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Editor Alex Harmon Deputy Editor Hugh Radojev
Welcome Hi there and welcome to another jam-packed edition of Australasia Outlook. We often look to the West of the country when we report on the booming mining
Writers Ian Armitage James Ferron
industry but in this issue we look South to an area
Journalist Rob Pritchard
Engineering is a company that provides specialised
water industries. We have an exclusive chat with the
near Port Adelaide in South Australia. Ottoway services to the petro-chemical, mining, defence and
Business Development Manager Tom Wheeler
CFO about the company which was formed in 1995
Advertising Sales Sandra Parr
million dollar company it is today.
Financial controller Suzanne Welsh
Production & Design Magazine design & production Lisa Ferron
with a single facility and ballooned into the multi-
Our cover story is on Regal Transport, a supply chain solution company who specialise in exceptional service, believing that the customer is the number one priority for success. This business model has proved fruitful as we learn from the
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Executive GM who tells us that the company has
digital & IT
been going from strength to strength even in tough
Keeping with the theme, we also delve into the
CEO David Alstin
agriculture industry which, in recent times, has been
Chairman Kevin Ellis
comes innovation, and we look at the new breed of
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crippled by the mining boom. But with tough times farmers who are applying big business thinking to the land. Thanks for reading.
Alex Harmon Editor
Seeds of change: Farmers with big business on their minds
Revealed: The security marketâ€™s best kept secret
Strength in diversity: Ottoway Engineering talk expansion and innovation
On t h e r o a d : The big wheels keep turning for Regal Transport
News e n v i r o n m e n t
Aust’s natural disaster costs to quadruple
A German reinsurer says the cost of natural disasters in Australia is set to nearly quadruple by 2050, but can be dramatically reduced by national investment in preventive measures. Munich Re says that as Australia’s population density increases, along with the severity and frequency of storms, floods, cyclones and bushfires, costs are projected to soar from 6.3 billion dollars a year currently, to about 23 billion a year in 2050. Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is part of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, a forum of business, companies and the Australian Red Cross. The roundtable was set up in 2012 and produced the study. It says investment in preventative measures could reduce the disaster-response cost to the government by more than 50 per cent.
b u s i n e s s
Top End will be next frontier: Abbott
The federal coalition wants to make the Top End of Australia the next development frontier for jobs, services and infrastructure. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott confirmed on Friday that if he becomes prime minister in September the coalition would produce a white paper on opportunities for the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland and Western Australia. “No longer will northern Australia be seen as the last frontier - it is, in fact, the next frontier,” Mr Abbott said in a statement. The white paper will consider ways to exploit region’s potential as a “food bowl” and double the nation’s agricultural output, boost domestic and international tourism and build an energy export industry worth $150 billion. This would allow northern Australia to capitalise on the significant economic, strategic and environmental trends now shaping both the Asian and tropical regions, where about 40 per cent of the world’s population now lives. “We like to talk about the Asian century,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Townsville. “If Australia is to play its part in the Asian century, that part of our country which is already the most integrated with Asia needs to be developed.” In the past, governments and the private sector have been reluctant to invest in major projects in the region because of insufficient populations and services. Mr Abbott says he expects the white paper, which would be delivered within a year, will allow a coalition government to encourage families to move north. It would also consider include moving parts of the CSIRO and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service agencies to key urban zones. “We need over time to ensure, that where appropriate, where it fits, we have several government facilities placed here in northern Australia rather than in the corner of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Abbott said.
w o r l d
Jolie urges leaders to act on Syria Angelina Jolie said the Syrian civil war is the world’s most acute humanitarian crisis and called on world leaders to make diplomatic efforts to end it succeed. Jolie spoke at Jordan’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, which she toured Thursday as special envoy for the United Nations refugee agency. “I appeal to the world leaders - please, set aside your differences, unite to end the violence, and make diplomacy
succeed,” she told reporters, drawing attention to the UN’s World Refugee Day. Jolie is returning to her humanitarian work after announcing last month that she had her breasts removed after discovering she has an inherited genetic mutation that puts her at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Her visit to Zaatari camp was her first visit public appearance with the United Nations refugee agency since the double mastectomy. The actress said that by the end of this year, “half of Syria’s population - 10 million people
- will be in desperate need of food, shelter and assistance”. In her news conference under a tent in Zaatari camp, she said that refugees are “often forgotten and frequently misunderstood”. “They are regarded as a burden, as helpless individuals, or as people who wish to move to someone else’s country,” she said. “That is not who they are,” she added sombrely. Rather, refugees are people to invest in, “who will one day rebuild their countries, and a more peaceful world for us all”. Jordan currently hosts more than half a million displaced Syrians.
