TAMS Group goes back to back

01/07/2015 - 12:20

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Marine services group TAMS Group has delivered on its potential to provide flexible options for customers in the marine services sector, winning its second Rising Stars award in two years.

TAMS Group goes back to back
The TAMS team in Fremantle. Photo: Attila Csazar

Marine services group TAMS Group has delivered on its potential to provide flexible options for customers in the marine services sector, winning its second Rising Stars award in two years.

A key component of the North Fremantle-based business’s successful growth strategy has been diversifying its offerings, from a diving services and mooring installation specialist established in 1999 to a full service one-stop shop operating across the state’s ports.

In the past year, TAMS Group has undertaken a wide range of work, including refitting boats for the Fremantle Police, Department of Transport and Department of Fisheries, dredging Esperance Port, building a wharf in Henderson, and building a jetty for the Pilbara Ports Authority.

TAMS Group chief financial officer Lee Bartlett said adding new and varied business capabilities had been crucial to the business winning contracts in a cutthroat industry.

“The addition of divisions has meant that growth and expansion can be achieved steadily, allowing us to maintain a presence in a sector that had been going through a decline that some competitors have not been able to stand up against,” he said.

“No one company provides the wide range of services and capabilities that TAMS Group offers.

“We’re not a one-trick pony ... we’ve got seven different business units.”

TAMS Group now employs 350 staff and contractors, up from 275 when it won a Rising Star award last year and more than double the number of staff on its books during the 2011-12 financial year.

The business’s bolstered capacity means it expects revenue growth this financial year of 15 per cent.

For TAMS Group founder and managing director Grant McCleary, pursuing growth has always been a core value.

“It’s all about adding and growing the company,” Mr McCleary told Business News last year.

“You can never stand still.”                               

As part of the operation’s succession plans, Mr McCleary has implemented a number of strategies to ensure all senior staff members are fully focused on growing the business.

Mr Bartlett said Mr McCleary rewarded staff with shares in the private company – in exchange for productive and collaborative leadership – providing a strong motivator for success.

“I think everyone feels a sense of ownership,” he said.

“The senior managers have all got equity within the business, so as far as we’re concerned if we can keep growing and keep increasing our profits then we all do better out of it.

“Increasing our market share, that’s what we need to do, and provide better value for money and that one-stop shop; I think that ultimately will put us in the prime seat.

“I do think (we’re there now) but we don’t win every tender, so that would be the ideal way to keep improving internally; to be able to keep taking that market share.”

Mr Bartlett said TAMS Group had positioned itself between very large competitors, many of which had been hit by a marked reduction in major project work, and smaller peers that offered only one or a few specialised services.

He said adding new services over the years had been a worthwhile investment that smaller competitors could not easily mimic or afford.

“Unless you’ve got a lot of money behind you ... the barriers to entry are quite high,” Mr Bartlett said.

“It’s not just a matter of investing in assets, it’s also the people.

“It’s our people who help drive the business, not necessarily our capital assets.

“Our people are a direct result of our success.”

Drawing on staff expertise will be crucial for TAMS Group growth goals, which include short-term aims to improve vessel utilisation rates, put more of a focus on the business’s profitable maintenance services (as more construction projects slow), and continue to strengthen the balance sheet.

“The goal is to optimise gearing levels and ensure access to easily available funds for opportunistic acquisitions,” Mr Bartlett said.

TAMS Group’s asset base is ideally suited to a more difficult trading condition and can remain competitively priced without comprising margins to the detriment of the business.”

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