In early January, I phoned Mr. Damien Pearson, general manager, North America, for Rubicon Water, and said, “What do you think about our Irrigation Leader magazine working with Rubicon to co-sponsor a trip to Australia for irrigation district managers?” Damien’s response was a very Australian “no worries,” and “no worries” it truly was. Once the dates for the trip of February 20–26 were decided, and two door prizes for the trip awarded during our Irrigation Leader Workshop held in Phoenix on January 28, the American involvement in planning and logistics was greatly reduced. All credit for such a wonderfully successful and educational tour is due to Rubicon Water and its excellent people. From the time we Americans stepped foot in Australia, Rubicon was there. Mr. Tony Oakes and his very accomplished wife, Kay, met us at the airport, helped track down our participants, and gathered up our luggage. They drove us to our hotel and helped us check in. Such down-to-earth, friendly, funny, and disarming people, it was a bit of a surprise to members of our group a day or so later when they realized Mr. Oakes is actually one of the founding members and very top people of Rubicon. By then, everyone was on such familiar and friendly terms with Tony that it was too late for proper respect. Tony spent nearly five days driving and touring our group from our beginning point of Melbourne, to Shepparton, to all the irrigation districts, and to our final destination of Griffith, where we boarded a flight for Sydney. What we saw and learned during those days underscored my personal belief in the ability of individuals to face seemingly insurmountable challenges and create solutions. When Australia experienced its epic drought, Tony and his colleagues put their heads together, formed Rubicon, and created technology that leads the global industry of surface irrigation water management. Over 20,000 canal gates later, Rubicon continues to innovate new products and software and lead the industry. What is the secret of its success? It is the “can-do, anythingis-possible, no-worries” attitude that is so pervasive in the culture of the company.
The hospitality and graciousness of our Australian hosts cannot be overstated. A very special thank you is due to all the tremendous Rubicon Water people for being such great ambassadors of their company and country. Thank you for your time, effort, and expense in showing us the solutions you have developed and for reminding us Americans that anything is possible.
To our readers, we hope you enjoy reading this issue of Irrigation Leader magazine and learning about Australia. We intend for the magazine to help organize and sponsor an international trip each year. Our next destination will be New Zealand in February 2017. All who wish to participate are welcome. Please look for additional details in this and upcoming issues of Irrigation Leader
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.