S p o r t
Soccer ace sets world scoring record Abby Wambach became the all-time leader goal scorer in international football on Thursday, netting four goals to secure a 5-0 friendly triumph for the United States over South Korea. The 33-year-old striker broke the old all-time world mark of 158 goals set over 275 matches by former US teammate Mia Hamm, netting four firsthalf goals in her 207th cap to finish on 160 career goals, 69 of them coming on headers. “It’s surreal to begin with,” Wambach said. “The whole first half was crazy. My teammates were trying to get me those goals. It was clear. I’m so thankful.” Wambach, the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a right-footed blast and matched Hamm’s mark in the 19th minute on a header, stretching her US record for multi-goal games to 39. The record-setting 159th goal for Wambach came in the 29th minute, when Megan Rapinoe fired a corner kick into the area and Wambach nodded home a header. Wambach hugged Rapinoe in celebration and was
then mobbed by her joyous teammates as parents Pete and Judy Wambach watched from the stands. “They were all about trying to get me goals,” Wambach said. “I want to thank them. We made a lot of things happen. We attacked in many different ways.” In first-half stoppage time, Wambach stretched the new mark to 160 goals to give the Americans a 4-0 half-time edge. Wambach, a two-time Olympic champion, was removed in the 61st minute for reserve Christen Press to a huge ovation from the crowd in the home park of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. In the 67th minute, Lauren Cheney added a final goal for the US women. Hamm lauded Wambach in a Twitter posting, saying, “Congratulations @AbbyWambach. So proud of you, my friend. You are a warrior and true champion. Enjoy this.” Wambach was relieved to have her chase of Hamm’s mark finished. “As a competitor, you want to be done with being second,” she said. “This team is too good to be talking about just one player. I’m glad it’s over with.”
News P o l i t i c s
e n v i r o n m e n t
SA premier back same sex bill
Australia on notice to protect reef
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill wants his state to be a trailblazer in passing same sex marriage laws. Mr Weatherill has pledged to support legislation brought before state parliament, arguing its time has come. “South Australia has led on these issues before and we should lead the way again,” he said. “I think that two people who love one another should be allowed to get married and I don’t think the state should stand in the way.” Other Labor MPs will be given a conscience vote, though the Liberal opposition will oppose the bill, suggesting it will likely fail. Should it pass, even its proponent, Labor MP Susan Close, believes it will almost certainly face a High Court challenge. She introduced the bill on Thursday, partly to mark the birthday of her gay brother, and on the same day as the federal Senate rejected a similar bill sponsored by the Australian Greens. “It’s not a constitutional problem in the sense that it’s perfectly okay for a state to have legislation relating to marriage,” Ms Close said. “The issue will only be if the High Court determines that the commonwealth has covered the field in defining marriage as between a man and a woman. “My view is if we believe in it we should vote for it and then allow lawyers to work that through to the High Court.” Mr Weatherill said he believed state legislation could survive a High Court challenge but he accepted there were arguments on both sides. 8
The Great Barrier Reef will be listed as an “in danger” World Heritage site next year if new developments along the Queensland coast aren’t restricted. The World Heritage Committee has told Australia it must present a plan on how to protect the reef from increasing coal and gas extraction and shipping. If improvements aren’t made the reef could be listed as “in danger” when the committee meets in June next year. Although Australia has made some progress, “some issues still need to be addressed more forcefully”, Marc Patry, program specialist at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, said at its recent meeting in Cambodia. WWF Great Barrier Reef spokesman Richard Leck, who attended the committee meeting, says the state and federal governments have been put on notice. “They have 12 months to take these recommendations seriously or risk the Great Barrier Reef
being listed on the World Heritage list of shame,” he said. The committee also had some good news, noting Australia’s commitment to improving water quality. Both Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Queensland Environment Andrew Powell welcomed the decision. “I am pleased that the final report takes into account more recent commitments by the government to safeguard the reef,” Mr Burke said. This includes a further $200 million for the next stage of the Reef Rescue program and continued scientific research to protect the reef, he said. Mr Powell said the state government had worked hard over the past year to address concerns raised by the UN’s environmental arm. This includes scaling back plans for a multi-cargo port at Abbott Point near Bowen, improving water quality and reducing nutrient run off from farms.
S p o r t
B u s i n e s s
Spain footballers robbed in Brazil
Fair Work not noose for business: Oliver
Spanish national football team players have been robbed at their hotel in the northern Brazilian city of Recife, football officials said on Thursday. FIFA confirmed police were investigating after Spanish media said players had money stolen from their rooms while in Recife for a Confederations Cup match against Uruguay on Sunday. “We know that there was a police report and this was being dealt with by the relevant authorities,” FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said. “We have also been in touch with the team.” A spokeswoman for the Spanish team declined to discuss the incident, while police in Recife could not be reached for comment. Six Spanish players, including Gerard Pique, reported that goods, including money, had been stolen from their rooms, according to Spanish daily newspaper Marca and the EFE news agency. The players reportedly discovered their money was missing as they prepared to leave Recife on Monday after the 2-1 win over Uruguay the previous day. Security has long been a major problem in Brazil, where knife- and gun-point muggings, carjackings and armed robberies continue to be facts of daily life.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver is disturbed that there has been little outcry over car-maker GM Holden’s call for its workforce to take a wage cut. He has told a conference that while he understands Holden is struggling due to a number of factors outside of its control, the implied threat of job losses if workers refuse to take a pay cut is a “dangerous precedent”. “But the political uncertainty surrounding the car industry in an election year is a big part of the problem,” he told the Committee for Economic Development in Australia’s State of the Nation conference in Canberra on Monday. He believes more broadly that the Australian workforce remains “flexible and innovative”. But while workers are contributing to greater productivity, they are not getting their share of the rewards. He says some of the relentless negativity of the federal opposition led by Tony Abbott has rubbed off on the business community, nowhere more so than in workplace relations. “I am sick and tired of hearing business leaders and the
business press trotting out the same lame complaints that the workforce is unproductive and lacking flexibility, that wages and conditions are too high, and that the Fair Work Act is a noose around their neck,” he said. He says the facts do not substantiate these claims. Mr Oliver says the worst productivity outcomes were recorded during the Work Choices years and it’s a myth the policy created the environment for a spurt in productivity growth, and a furphy that the Fair Work Act has somehow dampened it. However, Productivity Commission chair Peter Harris told the conference multi-factor productivity, which takes in a number of inputs rather than just labour, had been in decline over the past decade. “We have not been matching income with effort,” Mr Harris said. He said governments should allow time for well designed policy reforms to be implemented, not just respond to crisis. “We are good in crisis, but it is no way to run a railroad,” he said. Opening the conference, Shell Australia’s country chair Ann Pickard said it was “quite an achievement” that Australia has been able to keep its triple A ratings. She believes that while Australia faces difficult choices, it has the unprecedented opportunity to lock in its prosperity and high living standards for future generations. “In my view Australia has historically been able to make the important and hard decisions when required to remain internationally competitive,” she said.
