsen, who is also a member of WAGBA and part of the committee. He was the one who basically started the business within the sales and distribution industry, when he started selling the garnet from Western Australian mines into the Middle East and Europe. He’s German, so of course he has lots of connections in Germany, and so he started the GMA Europe business in Hamburg. Through this connection between Germany and Western Australia, he brought GMA into WAGBA. And while I am not quite sure how long GMA has been with WAGBA, my guess is that it's definitely been quite some time – maybe not for 40 years – but definitely for a pretty long time."
What specific opportunities derived for GMA Garnet from its association with WAGBA and the German business community in Western Australia, especially with the company having a German identity through Torsten Ketelsen as well?
"The benefits of WAGBA, as I see it, is its growing network of business professionals. This network not only extends to Germany, as implied by the name WAGBA, but also forms a significant presence within Western Australia. There are plenty of business opportunities that people can generate out of being a member of WAGBA, especially through participating in the different events WAGBA organizes throughout the year."
Has GMA garnet engaged in any business collaborations with other members through WAGBA during this time?
"Personally, I must say that I haven’t been with GMA long enough to answer that, but I would assume that there have been lots of contacts made through WAGBA for the benefit of the company."
What do you see as GMA’s benefits of being a premium member of WAGBA for so many years?
"The biggest advantage is really networking from my point of view, being a part of this West Australian-German business community, and also supporting German culture in WA. As you probably know, we have all these events, including some where we offer prizes to German-learning students as well. We also have a couple of other events that are more oriented towards culture rather than business, and I think this is an important part of WAGBA as well. There was a strong focus on business, which is fine, but there are also other activities that are associated with promoting German Language in schools that makes you appreciate WAGBA for what it is."
Yes definitely, as stated in WAGBA’s newly established mission statement: ‘Connecting People in Business and Culture’, during the strategy workshop as well!
From your perspective, what distinguishes WAGBA as a valuable business association, and what advice would you give to other companies considering joining?
"Probably the best advice I can give is really making use of the big business network that WAGBA has to offer. There are members in WAGBA that come from many different industries and businesses, so whenever you go to a WAGBA event you have the opportunity to make new contacts, to get in touch with people who are in the same business – potentially suppliers or business partners – this is a huge opportunity from my point of view that WAGBA offers to its members."
Are there any plans for GMA Garnet and WAGBA that you are looking forward to working on?
"When I think of WAGBA and GMA, I think about the business network here in WA and growing this network. Personally, as I just relocated to Perth less than a year ago, this is also a huge opportunity to get to know people and to really grow my network here within WA; but from a GMA perspective, it’s not just about growing the network, but rather keeping in contact and keeping in touch with clients and suppliers as well so this is definitely what we are focusing on with WAGBA right now."
Thank you to Andreas Horn, GMA General Manager for sharing his experience with WAGBA.