15/04/2003 - 22:00

Mainsheet sails ahead

15/04/2003 - 22:00

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MAINSHEET Corporate is a corporate strategy and advisory firm unlike any other. While many corporate advisory firms have been established by lawyers, Mainsheet has grown up and still exists inside a law firm environment.

Mainsheet sails ahead

MAINSHEET Corporate is a corporate strategy and advisory firm unlike any other.

While many corporate advisory firms have been established by lawyers, Mainsheet has grown up and still exists inside a law firm environment. Judging by Mainsheet’s success, it is a winning formula.

The company now has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, more than 30 staff and consultants and annual revenue of $5.5 million.

Mainsheet’s origins go back to 1997, when Freehills partner Bruno Camarri and former Mallesons partner Mick Bolto had a meeting of minds.

"I’ve always thought that lawyers need to move up the value chain," said Mr Camarri, who continues to combine Freehills and Mainsheet work.

"We wanted to help clients to create their deals. There is a lot of expertise in law firms and we wanted to offer more value added services."

After some early success, Mr Camarri and Mr Bolto recognised the need to form a separate company and bring in staff with broader skills. That led to the recruiting in early 2000 of managing director Maurice Argento, who was a former Andersen partner in business consulting.

Mr Argento said Mainsheet – named after the rope that is used to adjust the mainsail on a yacht – focuses on four main areas: corporate strategy; performance improvement; corporate finance; and leadership and culture.

Mr Argento believes the "seamless" combination of services has been a key success factor for Mainsheet.

"Those four areas are critical if a business is to maximise shareholder value," he said. "We have brought them together, whereas larger consulting firms tend to keep them in separate areas."

Like many service businesses, Mr Argento believes Mainsheet’s people are another key success factor.

"They are innovative and entrepreneurial. They come from diverse backgrounds," Mr Argento said.

"And importantly, they all knew Mainsheet was virtually a start-up, and that meant they came in with a strong intent and passion to succeed."

Mainsheet has a very flexible approach to staffing.

Its team includes eight specialist consultants, in areas such as human resources and technology, who work from Mainsheet’s offices but are only engaged on a contract basis.

Mr Argento said his main focus over the past two years had been on establishing the interstate offices, but he was now able to focus on the WA market.

"We need to consolidate and sustain profits after a period of exceptionally rapid growth," he told WA Business News.

Mainsheet’s WA clients are a diverse group and include logistics company Toll, mining company Rio Tinto, broking house Hartleys, construction company Multiplex, and government agencies such as the Water Corporation and Main Roads.

Ironically, Freehills has also become a Mainsheet client. Mr Argento said Mainsheet aimed for work that was multi faceted, helping not only with strategy development but also with implementation.

Mainsheet could also generate legal and contract work opportunities for Freehills.

Mainsheet also helps to commercialise emerging companies. WA examples include communications firm Smarttrack, biotech company Conve and surfwear company Radiator.

Mr Bolto, who spends about half his working week on Mainsheet, relocated to Melbourne last year to help develop this part of the business.

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