e n v i r o n m e n t
Air pollution becomes Asia’s migraine Air pollution has become a curse for millions of citydwellers in Asia, posing a mounting risk to the very young and very old, pregnant women and people with heart and respiratory problems, say experts. “The levels of pollution in parts of China, India and elsewhere in Asia are just astronomically high and the health impacts are dramatic,” said Bob O’Keefe of the Health Effects Institute (HEI), a US not-for-profit research agency. “This is a threat that was really underestimated in the past,” said O’Keefe. This week, Singapore grappled with record levels of air pollution, unleashed by land fires in neighbouring Indonesia. In January, pollution in Beijing went off the scale of an air-quality monitor at the US embassy, and the city’s hospital admissions surged by 20 per cent. In August 2012, Hong Kong suffered its highestrecorded pollution, prompting the territory to urge vulnerable population groups to stay indoors. HEI estimates, derived from an exceptionally detailed analysis called the Global Burden of Disease, say that some 3.2 million people around the world died prematurely from outdoor air pollution in 2010. China and India together accounted for some 2.5 million of these deaths, sharing the tally roughly equally. The death toll in China has risen by a third over 20 years, but worse pollution is only part of the reason. As China becomes more prosperous, its citizens are attaining greater ages, reaching 70 or 80 years or beyond - when people become more vulnerable to heart and respiratory stress from air pollution. A study published last August in the journal Nature Climate Change estimated that forest and land fires in Southeast Asia kill an additional 15,000 people annually from air pollution during the El Nino weather phenomenon, when drier soil often causes blazes to go out of control. An investigation by US researchers, published in February, found that among three million births recorded in nine countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, there was a clear link between worse air pollution and lower birth weight. Low birth weight - when a newborn weighs less than 2.5 kilos - is associated with ill health, premature death and cognitive problems in later life. Health experts point to two main dangers from air pollution. One concerns particulate matter (PM) - the sooty 10
specks emitted from fossil fuels, forest fires and land clearances. Cathryn Tonne, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, points the finger at so-called PM2.5 - particles measuring 2.5 micrometres across or less, or 30 times smaller than a human hair. Mainly generated by the burning of coal and oil for power stations, and diesel and petrol for transport, these are many times more perilous than PM10 particles, which are 10 micrometres across, Tonne and colleagues found in research into heart deaths in England and Wales. “We found that for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre in PM2.5, there was a 20-per cent increase in the death rate,” Tonne said. By way of comparison, the WHO has a recommended maximum of 10 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre as an annual exposure -- and a maximum over a 24-hour period of 25 micrograms per cubic metre. In the United States, the annual PM2.5 limit is a recommended 12 micrograms per cubic metre, and in the European Union (EU), it is 25 micrograms. In Beijing’s smog scare in January, though, levels reached a whopping 993 micrograms per cubic metre ... almost 40 times the World Health Organization’s advised safety limit. The other big danger from air pollution is ozone, a triple molecule of oxygen that in the stratosphere is a vital shield against DNA-damaging sunlight, but at ground level - where it is typically created by a reaction between nitrogen oxides in traffic fumes and sunlight - it is an irritant for the airways. Short-term spikes in ground-level ozone have long been linked to heart attacks and severe asthma. But research conducted in the US, published in 2009, suggests that cumulative exposure is also a big risk factor. The probability of dying from respiratory disease rose by as much as 50 per cent as a result of long-exposure to high concentrations of ozone.
T e c h n o l o g y
New frontier for cybersecurity: your body So far, the idea of hacking into medical devices has been limited to fiction and hacker demonstrations. But US regulators and security experts say the threat is real: malicious operators can gain access to devices ranging from pacemakers to insulin pumps, with potentially fatal results. The US Food and Drug Administration this month warned manufacturers to step up their vigilance, saying it has learned of “cybersecurity vulnerabilities and incidents that could directly impact medical devices or hospital network operations”. Officials say they know of no deliberate hacking of medical devices. But on the television drama Homeland, the vice-president of the United States is assassinated by hackers who gain access to his pacemaker and deliver a fatal electric shock. “The good news is that we are not aware of any incidents in the real world,” said Kevin Fu, a University of Michigan professor of computer science specialising in health security, but adding that, “It takes just a blink of the eye for malware to get in.” Fu co-authored a 2008 research paper highlighting the risks of implantable devices like cardiac defibrillators, which could be re-programmed by hackers who get into system’s wireless network. “My opinion is that the greater risk is from malware that accidentally gets into a device rather than the attacks in fictionalised programs,” Fu said. Barnaby Jack at the security firm IOActive, said the Homeland scenario was “fairly realistic”, and that he would demonstrate a similar attack at an upcoming hacker gathering. Jack has been researching implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators from a major manufacturer, and said he has found the devices “to be particularly vulnerable”. In another publicised incident, security specialist Jay Radcliffe, who is diabetic, demonstrated in 2011 the potential to hack into an insulin pump to change dosage levels. Security specialists say that in addition to implanted devices, hospital equipment such as monitoring systems, scanners and radiation equipment are connected to networks which could have lax security, creating similar security holes. Some heart and drug monitoring systems use open Wi-Fi connections that can be hacked. “The vast majority of medical devices in hospitals I’ve been to use Windows XP or Windows 95. These are extremely vulnerable to computer malware,” Fu said.
