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What do you see as the single biggest challenge facing your industry in the year ahead? Our biggest challenge isn’t unique to our industry, but is something that’s affecting most industries in Australia. Sustained lower commodity prices, together with tighter trading conditions, are impacting the way we’re all doing business. Add the falling Aussie dollar to this and we have an environment where customers are tightening their spend and being a lot more conscious of how they are procuring goods and services. Because of this, price increases applied to imported products are impacting how procurement teams work and adding pressure to their bottom line. Fortunately, our predominantly Australian manufacturing base is immune to exchange rates and we continue to invest in our manufacturing and R&D facilities to leverage competitiveness as an Australian supplier.

What do you feel are the three most important things your customers are looking for in a supplier? In addition to the essential traits of trust and integrity, I think our customers want someone who’s easy to transact with. A supplier who gets the fundamentals right — things like accurate invoicing, quick turnaround, consistent pricing — someone who practises good business in a reliable manner. Then it’s having a supplier who listens to what the customer actually needs, versus what they think they need. We take a specialist approach and add value to our customer conversations through the depth of our product knowledge. There are plenty of generalist suppliers in our industry and we often have customers seeking our assistance simply for that fresh approach, which can often save them money. Finally, we see that customers want someone who is nearby. They don’t necessarily want to hold equipment or large volumes of consumables at their own facilities. By having a number of regional warehouses across Australia, we are able to get our products to our customers relatively quickly.

What are your customers demanding of you more today than five years ago, and how will you meet these requirements in 2016?

We’re also seeing customers demanding more transparency across the supply chain. They want to know their equipment has been manufactured in a workplace with fair work conditions and the raw materials have been sourced diligently and ethically. They want to know that products have been independently tested and will do exactly what they say they will do. Fortunately, being an Australian manufacturer means we manage our entire supply chain and can meet these demands.

What external impacts do you predict will have the most impact on your business in 2016? Again, these are factors which are having an impact across most industries, but I have to come back to the drop in commodity prices, coupled with the falling Aussie dollar. Iron ore and coal, together with oil and gas, heavily drive industry in WA and Queensland, and as we see these projects slow down, there is a knock-on effect through the supply chain. We’re seeing the tighter cash flow and increased focus on efficiency throughout our customers’ operations. This drives the demands I spoke of earlier in relation to pricing and transparency. On the upside, the weakening Australian dollar works in our favour as it allows us to maintain fair and consistent pricing, and increases the competitiveness (and attractiveness) of Australian-made products.

Brad Lowson is the Sales Director for Global Spill Control and has worked in the mining, oil and gas, and associated industries for over 25 years.

The biggest change here is pricing. Our customers are demanding lower prices and we’re also finding the focus is on immediate cost savings, as opposed to the total cost of ownership across the lifespan of the product. Customers also seem to be more concerned about Australian industry as a whole — they like to hear we’re an Australian manufacturer and our products are Australian made. They are also pleased to see that in buying Australian made you can get high quality at the same price as many imported products.

INSIGHTS 2016 55

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Sustainability Matters Dec 2015/Jan 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Dec 2015/Jan 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...