How two coast men built booming business in mining downturn
AT THE young age of 24, Yeppoon man Trent Miles, along with his 26-year-old business partner Robert Neagle, came up with the risky plan of building a business from the ground up in the middle of the mining downturn.
In 2014, a rollover protection business ROPS Queensland had announced it wanted to sell its product IP and was on the lookout for someone to purchase it.
Mr Miles, who was working at InfraBuild Steel Centre and had been pursuing the idea of starting a business in that sector for quite a while, heard of the opportunity and took it by the horns.
“Rob and I bought all the intellectual property and testing data from ROPS and started All Industries Group in June 2014,” Mr Miles said.
All Industries Group was established by Mr Miles and Mr Neagle during what is now termed as ‘the mining downturn’.
In the first year, the company had five employees.
“When Rob and I started All Industries, we were 24 and 26 years of age, and had no business experience,” Mr Miles said.
“We knew it was risky to start a new business when the suppliers to the mining industry were experiencing decline during a mining slowdown. But we knew we could learn business process and methods, so we concentrated on thinking big and following through, doing and delivering what we said we would.
“We started reading everything, learning as much as we could. We spent time to understand why we were different and what our value proposition is.
“We spent even more time to understand who we wanted as our customers and we set our sights on being their best supplier.”
Mr Miles, who is now 29, said a huge motivation for him starting the business was wanting better things for his kids.
“I come from a humble background, my parents were just Aussie battlers and I grew up not having a lot of things,” he said.
“I wanted to have things and I want that for my kids. I wanted to break the generational curse.
“Our dream is that when our kids are of age and if they end up interested in business that we can hand down to the next generation and the company can be a legacy for our future generations. That is our end game.”
Today, the team consists of about 40 employees from Yeppoon and Rockhampton.
As one could imagine, growing a company from five employees to 40 only comes through a lot of hard work and hurdles.
“I wouldn’t say our quick success took us by surprise, but it has challenged us to our limit,” Mr Miles said.
“We strategize a lot of our time on procedural and process improvement looking to maximise our safety, quality and efficiency.
“Training our staff and operating under our core principles has always seen succuss for the business and we believe as long as we do these things coupled with hard work, we can overcome almost any hurdles or competition the business faces.”
Last year, All Industries Group won the 2019 Capricorn Coast Business Award Category, The Creative One: Industry, Engineering Mechanical Award.
Judges were impressed with the leadership of the young company, as well as the drive to improve and build business competitiveness.
Mr Miles said winning the award was a humbling shock to the whole team.
“Up until that point we had never really taken the time to reflect on the position we are now in,” he said.
“Prior to that we had just been focused on our business plan and didn’t really consider the additional benefits the business now offers to the community.
“This was the first piece of recognition the team had ever received. To this day the award is displayed in the office front entrance.”
All Industries Group was listed within the top three of the Capricorn Coast Business of the Year Award – across all categories.
AngloAmerican also awarded All Industries a Supplier Audit score of 98 per cent, naming the business the best in the category.
On top of this success, Mr Miles has been nominated for the First National Real Estate Leadership Award, The University of Queensland Create Change Award and the BB Print Regional Achiever Award in the 2020 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards.
He said the nomination was humbling and came as a shock.
“I have never had this before, it’s a bit confronting to be honest,” he said.
“The thing people don’t think about when doing business with All Industries group is that when we started this, I had only just turned 24 and my business partner Rob had just turned 26.
“We are proud of the hard work and the team of people that allow us to do something out of the normal.
“Our company is our passion, people think we are crazy when we say this is our hobby and what we do for fun but never the less it is true.”
He said he really wanted to bring home one of the awards for the team.
“I would love to get some recognition for our area to show you don’t have to be in a city to be an entrepreneur,” he said.
“I have been nominated in several categories, so fingers crossed.
“That said I assume there will be a lot of incredible young talent across the state and if I come back with nothing but the exposure to the state’s young leaders that will be an experience on its own.”
Looking back at where he and Mr Neagle first started in 2014, Mr Miles was proud of all the business had achieved so far, “but it was a lot of work”.
“When you work every day, seven days a week, you don’t really take time to appreciate the small things because we are so focused on the long-term plan,” he said.
“We are getting more and more proud as the years go on, but we are still a long way from where we want to be.
“We model ourselves on people who have achieved a lot more than what we will achieve in our lifetime.
“When you are comparing yourself against Goliath it’s hard to be proud as David.”
Speaking about the future of the business, Mr Miles said this year would be a year of “consolidation”.
“The first five years were about growth and getting our site to 100 per cent utilisation. Last year we achieved that,” he said.
“This year is about consolidating and getting a bit more of a backing behind us financially, with the view for an expansion by late 2020 or early 2021.
“We also need to expand our footprint to deliver against our customer’s current contracts and future contracts.”
He wanted to warn other young entrepreneurs that taking the financial risk in hope of financial gain was not for the faint hearted.
“You need to get up early and put the gloves on for business, it is a 12-round boxing match seven days a week, 365 days a year, and the rounds go for an hour at a time,” he said.
“Fuel your brain with knowledge and wisdom, maintain a cool head and fight with everything you’ve got.
“Study men and women of the past and present and understand their life and the decisions they made to achieve out of the normal.
“When the punches wear you down just remember you will only be judged by people that are doing less than you, not by the people doing more.”
All Industries is a steel product design manufacturer servicing many industries including mining, transport, catering and local government. It is a product supply specialist producing turnkey solutions for local, national and international clients.
Judging for the 2020 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards will take place on February 26. Finalists will then be presented, and winners announced at an awards gala presentation dinner on May 8.
Category winners will each receive $2000 and a trophy. One of the category winners will be named the 2020 Queensland Young Achiever of the Year and will receive an additional $2000 and a state trophy.