40under40: It’s said that adversity often provides opportunity, and the success of this year’s Medium Business category winner bears that out.
Injury may have cruelled Joshua Beaver’s Olympic dream more than a decade ago, but it opened the door to another opportunity the ambitious businessman has grasped with both hands.
Before he became managing director of Beaver Group, Mr Beaver sailed at an elite level and worked as a management consultant in Sydney, having completed an arts/law degree at the University of Western Australia.
“I had always intended on going to the 2008 games, going to the US, getting an Ivy League MBA and then probably never coming home,” Mr Beaver said.
“It didn’t turn out like that.”
Instead, he tore the cartilage and lining in his right hip and ended up back where he started, in Western Australia.
After struggling with the loss of his Olympic dream and finding contract consulting work in Perth, Mr Beaver seized the chance to buy his parents’ small Bunbury-based business, Beaver Mining Supplies.
“I was looking for an opportunity and I saw an opportunity to grow a business and build something I can be proud of,” he said.
Mr Beaver said he was looking for a way to make a difference and thought owning a business was how he could have an impact.
“I thought I could build a business where we could create fantastic jobs and fantastic futures and career paths for people here in Australia,” Mr Beaver told Business News.
After buying Beaver Mining Supplies in 2007, Mr Beaver moved the operation to Embleton, opened a second office and manufacturing facility in Brisbane, and launched Beaver Process Equipment, Beaver Global and Navigator Logistics within the group.
He said these businesses came to fruition because he saw opportunities.
“We saw markets or things that weren’t being serviced properly,” he said.
“And that’s the cool thing about building a business – there is no right or wrong answer and to some degree you make it up as you go.”
Also in 2007 Mr Beaver launched Slurryflex, a type of pipe used to transport minerals from mine to port.
Mr Beaver said he was frustrated the industry was using rail to move commodities when slurry pipelines offered a more efficient solution.
“I saw a gap and the back-of-the-envelope numbers say that this should be the dominant method of moving bulk ore globally, but it’s not,” he said.
“That puzzled me and then annoyed me because it has the potential to be so much more efficient than rail; it seems like a bit of a market failure.”
Mr Beaver said both his greatest professional achievement and greatest challenge had been recruiting the right talent for his business.
“The tangible things like build a strategy, create a plan, build a factory, innovate a product, I find that fairly easy,” he said.
“The hard stuff is the people stuff.
“Managing people, leading people, creating teams, creating high-performing teams, I don’t think you ever master that one.
“So (out of) what I’ve done to date, I think that’s been the hardest thing and probably the thing I am most proud of.”
Mr Beaver said the business was growing 40 per cent year-on-year and he felt like he was constantly employing new talent.
“We are hiring, we have got two recruiters on staff out of 65 people,” he said.
“I’m amazed. I spend half my time on recruitment.”
Despite the growth of his company from six employees to 65 and significant financial growth, Mr Beaver said he was very ambitious and a little bit behind where he expected to be.
“I’ve only just turned 38 so I’ve got a long runway ahead of me,” he said.
The drive to continue to improve the business remains strong, and Mr Beaver said the goal remained organic growth and growth by acquisition.
Beaver Group’s big goal for the next 10 years was to reach an annual sales target of $250 million, he said.