How to achieve growth despite the odds

Despite the slowdown in the Australian mining sector, one engineering SME has posted 275 per cent year-on-year growth. Here’s how they are succeeding despite having the odds stacked against them.

Australia’s mining boom has largely dried up, with mining-related profit growth a difficult feat to accomplish.

However, All West Engineering (AWE) has skyrocketed over its three years of trading and is set to report 275 per cent year-on-year growth.

This extraordinary growth in profitability is due to persisting when similar businesses had given up, as well as scaling back on overheads, according to AWE’s director of operations Paul Harris and director of corporate services Sandra Harris.

Issues as a start-up

“We had our business starting up in one of the most degraded downturns in mining history in Australia,” Mr Harris told My Business.

“We just pushed ... as hard as we could and worked as hard as we could, and all of a sudden it just kicks off.”

AWE opened in 2013 with just two employees, and met with great difficulties.

“The biggest [problem] was getting the continuity,” said Mr Harris.

“You really did have to pull your labour source from people who are already working.

“In order to offer [continuity], we needed [employees], and it comes out as a bit of a catch-22.

“To get continuity, you need people, but how do you get people when you don’t have continuity?”

Machinery required for projects had to be purchased with funds from one of Ms Harris’ other businesses, for a start-up in what some may have viewed as a dying industry.

The worst of AWE’s problems, however, are behind them, according to Ms Harris.

Past the troubles

One year later, AWE was ranked 44 in the 2015 BRW Fast Starters list, showing the company was on track for rapid growth. Today it has profited, with 58 employees.

AWE also has plans to expand into the dairy, viticulture, food manufacturing and petrochemical industries through its new company Maddison Engineering, with a goal of hiring 15 employees within its first six months.

Maddison Engineering’s first venture will be to aid AWE’s Western Australian operations, supplying the Pilbara with fabrication support.

There are also plans to expand internationally, with a pending joint venture into Richards Bay, South Africa.

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