In this Q&A profile, My Business meets young, ambitious Victorian SME business owner Adam Farrugia and hear how he is quickly kicking sizeable goals in the electrical and mining industry with Wattrix Electrical.
Farrugia wanted to be an electrician for as long as he can remember and has envisaged himself as “a bit of an entrepreneur” since his late teens. In 2009 at age 22 he started electrical contracting business Wattrix Electrical and last year the company achieved national industry accreditation as an Accredited Master Electrician, the highest level of professional accreditation for an electrical contractor.
In a major win, in 2012 Wattrix Electrical won the 2012 Master Electricians Australia Electrician of the Year – National Industrial and Mining Project of the Year Award. This award was in recognition of their strata refuge chamber, which is used in mines in the event of a power failure or other emergency situation to provide fresh air, lighting, siren, radio and battery back-up for a minimum of 36 hours.
In the Q&A that follows, Farrugia paints the picture of an ambitious young business owner who seems determined for long-lasting business success.
My Business: What motivated you to start your own business?
Adam Farrugia: Both of my parents are in business, so I have been surrounded with like-minded people since a young age. I’m a very determined person who has very high standards. I have always set the bar very high in every aspect of my life.
MB: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started in business?
AF: I wish I had known how hard it was going to be and how much energy it takes to keep and grow a good reputation. It never stops…
MB: What are your most effective work habits?
AF: My most effective work habits would be communication, organisation and honesty. This has proven itself as last year we won the national Industrial & Mining Project of the Year Award for our mine refuge chambers and came runner-up in the Innovative Product of the Year Award category in the Master Electricians Australia 2012 National Excellence Awards.
MB: Best business decision you’ve ever made?
AF: Starting the Board of Directors 12 program in July last year, a business coaching program run by Stefan Kazakis. We meet fortnightly and Stefan and the program continually help me address problems and issues I'm facing, such as time and team management, profit, mental space, clarity and decision making.
MB: What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in business?
AF: Doing all of the work. I need to turn around the fact that I spend up to 90 per cent of my time ‘on the tools’. This is being resolved, as I recently hired two exceptional employees to manage and run projects, which will free me up to spend more time working on the business.
MB: How do you delight customers?
AF: We go above and beyond what's required to confirm our customers are getting what they want, not what some tradies want. And we are continually communicating with the customer throughout the whole job. We may be small contractors (for now), but we offer large company service.
MB: Share your number one sales technique with us.
AF: Face to face networking.
MB: What’s your secret team-building tactic?
AF: Making the team feel like they belong, being approachable and offering support when it is needed.
MB: Favourite piece of business technology?
AF: My tablet device. We have all our forms, job sheets etc, available on site at any time with tablet devices.
MB: Best tip for managing people?
AF: Being up front and respectful, but not getting in the way.
MB: Who do you most admire?
AF: I admire most business owners. They are able to live a sustainable life from their own achievements. But also by creating employment and financial security for hundreds, if not thousands, of people through their companies.
MB: What’s more important in business: passion or preparation?
AF: Preparation. It is easy to have the passion to build a million dollar idea. But it is a totally different ball game to put that idea into action. With Stefan Kazakis's help I am strategically designing a business plan that works, I am gaining more clarity in decision-making and strategically plan work flows.
MB: What challenges are unique to your industry and how are you overcoming them?
AF: There are thousands of electrical contractors in Victoria, so it's fair to say the competition is tight. We are honest, punctual, reliable and effective, which seems to be working in our favour.
MB: How do you relax?
AF: I go fishing, play golf, go camping, do water sports, love travelling and dirt bike riding, just to name a few.
MB: What do you hope to achieve in your business in the next 12 months and where do you plan to be in a year from now?
AF: Within the next 12 months we will have our maintenance division offering support and solutions to many large business problems. We are expanding our commercial and residential presence and aim to have some more large contracts underway. And last but not least, continue to supply our expertise for the Mine Refuge Chambers.
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