Michael, you are the Managing Director of three local businesses: Bright Industrial Group, Mid Coast Door Services and you have recently purchased Dorvik Steel Centre. Can you tell us a little bit about these three businesses and their synergies with one another?
Mid Coast Door Services is our original business, and through that business we have been supplying garage doors and automatic gates locally for the last thirty years. My parents originally purchased it as a very low scale operation, and it has now grown to become one of the largest regional re-sellers of B&D products in New South Wales.
At some stage we began servicing the industrial side of the industry, and we started to work for clients such as Essential Energy, TransGrid, Councils and some larger commercial builders. The work was mostly based locally to begin with; however, over time it built up to jobs that were based all around the state.
To more effectively target and service this industry, we started Bright Industrial Group. We now travel throughout the state manufacturing and installing overhead doors and automatic gates for the government and industrial sectors.
Having always been a customer of Dorvik, we could see a lot of potential for this business. We were also in the construction and steel fabrication industry, so we shared a lot of the same clients as them. Having Dorvik in our group now allows us to supply our clients with a huge range of different products and services.
Three businesses – you must be pretty busy! Can you run us through your day-to-day role within each of these businesses?
It is definitely a juggle; however, I am fortunate to have a lot of help around me.
My brother, Jim, manages Mid Coast Doors. He has a Project Co-ordinator and a great team under him, so I basically act as a Consultant to that business.
Eighty percent of my time is spent on Bright Industrial Group. I scope, manage and install the majority of our larger contracts.
My father is still actively involved in the business and looks after our fabricators and helps me wherever I need him.
My wife, Jayne, looks after the HR side of things.
Dorvik is a very recent addition to our business. We have kept all of the old team, who have a wealth of experience. Again, I act as a Consultant to them at this stage. I am mostly focused on improving business process and working out where things can be done better.
What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
The most rewarding aspect of being a business owner for me is knowing that we help support over 20 local families by providing them employment.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in scaling your business?
Not having enough time. I always find it difficult to teach people. I am very hands on and like things done my way; however, I struggle to find the time to show people how to do it. This leads you to get caught in the trap of doing it yourself, as in the short term it’s faster, but this approach gets you nowhere in the long run.
What are some of the valuable lessons have you learnt from serving your customers over the years?
I hate going back to jobs because something has gone wrong. There are always cheaper products available; however, going back to replace faulty product costs money and makes our company look bad. So over the years we have found the products that work and that are reliable.
What do you think is the single most important factor in running a successful, family run, regionally based business?
Finding and maintaining good staff is an art and can make or break a business. It is easily the most challenging and the most important factor for our business.
Finding work and dealing with clients is the easy part.
Is there a particular quote that you live by in business?
My father told me when I was young to “bite off more than you can chew, then chew like buggery”.
And finally, if you could invite three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
These days I don’t get time for lunch, so I would struggle to invite anyone.
Thanks for your time, Michael.