Attacks or insertion of malware could affect things like radiation therapy, or devices which mix nutrients for intravenous delivery, he said. Medical devices and equipment may have passwords, but these can be hacked as well, as shown in a recent report by the security firm Cylance, which obtained passwords to 300 different devices. This finding prompted a warning from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Emergency Response Team for industrial systems, which said security should be stepped up for surgical devices, ventilators, drug infusion pumps and other equipment. A number of computer security firms are working to help the industry, but Fu said these solutions are often the equivalent of a Band-Aid. “Most cybersecurity problems can be traced back to the design,” he said “I have doubts that a strategy just based on antivirus or firewalls can be effective.” Experts say that despite all the risks, people still are better off with than without these devices. “The chance of a targeted malicious attack against someone’s medical device is extremely low, and the last thing we want is for people to lose faith in these life saving devices,” Jack said. “We think that any risk, no matter how low, still needs to be eliminated. We hope by raising awareness of these issues and bringing the threats to the attention of the manufacturers, that they can take steps to improve the security of these devices.” 11
The strong dollar is exposing the inherent weaknesses of Australia’s traditional agricultural model. With so many farms going in to bankruptcy, there a growing argument that the only way ahead for agriculture lies in creating a more sustainable model. Where the image of the battling Aussie farmer is replaced by a new generation of agricultural managers who apply big business thinking to the land. By James Ferron
s if the climatic challenges weren’t enough to contend with, there’s also the growing impact of the high Australian dollar to add to the challenges of facing farmers throughout Australia. As the mining industry is reaping the benefits of the the resources boom, on the other end of the exchange seesaw has seen farmers lose $43.5 billion in export income since the Australian dollar began to scale to historic highs. To put that into perspective: that amounts to a 41 per cent drop in export earnings since the boom began. The difficulties facing agriculture are perhaps no more starkly illustrated than in Western Australia, with the grain belt experiencing a 20 per cent decline in rainfall over the last several decades. These conditions are evidence of a drier climate than was even projected in the late 1980s by the then best-available global climate models. In the long-term the results will be drier soil which will eventually lead to a host of other significant environmental problems with plant growth becoming hostage to season rainfall making crop yields much more vulnerable to spring conditions. Of course, drought has always been the way of life for Australian farmer. But if agriculture is to meet the future, it’s clear that the coming together climate and economic factors is demanding an evolutionary step in adopting new techniques and strategies. Some contend the current resources boom is in all likelihood the long overdue wake up call required to energise Australian agriculture towards a better and more sustainable future. In WA the evidence that better management can make the difference is seen by the fact that two-thirds (64 per cent) of the farms were classed as financially growing or strong businesses, generating average annual rates of return to farmers’ equity of at least 8 per cent. The profitability was due to their productivity growth, rather than rising commodity prices and achieved through their use of existing technologies that offered economies from increasing the size of farm operations.
Decades of wheat breeding and agronomic research, coupled with modern machinery and herbicide technologies, have allowed wheat to be a widely adapted crop that adds to the resilience of farm businesses. It’s promising that Government is starting to align policy in this direction. Rather than merely step in to help out after the crisis has struck, economic support is finally being use to help implement new approaches in farming. In early May of this year, federal, state and territory primary industries ministers signed a joint agreement on drought policy reform. From July 2014 drought programs will focus on lifting farmers’ skills in risk management and business preparedness to respond to challenges like drought. These include access to Farm Management Deposits and taxation measures, a national approach to farm business training, and technologies to help farmers make decisions. Some industry commentators see this move toward a more corporate market orientated
management approach as the only way forward for farmers and Australian agriculture. By their reckoning, there are up to 40,000 farmers running their business on a highly profitable basis and who are part the ‘New’ Australian agriculture. These are farmers who make their decisions by considering all the factors that go into running their farm to make it responsive forward thinking business by measuring water use efficiency, considering crop yield in terms of tonnes per hectare per 100 millimetres of rain, thinking about wool and beef production in the same terms. They’re also employing risk management strategies, forward selling – making them more akin to business people than the farmer of Australia’s past. Those who promote this future vision of ‘new’ farming also see the way that land is ‘owned’ changing too. For instance, one such ‘new farmer’ might own the land, while another owns the livestock. This would create a more dynamic and market-led way of farming where the strategic
farmers to walk away from the land. It seems that even in the midst of Australia’s resources boom, austerity in government spending doesn’t afford much hope for those farms that can’t adapt to the new financial realities of agriculture. So, perhaps even the government has woken up to the fact that the old model of Australian farming is no longer sustainable or indeed helpful for the country’s future. Yet moving towards a bigger, better farming future demands key investment. Australia needs to embark on a wave of farming innovation that would see the boosting soil carbon levels to increase the nutrient supply to plants, backed by programs to achieve better water use efficiency, new crop genetics, the promotion of best farming practice; and a serious increase in R&D investment. The government needs to continue to support sustainability practices such as no-till cropping, irrigation management and on-farm nutrient recycling With a new agricultural model Australia would be able to target the huge demands of Asia. But the seeds need to be planted – now is not the time for Government to be cutting budgets for innovation support for farming and food production. With a shared vision, Australia could have an agricultural industry that rises to the changing climate and markets.
