February 26, 2024

How a cross-country gamble spurred Double R’s success

Faced by a sudden downturn in its customer base, this regional NSW business put its faith in an interstate investment. It hasn’t looked back since.

The road to success is not always a straight one. Take Double R. Started as a one-man operation in 2005 in Mudgee, New South Wales, the heavy equipment diesel mechanic almost didn’t make it thanks to “a company near-death experience” in 2012 when the mining industry took a sudden downturn.

Says founder Rusty Russell: “We were still heavily focused on a single sector of the market and a very small number of customers – you could literally count them on one hand.”

The choice for Double R was clear – diversify or die. Rusty seized an opportunity to purchase two workshop operations in the West Australian towns of Karratha and Leinster. Both provided service and maintenance to equipment and truck owners, including contractors and mining operations, in WA’s Pilbara and Northern Goldfields regions. “It was far beyond our comfort zone,” Rusty admits.

“But we embraced the challenge of, ‘Can we run a workshop 3,500 kilometres from where our first workshop is located?’ We had the ambition to know we can do this; that we can build a team and not have to have them all under one roof.

“Almost overnight, we increased our business diversity by 200 per cent by jumping into two new locations that were influenced by different economic cycles and different industries.”

Rusty and the growing Double R team have continued to add locations across New South Wales and Western Australia. And drawing on their service heritage, the past decade has seen Double R enter the truck, agriculture and construction equipment dealership space to offer sales, servicing and parts to a growing customer base.

Today, Double R is a national operation with more than 280 employees across eight locations. The business has achieved average annual revenue growth of 34 per cent over the past decade and 48 per cent during the past financial year.

“Our philosophy is that we’ve got to survive first then succeed second,” Rusty says. “We accept that our model of spreading ourselves across a lot of activities is not for everyone. A lot of businesses and competitors out there are solely focused on one brand or one industry.

“With the products we represent, and a dedicated team delivering outstanding customer support, we are ready for the inevitable challenges that all businesses face and ready to embrace the next opportunity. We’re comfortable that a drought in New South Wales or a mining downturn in Western Australia is not going to sink Double R.”

As it grew, Double R needed a banker with vision to back its expansionist agenda. It got that in NAB. “I’ve found NAB to be miles ahead in their progressive attitude and willingness to really understand what we’re doing,” Rusty says.

Sarah Christianson, NAB’s Senior Business Banking Manager in Mudgee, characterises the relationship as “a partnership model”.

“They’re always looking for opportunities, but they do their homework and we’re heavily involved when they find something they think has potential,” she says.

That has included traditional loans to finance bricks-and-mortar assets, as well as NAB’s innovative invoice and debtor finance product, which offers Double R an ongoing line of credit against owed debt.

The collaborative effort fits perfectly with Double R’s ethos. “We have a big focus on team. Grand finals aren’t won by individuals, they’re won by teams,” Rusty says. “That’s number one in our core values of the business.”

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: May 2024

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: May 2024

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The NAB Rural Commodities Index increased by 3.2% month-on-month in April, after slipping 5.7% month-on-month in March.The index is around levels seen in April 2023.

NAB Rural Commodities Wrap: May 2024