Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year
Darren Schuback and Ryan Carmichael

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 also 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.

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