thinking and management demanded by the market is met by managers with the necessary skills and talent, while the actual farming is looked after by someone just as highly qualified in the business of growing crops and husbandry. This might seem to many to fly in the face of the doom and gloom we associate with the image of farming – and the undeniable fact that Australia’s food production and manufacturing sector is slowing. Many critics of the current model of agriculture claim that it’s actually the vested interest of many traditional farming groups – with an agenda focused on getting financial support from government – that’s holding back this much needed evolutionary step. The reality is that a high percentage of existing farms are never going to be profitable. This clearly to be seen in the fact that in WA in the past month five wheatgrowers and their families have abandoned their farms in despair, throwing the banks the keys to their vast cropping properties east of Perth and large debts as they walk out the gate. Hundreds of other grain farms are for sale in a crescent stretching from Morawa, 350km northeast of Perth, east towards Merredin and Southern Cross, and south to Bruce Rock, Kulin, Corrigan, Narembeen, Lake Grace and Hyden. Neither can farmers expect a lifeline from Government, with the only response to the crisis being a $20,000 exit grant to allow those
The security marketâ€™s
best kept secret
Security & Technology Services
Australasia Outlook talks to Greg Ireland, managing director and founder of Security & Technology Services, a fast-growing provider of security and fire detection equipment. By Ian Armitage
Greg, you’ve built quite the business. Is everything going to plan? The business is performing very well under the high levels of pressure we have placed on it in the last year or two. It is finally finding the time it needs to consolidate internally and settle staff into their roles and responsibilities without the need to be travelling constantly to remote locations. Our Darwin office has relocated into custom-built premises, which has been a great lift for our team having a fresh look and feel to their work environment as well as state of the art facilities.
ecurity & Technology Services are a Winnellie-based fast-growing provider of security and fire detection equipment, who were awarded the 2012 Telstra Northern Territory Business of the Year. In the same year they also won the Commonwealth Bank Medium Business Award. Remarkably, the firm was only formed in 2004 and it started with one employee: managing director Greg Ireland. He formed the business to “meet growing demand” for specialist security advice and technical capabilities. Business is booming. It now employs more than 60 staff in Darwin and has offices in Alice Springs, Broome, Katherine and Adelaide. Clients include NT Police, Darwin Port Corporation and the Department of Immigration. “We supply, install and maintain security and fire detection equipment like CCTV, intercoms, intruder alarms and access control systems,” Mr Ireland says. He tells me more about his astonishing story…
It has been a great year couple of years for you. What are the highlights? The most successful area for Security & Technology Services over the last year has been the development and implementation of multiple platform integration on a number of high security sites. These installations have been spread over numerous onshore and offshore facilities and have encompassed technical and logistical challenges that were effectively managed and controlled.
The business has performed at above its capacity for the last 12 months and has made the effort to introduce effective process and also to improve our marketing profile and brand awareness. We are still a secret amongst some of the leading clients in our sphere of operation and the company now needs to firmly entrench itself in the marketplace. Has being 2012 Telstra Northern Territory Business of the Year helped raise your profile? The recognitiongoes a long way to driving awareness of the capability of Security & Technology Services to the broader market and will provide us with the catalyst to maximise opportunities in our own back yard. It has helped build credibility to our brand, assist us with our goal to improve our visibility and instil confidence in our prospective clients that will encourage them to build a lasting relationship with our organisation. I highly recommend the Telstra Awards process; this has been invaluable to us. Our goal has never been to win these awards but to simply participate and
learn from the experience. This process forces you to look at your business from an outsider’s perspective and quickly highlights areas that need attention. We won the Territory awards for the second time and the experience at the National level, and the people that you meet and network with, are simply amazing. We were in outstanding company there, and whilst we did not take out any of the National awards, we learnt so much more about what we need to do next. It has dictated our development plans for the next 12 months. What’s your secret? Our silver bullet is ‘Simplicity within Complexity’ and we have built our reputation on the following factors: }} Our capacity to innovate within complex and dynamic sectors; }} By committing the right people to the right roles; }} Our ability to understand customer needs and tailor solutions; and }} By delivering real and measurable results. Did you ever imagine you’d
achieve what you have? The short answer is No. The company was started with a desire to provide the local market with a technically competent, high quality service that we initially expected to be quite niche but has turned out to be a much broader requirement and not limited to our region. There is no rocket science with that and old-fashioned hard work, commitment to the outcomes, consistency in delivery, and building strong relationships has been the key to achieving our goals. These goals in a broader sense are also pretty basic and are simply to create the best team possible around us, create opportunity for our staff to grow and develop, have fun and celebrate our successes. Do you see a lot of potential for the business going forward? There are a number of opportunities that fit perfectly within the skillset that has been developed by Security & Technology Services and that we are best positioned to deliver successfully. Some of these exist in Darwin as well as around other areas within Australia where we have capability. The industry has been going through
Security & Technology Services
dramatic change over the last few years with more and more suppliers embracing IP based technology and with the convergence of the Security and IT industries. This has meant upskilling our existing team and also sourcing employees with non-traditional security skills. This change has been embraced by us and is one of the reasons for our recent success and why we can separate ourselves from a number of our competitors. Are you mindful of a potential slowdown? This industry has always been robust with respect to activity during slower economic times, however we always need to be aware of potential downturns and the dangers of over committing the business. Balancing that fine line between chasing every opportunity we can find and ensuring we stick to our core mantra of consistent delivery can be a difficult one at times. We feel we are well placed to hunt down the best opportunities that suit us strategically and give the business the balance it needs going forward.
