February 26, 2024

Not your average aquarium: Celebrating a Sunshine Coast marvel

Advanced Aquarium Technologies’ multimillion-dollar creations offer audiences around the world an incredible experience of underwater life, but the magic all begins in a Sunshine Coast suburb.

If you find yourself visiting a large public aquarium anywhere in the world, it’s entirely possible it’s the creation of Sunshine Coast firm Advanced Aquarium Technologies.

While you enjoy the immersive experience, perhaps take a second or two to consider just what it takes to design and fabricate something that’s home to hundreds of living creatures within hundreds of thousands of litres of temperature-controlled and meticulously filtered water.

The engineering complexity and scale of its installations, and the skilled workforce required to create them, make AAT integral to the construction of these unique, high-value projects.

AAT also manufactures all of the rockwork and environmental theming that comprise a realistic underwater environment, and even ships fish around the world to stock its aquariums.

Tim Eldridge, AAT’s Chief Operating Officer, says the business has delivered more than 100 aquarium projects in 25 countries, including showcase aquariums in Vietnam, Oman, Denmark, China and Poland, plus several around Australia.

From its Queensland headquarters where the bulk of the planning, design and engineering work takes place, AAT sends technicians around the world to oversee the complex installation and testing processes needed to ensure each aquarium is the showpiece that AAT founder John Langmead intended when he started the company more than 20 years ago.

“John grew up scuba diving on the Sunshine Coast as a teenager,” Tim says. “He fell in love with the underwater world. He started working at what is now the Sea Life aquarium in Mooloolaba as soon as it opened in 1989.”

Turning his hand to project-managing aquarium constructions, John spotted a gap in the global market to provide a true end-to-end service for aquarium construction and installation.

“John invented pretty much every product and technique that we use,” Tim says. “He’s CEO and essentially the engineer-in-chief.”

A growing focus around the world on showcasing underwater ecosystems means the aquarium business is booming. AAT has established satellite offices in Hong Kong, the Philippines and the US, and owns a 30,000 square metre acrylic manufacturing plant – 18,000 square metres of which is under cover – in China.

A long-term banking relationship with NAB has smoothed the way as AAT navigates contracts and arrangements around the world of significant value and complexity.

That includes a NAB Connect facility, foreign currency accounts, letters of credit, hire-purchase and equipment loans, and access to the NAB trade and finance team for hedging currency.

The bank also provided specialist advice for doing business offshore, says NAB Senior Business Banking Manager David Fletcher, who has worked closely with AAT since 2010.

NAB’s continuity with AAT’s affairs is an invaluable asset, Tim says. “NAB knows us. They know what we do, where we do it and how we do it. That knowledge helps us do what we need to get done. And that works.”

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: March 2024

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: March 2024

25 March 2024

The NAB Rural Commodities Index increased for the fourth month in a row in February . The index increased 2.2% month on month, and is back around levels last seen in April 2023.

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: March 2024

Report