A FLAME-haired Gold Coast entrepreneur dubbed the ‘Ginger Genius’ is seeing red over ‘vocal and aggressive’ attacks on his battling recycling company which turns plastic waste into affordable housing.
Nev Hyman is a veteran surfboard manufacturer whose business associates have included surfing legend Kelly Slater, golf star Adam Scott and fallen Billabong boss Matthew Perrin.
Hyman formed NevHouse four years ago with the dream of helping house the world’s poorest people in his cyclone-proof modular homes made from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste dumped every year.
He built homes on a remote island in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu, set up a NevHouse pilot scheme in an indigenous community in the Northern Territory, established a “eco-studio’ (granny flat) division and later won a global entrepreneur competition run by Prince Andrew, who presented the award to Hyman at London’s St James’ Palace.
But the Glitter Strip businessman has come in for criticism from what he calls a ‘vocal minority’ of NevHouse shareholders upset at the way the company is operating, including a failure to release financials and hold an annual meeting.
The company has been hit by the resignations of several directors in recent months, including Hyman’s brother Graham. One former director, Gordon Irons, launched legal action against NevHouse.
In an impassioned letter to shareholders calling for patience, Hyman says he’s aware of a ‘small minority’ who are ‘disgruntled and frustrated with the way that NevHouse has been operating and with the lack of communication’.
“Some of the vocal minority are not even shareholders of NHHL (Nev House Holdings Ltd),” he wrote.
“Further, their aggressive and critical comments have now entered the public domain.”
In his update, Hyman noted that NevHouse was showcased at the recent World Surf League contest in Bali, resulting in “a number of promising outcomes’.
He said web-based inquiries had ‘risen sharply’, with more than 100 flooding in.
As well, Hyman said, a ‘significant sweet spot has emerged’ for NevHouse Eco-Studios, with more than six opportunities to use the modular homes in eco-resorts in Indonesia and the South Pacific.
He said NevHouse had also been invited to participate in a ‘micro house’ display project in California. Meanwhile, the company’s indigenous housing division was negotiating with a Perth entity with $600 million to spend on Aboriginal housing, culture and tourism.
Hyman said the latest round of NevHouse capital raising had yielded $134,930, with 7.5c shares acquired by two shareholders.
“Most of these funds are allocated to the legal settlement of the Gordon Irons legal case, some were applied to attending the Corona Bali Protected 2019 (WSL event). The remaining funds were applied to the settlement of overdue operating bills and expenses,” he wrote.
Hyman said the 2016, 2017 and 2018 financial accounts were being amended and/or audited and an annual general meeting would be held ‘as soon as possible’.
He said companies watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, had been “appraised of the delays in holding the AGM and of the reasons behind this’.
Hyman said all payments to directors had been fully disclosed in the financial accounts.
“There is no fraud or deception in the decision to pay the directors a salary, especially when taking into account the effort and funds they have personally contributed as well,” he told shareholders.
“Further, I have sold down my personal equity holdings in NHHL to ensure that the company has adequate operational capital and cash flow to function and survive.”
Hyman said two new directors, Nathan Bosch and Leon Stephan, had joined the board for no remuneration ‘to stabilise the company’.
“Had this not happened, your investment would have most certainly been lost,” he told shareholders.
“In spite of these setbacks, NHHL has been run on the smell of an “oily rag’ for 4 years (and) it has still achieved great things, but only through financial and personal sacrifice, tenacity and commitment to do the moral and ethical thing at a level that I have never seen before in my career.
“The vast majority of NHHL shareholders who have been on the journey know and understand the journey and the sacrifices made. They have maintained their faith in us, we have made mistakes, we have learnt, we are ethical and now we move forward.
“I am confident that … the vast majority of the NHHL shareholders are willing to be patient for a little while longer whilst we close the sales and business opportunities that have so carefully been cultivated and bring financial stability to NHHL.