On a more personal level, what advice would you give to start-ups? Being in business is a logical progression of being good at what you do. If you believe in yourself and can build a team around you to replicate this then you are creating a multiplying effect that does not have to have any real limitations. I would also recommend in investing in great systems very early in a business life cycle as this creates discipline and can be difficult to implement later. However in our business model the single focus needs to be on relationships. Both internally and externally you must have strong relationships, staff, suppliers and clients are your lifeblood and you must trust in each other at all times. Lastly, the old favourite ‘Cash is King’ can never be forgotten. Most of us do not have a bottomless pit of money and many good businesses have failed through lack of funding. Manage your cash and focus strongly on timing of invoicing, collections and payments. To learn more about Security & Technology Services visit www.sts.net.au.
How will you stay ahead of the pack? The security industry is changing at a technical level and the core competencies of our staff need to be modified to stay ahead of the pack. We are addressing this with training and recruiting techniques as previously stated. Also, with a strong focus on critical infrastructure security, the market is keen to find non-proprietary solutions to integrating the myriad of subsystems needed to effectively manage a facility in these modern times. Our biggest challenge is to create more national awareness of our capability and to ensure that we position ourselves for potential future growth. We need to maintain the dynamic and flexible nature of a small/medium sized business while embracing a level of corporatisation and improved process. The future for us in the short term is about consolidation and consistency, we have struggled with these aspects when our teams have been placed under huge pressure due to sheer volume of work and the time to deal with all the detail has been hard to find. We are better resourced than ever and look forward to catching up and ensuring we meet our own
and our client’s expectations. We are seeking to grow ourselves into markets where we are not active or not represented; this will be driven by the same things that have driven our growth to date - relationships and demand. These are both internal and external drivers, we need the best people and we need clients that want us to commit to them. If both of these criteria are met then we will continue to invest in new locations.
“We won the Territory awards for the second time and the experience at the National level, and the people that you meet and network with, are simply amazing”
Strength in diversity
ttoway Engineering was formed in 1995 as a mechanical fabrication and installation company before being acquired by E & A Limited in 2007. At the time of Ottoway’s acquisition, the company employed 35 people in a single facility in South Australia. Six years later Ottoway’s number of employees has ballooned to 230 and the company now runs 87 major projects in Western Australia and Queensland, including a large workshop in Dalby. As Mr Alaraj explains, while Ottoway’s exponential expansion has happened relatively quickly, it hasn’t been by chance. It has been a progressive process of hard work, astute hiring and staying true to a solid business model. “In 2009 we highlighted three areas that we wanted to have an impact on growth; in
Focus Industry When one thinks about the hotspots for mining and resources in Australia, it is the West as opposed to the South of the country that first springs to mind. Yet for one firm, Ottoway Engineering and their Chief Financial Officer Ra’ed Alaraj South Australia has been the perfect base from which to expand and diversify not just in terms of physical acquisitions but also in regards to services it can render. After all, why just limit yourself to one industry when you can be across five? by Hugh Radojev
utilizing the 457 skilled labour Visa program, CSM (Coal Seam Methane) gas projects in Queensland and on tier one projects valued under $20 million. Progressively we have increased our capability and capacity up to 230 employees which allowed us to increase our market share in various sectors such as defence, infrastructure, oil & gas, mining and water industry.” It would be fair to say that 22
having started with an annual turnover of $18 million a year in 1995 (2007), Ottoway Engineering’s current profits would far exceed that. Also, ****while Ottoway Engineering does have a number of working Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Gas and Petroleum Mining projects in Western Australia & QLD, its diversity into other sectors such as defence, water and even into South Australia’s perennially strong wine water industry
means that it is well placed to ride out any slump in Western Australia’s decade long mining and resources boom. Indeed, things look so promising for Ottoway that Mr. Alaraj and his team are looking for further expansion into this region when many companies are tightening their belts. “The outlook for 2013 is promising as we are forecasting a 20 per cent revenue growth, we undertake this process through increasing our share in the market and targeting more work in the East and West,” he explains when asked what the rest of the 2013 financial year and beyond holds for Ottoway Engineering. “We continuously keep an eye on any available growth opportunities such as acquisitions, partnership or JV [joint ventures]. Ottoway continue to search for opportunities Australia wide with the view of expanding into both the East (North) and West [of Australia].” Ottoway’s meteoric rise in its industry has come on the back of our strong working culture of customer service and care and an understanding at every level of the business of what the company’s goals and aims are. “We differentiate ourselves from our competitors, we value working with our customers, we care about our people, contractors and suppliers. We align our company culture with our strategic goals by aiming to be the leader in every aspect of our business.” Being a part of E&A Limited has also benefited Ottoway hugely, as can be seen from the huge business expansion the company has enjoyed since 2007. Along with the access
