15/04/2003 - 22:00

MPL cleans up

15/04/2003 - 22:00

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The growing community and political focus on environmental management has been good news for Myaree-based MPL Group. The company offers a unique combination of services, according to managing director Chris Morris.

MPL cleans up

The growing community and political focus on environmental management has been good news for Myaree-based MPL Group.

The company offers a unique combination of services, according to managing director Chris Morris.

Its trading name of MPL Health, Safety & Environmental Solutions provides a guide to the scope of its activities, which are spread across four divisions – occupational health and safety, environmental services, laboratory services and property services.

The potential for growth was illustrated by the success of the property services unit.

It is currently completing a contract for Transfield, involving the assessment of 8,000 Telstra properties managed by Transfield across Australia.

MPL’s risk assessment covers everything from hazardous materials such as asbestos through to the physical condition of the buildings.

Mr Morris believes MPL’s in-house laboratory provides a significant competitive edge.

The lab conducts water, soil and air testing and has a reputation for handling difficult forensic chemistry jobs.

"Turnaround time is the key," Mr Morris said.

The lab’s external clients include government utilities, mining companies and oil and gas producers.

MPL was formed in 1989 and now is jointly owned by six shareholders who work in the business.

Mr Morris said business growth was rapid for five to six years, then flattened off before picking up again in recent years.

The growth in the business has resulted in annual revenue increasing to just under $10 million and staffing increasing to more than 90 people.

The formation of environmental services as a separate division two-and-a-half years ago was one contributor to the growth pick-up.

This division works mainly in Perth and the Goldfields on contaminated site management, groundwater monitoring and environmental management systems.

Mr Morris said another significant change was the adoption of a "back to basics" strategy, which included the disposal of some peripheral activities.

MPL also changed its approach to the interstate market, with the closure of its Sydney office last year.

While the interstate markets account for about one quarter of all revenue, the flow of work is not steady.

MPL thus decided to use Perth staff, who travel interstate as needed, augmented by local contractors.

Training and auditing of the contractors, and use of the Perth laboratory for testing, enabled the group to maintain high quality standards.

Mr Morris said about half of MPL’s business was driven by government regulations, such as the requirement to conduct asbestos surveys in buildings every three years.

Plans to introduce mandatory noise monitoring at mine sites, in addition to the dust monitoring already required, will boost work opportunities.

WA’s contaminated sites legislation is yet another change that will impose more stringent requirements on property owners.

Mr Morris said high quality standards were a necessary prerequisite for companies hoping to compete in the industry.

MPL has achieved the ‘ISO 9000 Series’ quality standard and also has the ‘AS 4801’ standard for occupational health and safety and the ‘AS 14,000’ standard for environmental work.

Mr Morris believes the two latter standards, which include continuous improvement processes, "put us ahead of the pack".

To support its growth, MPL has used a range of financing options, including leasing and debtor finance.

Mr Morris said the company was now exploring a possible injection of private equity and had engaged advisory group First Corporate to assist with that process.

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