NAB senior leaders take a closer look at Australia’s trade and export sector – providing all-important insights into how regional and agribusinesses can best respond to today’s challenges and opportunities.
Faced with a major market downturn, an innovative WA manufacturer looked inwards. The result was three core values that underpin its foundation of sustainable growth.
From its regional headquarters in Northam, 100 kilometres east of Perth, DomeShelter Australia is constructing not just a range of ingenious Shelter Structures, but also a remarkable success story.
With strong domestic sales already well established for its versatile product, the company continues to advance its ambition to become a major global supplier to a range of industries including mining, agriculture, defence and even aerospace.
For a business numbering 70+ employees, operating from a West Australian township with a population of 11,000, the goal of building markets in Africa, Asia, Europe and the US might seem a lofty one.
Before casting an eye to the horizon, though, the company looked deeply inward, prompted by a downturn in two of its markets.
Among key questions it asked itself was: What does a culture of sustainable growth look like?
“It prompted us to go deeper into the strategy, and that’s probably the journey we’ve been on for the last five to eight years,” says DomeShelter Australia Director Trevor Fawkes, who founded the business with his brother and fellow Director, Geoff Fawkes.
“We started with the company foundation, the core values, and looked at building a management team that would drive future growth in sustainability. It was a really good exercise, asking ourselves what values and behaviours caused us to be successful in any degree.
“We developed three simple core values – build trust, be agile and be a team. Then we have a set of behaviours under each one. Our team live by the values and buy into the vision of the business.”
An ethos where people are put ahead of profits doesn’t need to mean business suffers – take care of the first and the second will inevitably follow.
Testament to this was that in mid-2022, when NASA launched its first rocket on Australian soil in 25 years from a site in Arnhem Land, it chose to assemble the rocket beneath a large pair of DomeShelter™ Engineered Structures.
Meanwhile, the company continues to actively explore other opportunities around the world for its signature product, a Fabric Skin, supported by a steel framework and anchored most commonly by shipping containers, engineered to withstand a monsoon or even a cyclone.
Trevor says a key to DomeShelter Australia’s success has been focusing on repeatable, scalable operations. “For us it’s never been growth for the sake of growth. It’s growth for the sake of sustainability.”
DomeShelter Australia has grown substantially in recent years yet accrued minimal debt, says NAB’s Regional & Agribusiness Manager for Northam, Elliot Daniel.
“They haven’t had to come to the bank for too much; the growth has come because of the quality of management,” Elliot explains. “If the foundations of the management are strong then that can help build your business.
“Sometimes it’s better to grow slow and steady over the long run rather than trying to boost the business too quickly.”
“With NAB, we’ve had that sense that we’ve got a point of contact that has our best interests at heart and is responsive,” Trevor says. “We put a lot of focus in our own business on responsiveness, so we like it when partners show the same.”
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