to resources, knowledge and experience that being a part of E&A offers it also gives Ottoway a huge amount of leverage in the market and allows them to offer the most diverse range of engineering capacities in not just South Australia, but perhaps even in Australia as a whole. This is basically down to what Mr. Alaraj refers to as the ‘E&A way’. As with any business the welfare and happiness of the staff is paramount and nowhere is that more obvious than at Ottoway, where Mr. Alaraj and his team pride themselves on their virtually spotless safety record. “Also the safety of our people is permanently our priority and we continuously aim to have a ‘ZERO Harm Culture’,” he explains when asked what was most important to Ottoway. “So far we have completed 1000 (safe) days/a million hours LTI (Lost Time
james contract supplies, south australian owned and operated – crane hire and heavy haulage were originally started in 1986 to relocate and install our own fabricated products – stainless steel tanks. since our inception we have grown at a steady pace from one truck and tank float and one 25 tonne mobile crane to one of the largest crane and heavy haulage companies in south australia. Our company specialises in turn key projects. If you have a project or load anywhere in australia, James Contract supplies is interested in hearing from you. James Contract supplies also has Jacking and skating capabilities up to 400 tonne. a few projects that James Contract supplies Pty Ltd are heavily involved in are; relocation and installation of large electrical transformers australia-wide for aBB australia P/L Power Technology and we are also involved with Built Environs in the relocation of very large tanks in Roxby Downs. Ph: 08 8243 9500 Fax: 08 8347 3862 Email: email@example.com
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Injury) free,” he says proudly. Indeed, when asked what would be his priority for him if all his company’s wishes could be made to come true Alaraj immediately responded “Safety. To remain LTI free.” It’s one thing for a company to say that they’re fully invested in the safety and well being of their workers, quite another for them to put that into practice and tangible results. Ottoway Engineering is also hugely proud of its success with utilising overseas workers through the 457 Visa program. Finding qualified and skilled workers locally can sometimes be a challenge and so, through utilising the Visa program, Ottoway Engineering have been able to build a uniquely diverse group of Australian and international workers who are committed to pushing the company forward.
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“One of the challenges we face is access to skilled labours, as you know that will have an effect on our growth as a result we are focusing on off-site facility where production efficiencies can be exploited as well developing Australia’s best recruitment and retention skills for overseas 457 visa employees.” All of these things have allowed Ottoway Engineering to continue to deliver sterling service to its major partners like mining giant Santos while also expanding into different industry sectors that wouldn’t have even been thought of a decade before. It should be obvious what it is about Ottoway Engineering that makes it stand out from its competitors, but Ra’ed Alaraj puts it best when he says that his company can “add value to our clients by delivering the work efficiently, on time, safely and in line with the budget.”
Brice Metals are a proud supplier to Ottoway Engineering and wish to congratulate them on their continued success in the South Australian Metal Fabrication Industry. Brice Metals is Adelaide's largest Independent Steel Stockist offering a full range of structural steel, plate, merchant bar, tubular products, and sheet and coil products. We have extensive processing capabilities including cutting and drilling, profiling, coping, slitting and cut to length. For all your steel requirements please call our staff on 84057111 or check out our web site at www.brice.com.au
By Hugh Radojev
lot has been made in recent months by various media outlets, economic analysts and the reserve bank about the end of the decade long mining boom in Western Australia. The huge amount of money floating about the state had, in many ways, kept Australia’s economy afloat – helping to prop up flagging national industries like manufacture and the real estate market. Many now are predicting that without the constant turnover of the mineral resources sector Australia may finally tumble into the recession that it has managed to avoid for the last two years. Yet for Giles Everest, the Executive General Manager of supply chain solution company Regal Transport the end of the mining boom isn’t so much the catastrophic end of the good times in the industry as it is simply a return to the norm. Regal Transport commenced trading on July 1st 2009 as the result of a merger between two transport and heavy haulage companies, N&L Transport and Strategic Transport Services. Regal Transport subsequently became a wholly owned subsidiary of K&S Corporation in July of 2010, the same year that Giles Everest was appointed Executive General Manager. In an already congested heavy haulage market Regal Transport and Giles Everest realised from the outset that a point of difference – a means of standing out from amongst the crowd – was vital to generating business. As Mr. Everest himself explained: “In the transport industry it can be difficult to differentiate yourself, anyone can drive a truck up and down the coast and deliver freight. But what distinguishes Regal Transport is that we provide a broader-based end-to-end solution,” he says, before elaborating further. “We provide heavy haulage, general freight, specialised project work, warehousing, rail, sea transport and we have the abilitiy to run regular services to just about anywhere in WA most days of the week and we do it with the customer as the number one focus.”
The end of the mining boom is not the end of the line for Regal Transport. We talk to their Executive General Manager about how they maintain an innovative edge in a competitive market.
