The Whiskey Project Group founded and operated by former Naval Officers Darren Schuback and Ryan Carmichael, is an Australian veteran owned business. During their naval careers both Darren and Ryan experienced incidents that were directly attributable to watercraft equipment that was not fit-for-purpose.

“We experienced incidents that occurred due to watercraft that lacked the required stability and performance in challenging sea states; we witnessed career-ending injuries occur due to sub-optimal watercraft capabilities; we experienced missions that were compromised because of retro-fitted vessels that weren’t up to the task at hand; and we saw healthy, highly trained personnel dealing with chronic injuries from the constant slamming-loads inherent in the incumbent watercraft. Our research showed this problem was a global one, with studies in the US and OK revealing similar issues with legacy military vessels, yet no one was doing anything about it.” Said The Whiskey Project Group Managing Director Darren Schuback.

So they embarked on designing and building operator-focused watercraft that provide optimal performance and protection for those who risk their lives in the maritime environment. Darren and Ryan’s core driver for their business was to create the watercraft they wish they’d had during their time as Navy Clearance Divers in Special Operations. Ryan Carmichael was also determined to ensure the ADF had a future-ready maritime platform to host the systems and sensors he spent much of his career working with when he established and commanded Australia’s first operational maritime autonomous systems unit.

“From concept to creation, our focus has been to provide Australia’s highly trained maritime operators with safer, fit-for-purpose, future-ready watercraft that will reduce risk of injury and fatigue, improve human performance and provide a competitive advantage.” Said The Whiskey Project Group Chief Operating Officer Ryan Carmichael.

Their time in the ADF was founded on the provision of service first, and this is the foundation for their business, with a number of ADF values incorporated in their businesses corporate policies.

Darren and Ryan face business challenges head on. They have diversified and grown their business, which now not only designs watercraft but following the acquisition of a manufacturing business, also builds them.  This expansion of their business has enabled them to provide clients an end-to-end supply chain for the provision of watercraft.

Less glamorous, but just as important as the watercraft product development, is the systems, processes, compliance and business administration which Darren and Ryan had to create from scratch. This provides a strong foundation for The Whiskey Project Group.

The Whiskey Project Group is strongly committed to employing veterans, offering a range of flexible working arrangements, health and fitness initiatives and training programs. The Whiskey Project Group make every effort to ensure that veteran employees are engaged in meaningful work, making the very best of their skills and knowledge, whilst working with their abilities.

Darren and Ryan’s transition tips

“There are numerous challenges that we face as veterans transitioning from Defence into civilian life, but throughout this journey we have found extraordinary value in the training we received whilst in Defence.  Many of these skills can give veterans’ an edge as civilian entrepreneurs, particularly in the Defence Industry”.

  • PLANNING – Don’t plan in isolation, be thorough, be realistic, war game.
  • FEEDBACK – Be humble & listen – seek honest feedback and input, adjust accordingly.
  • LEAD – People first, ALWAYS.
  • VALUES – Defence Values make an amazing foundation for your business and keep you on track throughout your decision-making processes.
  • RISK ASSESS – This is a new world, test and adjust accordingly, pursue a balance.
  • TRUST – Trust your gut, for good or bad, it’s usually right.
  • RESILIENCE – Things still don’t always go as planned, remain resilient and flexible.
  • SMEs – Recognise your Subject Matter Experts and rely on them.
  • SECURITY – You all know it, you have all lived and breathed it. Adopt it and adhere to it.
  • LOGISTICS – you can’t fight a war or provide a product or service without a robust and sustainable supply chain in place.
  • RELATIONSHIPS  – Use your network, but respect it, it’s a two-way street.
  • OWNERSHIP – You will make mistakes, own them and move on.
  • EVOLVE – continue to educate and challenge yourself and your team.
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