14/05/2008 - 22:00

Powertech focuses on core strengths, values

14/05/2008 - 22:00


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IN just four years, Osborne Parkbased Powertech has become a formidable completions service provider for the oil and gas, power, distribution and mineral resource industries in Australia.

Powertech focuses on core strengths, values

IN just four years, Osborne Parkbased Powertech has become a formidable completions service provider for the oil and gas, power, distribution and mineral resource industries in Australia.

Operating under two divisions since 2004 - Powertech Pty Ltd and Powertech Rentals Pty Ltd - the company has flourished, from a turnover in 2004-05 of $4.3 million and 30 staff, to a projected $50 million turnover this financial year with 150 employees.

Powertech began life in 1990 as a conventional engineering service company providing electrical test and commissioning services to the resource sector in WA.

However, for more than 10 years the company tried a number of different avenues to stimulate growth, such as design, manufacturing, automation and labour hire.

Yet, even when the delivery of those services was deemed to be good, this very diversity of offering proved to be detrimental.

According to managing director Brian Grimmer, Powertech's success is derived from a culture of pursuing ideas and encouraging opinions among all levels of staff.

"You have to have a culture where truth can be heard no matter what levels it comes from," Mr Grimmer told WA Business News.

"We operate under the metaphor of the emperor has no clothes.

The person in society with the least reason to give an opinion, actually giving one: the little boy in a crowd who drew attention to the fact that the emperor was naked.

"That is our culture, where the girl at the front desk can come in and cast her opinion.

"It's the absence of absences.

The absences of fear and lies, which is the absence of those absences.

When you get it all together, you get the presences." Coupled with the benefits of remaining a private company, Mr Grimmer said Powertech's willingness to embrace change and tackle challenges had been at the forefront of its rise to the top - striving for second was never an option.

He said remaining a private business had enabled a more fluid approach to its operations, which in turn had provided the freedom to alter Powertech's strategies to meet changing market conditions and client needs.

"The best thing about being private is versatility," Mr Grimmer said.

He said although that meant defying the tall poppy syndrome often experienced when dealing with global organisations, it was a path the business would continue to take.

Powertech business director Jonathan Stow said while taking on multinationals was difficult for a private enterprise in WA, staying privately owned had been a major contributing factor to Powertech's continued growth.

"It facilitates quick decision making and allows you to change your policies as you see fit, which would otherwise be slowed down if you were a big multi-national organisation," he said.

However, the company has realised that growth is only sustainable to a certain point.

"The stage we're at now in our growth cycle is just before we use the resources boom in Australia to be an international springboard," Mr Grimmer said.

"Now we've got a winning formula we can repeat it geographically around the planet.

"But you cannot keep doubling in size - we've doubled, more than doubled, every year for five consecutive years, and logic will tell you that's not sustainable in a finite market.

"If we consolidated for a while it would be good, it would take big pressure of individuals and all the rest.

"Because we've always been grow, challenge, response, grow, challenge, response, we've continually been breaking down muscle.

"You know how, when you want to increase more muscle in your body, you've got to break those muscle cells down so they can be rebuilt.

"It's been that feeling and it's become part of our culture.

But we've been growing so fast we haven't even had the chance to look at efficacies and cost savings, cheaper coffee in the coffee jar and all that.

"But as you grow if you continue with quantity and quality you get well above average results.

There are a lot of people out there quite happy to provide mediocre services and that would be easy for us to do.

But striving for second is not an option." At Powertech, the ability to look beyond the bottom line has also paved the way for the completions service provider to enjoy mounting accolades.

That included being placed 23rd in the BRW Fast 100 Awards for both public and private companies in 2006- 07.

Powertech's standing was solely attributable to a 1,000 per cent growth in revenue over the previous three years.

"The numbers don't play an important part in the grand scheme of things though," Mr Stow said.

"They can't, because they come naturally." Mr Grimmer said the bottom line for Powertech was the end product of a carefully defined and deeply entrenched values system.

"It's about left- and right-brain thinking.

Left-brain-based thinking is price based and it focuses on the bottom line," he said.

"Right-brain-based thinking is value based, and when you focus on your values, guess what happens? You enhance your bottom line anyway.

"When you focus on your bottom line you might sacrifice on your values to achieve them.

But when you focus on your values, if you're providing a service that will give you repeat business, referrals, then of course you'll enhance your bottom line anyway." As the company continues to grow, which now includes a new office in Brisbane, it will embark on new challenges and overcome past mistakes.

With Powertech Rentals now in its fourth year, it too has established itself as a leading company in providing test and measurement equipment.

The new division has been assisted by the company's overall philosophy that, if knowledge is conserved and shared throughout any project undertaken, growth is assured.


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