This won’t be the last time in the interview that Giles Everest returns to Regal Transport’s unabashed focus on the satisfaction of their customers. While it might seem something of a cliché for a business to say that the customer is one of the most important parts of their company model, it is a statement that is born out by Regal Transport’s continued focus on providing what Mr. Everest calls ‘exceptional customer service.” With customer service being such an important part of Regal Transport’s business model, it is imperative that all of the company’s 280 odd staff members are just as committed to this vision as Giles Everest is. After K&S took control of Regal Transport there was quite a bit of turnover amongst the staff and Giles Everest and the rest of his management team were forced to rebuild their team and reintegrate their business ethic and values into a new group of people. “We did lose a few people when we amalgamated the two businesses, but we have now built a very good people base and the turnover rate has reduced significantly. We believe our people are really important and having the right skilled and experienced people to do the work, deliver the service is very important.” With a hard working, committed team of staff who had eagerly fostered a reputation amongst its clientele as well as in the wider heavy haulage industry of tailored and exceptional customer service, Regal Transport now appears to be well placed to ride out any financial difficulties the ‘bursting resources bubble’ might bring. The same however cannot be said for some of Regal’s competitors, however it seems unlikely that you’ll hear Giles Everest complaining about that. “Competition is an issue, particularly in a weakening market,” he goes on. “Since things have slowed down our competitors have been dropping their prices to rates that are completely unsustainable. We all know the transport industry already runs at such tight margins, but as soon as things pick up, it’s obvious, they will just put their rates up again.” Regal Transport doesn’t play these sorts of games when it comes to pricing, even when the industry was booming, Regal maintained its rates while other companies were introducing exorbitant rate increases. “During the boom times we maintained our rates, we didn’t go putting stupid rates on things like some of our competitors did and we’re finding that has paid off with the customer loyalty we enjoy now.” This bond of trust that Regal Transport has forged with its customers through the times of boom has now placed it in a great position to maintain profitability despite the downturn. Regal Transport’s commitment to customer service is
G&M Forklift Hire G&M Forklift Hire (1993) Pty Ltd Is a Service support supplier of forklift and materials handling, offering effective forklift solutions throughout Western Australia. We provide fully maintained forklift fleets to many companies and it is an absolute pleasure to work with the Regal Transport Team. We call them a team as that is exactly what they are, the passion for team work from the leadership to the operators of the machines we supply, is nothing short of outstanding. We have worked with many businesses over the years and it is fantastic to see a company that embracers safety and welfare of its operations as Regals do. Safety integrity through several options we have fitted to their machines has operators of machines and the staff around them in a far safer work environments than ever before. The transition into their new and older machines in speed limiting, seat belt interlock, transmission virtual traction control and many other safety and operational features with the machines not only enhances the safety for all staff and visitors to the operation, it also cuts down on expensive maintenance and downtime that can be reflected in the overall operational budgets. Machinery downtime is something we strive to stamp out in maintaining a fleet that provides 100 percent usability all of the time. This is achievable when you can work with a company that understands all of the requirements to achieving this goal and is an absolute credit to them all. Our team at G&M Forklift Hire (1993) Pty Ltd welcome and embrace their success story and look forward to continuing our work with them for many years to come. Congratulations to Regal on all their achievements from our Team at G&M Forklift Hire (1993) PtY Ltd
Discover how G & M ForkliFt hire can assist your business with eFFective ForkliFt solutions For your Material hanDlinG requireMents. G & M Forklift Hire is one of the largest independent companies in Perth and provide forklift solutions for a number of companies in: Q Sales of new and used forklifts Q Long and Short Term Hire Q Quality Service and Parts for forklifts. In the past 20 years of running this operation, Quality has been our biggest standard and has been guaranteed by us from the start. G & M Forklifts were the first in Western Australia to offer a full warranty on all used machines sold and still remains today. Flexibility in customizing your operation with quality products, coupled with our unique service will provide your company with the most cost effective forklift sloutions. This will enhance your material handling requirments whilst lifting productivity and reliability that you will come to appreciate. It is our guarantee that as a support business to your operation you will be assured of our three main objectives that will cement our relationships together - Honesty, Quality and Service - all of which will provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.
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Focus Logistics 29
“We just feel that in the transport industry it’s so difficult to differentiate yourself, anyone can drive a truck up and down the coast and deliver freight but we feel we can provide an endto-end solution”
only surpassed by its commitment to safety. “We have worked hard to drive safety improvements at Regal Transport and we will continue to do so. We have a seen radical changes in the safety culture in the three years I have been with Regal and I can proudly state that we are now a leader in the industry when it comes to safety performance.” Regal comes under the Government Comcare scheme, which is a national scheme as opposed to the West Australian WorkSafe scheme. “It is inevitable that “Chain of Responsibility” and some version of the “Harmonisation” scheme, will be implemented into WA soon. Regal are already compliant with the stringent safety requirements and we believe this gives us a competitive advantage going forward and gives our customers the peace of mind that they are working with a company that is safe and compliant and we ensure all of our subcontractors meet our strict safety requirements” Regal Transport has established
a large number of depots, warehouses and storage yards up and down the vast Western Australian coastline, ensuring that their customer’s freight can be delivered promptly and safely. With their headquarters based in the suburb of South Guilford in Perth and depots in Newman, Karratha, Port Hedland, Broome and Derby as well as another facility in Onslow, Regal Transport are able to run regular services to just about any area of Western Australia most days of the week, something their competitors cannot offer. “We offer very good regular services, so a lot of companies will only go to Broome once or twice a week whereas we go four times. We go to Karratha five times a week, where most companies will only go twice,” says Mr. Everest. “We’ve got a good location in our Perth facility, which gives us access to our customers as well as the highways.” Regal Transport has also acquired a large plot of land in the township of Bullsbrook, north of Perth, with an eye towards the future. “It’s setting us up for 10 to 15 years time when the cost of operating in Perth and the congestion forces us out, so we want to be out there, ready to go.” With a committed team of experienced and qualified staff who are all invested in Regal Transport’s vision of exemplary customer service and growth, the future for Giles Everest and his team are exceptionally bright, even if the same can’t quite be said for their industry as a whole. “We’re committed to winning, it’s a philosophy that we promote around here,” says
With a committed team of experienced and qualified staff who are all invested in Regal Transport’s vision of exemplary customer service and growth, the future for Giles Everest and his team is exceptionally bright
Giles Everest as the interview draws to a close. “We’re not here to play, we’re here to win!” One gets the feeling that, with the way things stand in their industry at the moment, they are perfectly placed to do just that.
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