’s new CEO for Australia and New Zealand Ben James has announced his executive team with a commitment to double down on the company’s sporting, defence and law enforcement customers. Mick Ahern, formerly NIOA’s Lethality Program Director, is the new General Manager of Weapons & Munitions, heading up a raft of new appointments which also includes Owen Paulson as General Manager of Operations. Paulson joins NIOA after an extensive career including global security operations, expansive program management and strategic leadership roles in addition to a key role in support of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority following the devastating floods of 2010-11.

The NIOA Australia and New Zealand leadership team, effective 2 February 2023 is:

  • Mick Ahern, General Manager, Weapons & Munitions
  • Brad Johnson, General Manager, Sporting
  • Fraser Winskill, General Manager, New Zealand
  • Rudi Bekker, General Manager, Engineering
  • Owen Paulson, General Manager, Operations
  • Ferdi Kluever, Director – Bids & Proposals
  • Shane Huby, General Manager, Commercial
  • Garth Jones, Chief Financial Officer

James said the appointments underlined the capability within NIOA to deliver excellence as Australasia’s largest privately-owned supplier of munitions to the defence, law enforcement and sporting markets. “This is a 50-year-old, family-owned business that has been built on foundations of hard work, trust and delivering outstanding results for our customers and partners,” he said. “The leadership team we have assembled across NIOA Australia and New Zealand possesses the knowledge, capacity and expertise to continue to deliver the world-class service and support for which NIOA is known. It will be important that we look for synergies across the NIOA Group to ensure we are best harnessing resources and capacity to serve our domestic and international markets. I want to double down on our efforts to deliver world class support to our sporting, defence and law enforcement customers.”

Mick Ahern, who has had a lead role in NIOA’s delivery of Tranche 1 of the LAND159 Program, will take on the position of General Manager, Weapons & Munitions, for the company’s Australia and New Zealand division.

NIOA Australia is the largest supplier of non-guided munitions to the ADF delivering Australia’s future family of 155mm artillery munitions, the medium calibre munitions for the LAND 400 Rheinmetall Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle, Australia’s mortar capability as well as select munitions for the Abrams tank and more than 50 other strategic munitions.

The company is delivering the first tranche of the Australian Army’s LAND 159 Lethality System Program to modernise ADF weapon systems. The Australian operations include management of a significant portion of the Australian government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) munitions manufacturing facility at Benalla in Victoria and delivery of key Defence munitions programs.

NIOA has had a long-standing presence in New Zealand through its support of the New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand police, supplying various key weapons systems, tactical equipment and munitions. In April 2022, the company acquired Auckland-based Sportways Distributors, expanding its operations to bring an enhanced product range to the New Zealand sporting and hunting community.

The appointments follow changes to NIOA’s organisational structure to better align with its growth strategy and geographical expansion. This included a new group structure encompassing NIOA Australia, NIOA New Zealand, the Australian Missile Corporation, joint venture company Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions and newly acquired Barrett Firearms (USA).

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