As our facility in Melbourne continues into its second full year in business, it is opportune to reflect on the journey so far. By Ian Jongen, state manager Victoria, Ranger Lifting.
It is a big step for a business to setup in a new territory or open a satellite office—and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Let’s relive our journey over the past year-and-a-half in the hope that there are lessons our audiences can learn from our experiences and apply them to their own growth strategies.
In January 2018, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW)-headquartered Ranger Lifting opened a new facility in Melbourne, Victoria to meet ongoing demand for our products and services, principally from the city’s thriving construction sector.
Ranger had been steadily raising its profile in Melbourne and when I became available discussions progressed rapidly to establishing an operation in the city.
I remember being excited by Ranger’s growth plans and accepted a challenge to expand a subsidiary that replicated what the company had achieved in NSW. There were strong synergies between the Melbourne and Sydney markets, so we approached the task with a tried and tested business model. I have been in the industry a long time and felt that the Ranger business philosophy was a good match with my own. The formula is actually quite simple but can only be implemented with the right team and equipment in place.
At the start of any such expansion initiative, it’s important that a mutual understanding is accepted by the business partners. The day-to-day running of a startup must be in the hands of the individual at the coalface; without that freedom we wouldn’t have been able to secure the independence from which we would grow. However, equally key to the relative success we’ve enjoyed are the structures, policies, and processes that were transplanted from NSW. Ultimately, it was the clarity of this balance that made the opportunity at Ranger so appealing, to emigrate a successful business formula into the growing Victorian market.
Play to your strengths
The NSW operation was a great support in many ways.
It was clear that we had to capitalise on the good relationships that the company had with the construction and civil markets through the existing operation, for example.
The establishment of any business is not easy and even with the Sydney business behind us there were still many challenges and late nights in being able to deliver a high level of customer service with limited resources. Fast customer service both in quotes and supply is a key pillar of the Ranger business and as we grew it was not always easy to keep on top of things. We had to gain respect as a newcomer, whilst overseeing stockholding, cash flow, IT, infrastructure, etc.
In time, we went from one staff member to five, covering roles in sales, operations, and accounts / admin primarily. Having initially doubled our numbers (to two) through more traditional recruitment methods, employees three, four, and five came via word of mouth. We recently welcomed people from a competitor, which placed a yardstick by which to measure our growing presence in the industry. It indicated the way the market is thinking too.
Crucially, we were all able to consult with NSW staff and leverage their expertise, say, to get on tender lists and bid for major projects. A hallmark through the entire business—in NSW, Victoria, and wherever else we find ourselves in the future—is Service Through Knowledge. This DNA strand had to be passed down to the Melbourne site in order for us to command the same levels of respect from existing and prospective customers.
Keep your feet on the ground
Having identified early targets, we had to be astute about expanding once we were on firmer footings. We’re constantly mindful that we remain embryonic. True, the Melbourne initiative is ahead of schedule but we can’t get complacent and we’ve got to continue to use the company’s success in NSW as a blueprint: one step at a time. And always Service Through Knowledge.
Practically, that means we supply good products and services at competitive prices and, most importantly, we have significant industry experience between both Ranger branches. People can ring us directly and speak to an experienced person who knows what they are talking about and can assist them with suitable solutions in a timely manner. The same can’t be said for every place of work.
We need to protect this company culture and only through shrewd recruitment can we uphold the mantra and achieve our longer term goals.
In conclusion, I’d encourage any new operation to celebrate its early wins. Our most notable sale was a significant order for high-performance round slings. True to form, we consulted with the customer over several months to help them decide on the right solution.
I’m ready for the next 18 months. I’m sure they’ll be as challenging, rewarding, and uplifting as the first!
I hope you can learn from our experiences to help your next expansion project.
For more information contact us on 1300 SLINGS