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.
Always looking ahead is helping a regional Victoria builder create a sustainable future in an industry that’s faced many recent tests.
For Tim Sessions, running the growing family construction business, Sessions Builders, is as much about looking to the future as it is building houses all over the Shepparton and Goulburn Valley region of Victoria.
As the business has expanded, Tim has taken care to mitigate financial risks to ensure growth remains sustainable.
“When things are going really well it’s easy to think the boom will last forever,” he says. “We’ve never lost sight of the fact that business goes in cycles, so you need to be prepared for something like inflation or shortages to push up costs. We’ve been through those kinds of challenges a couple times now, so we do our best to keep ahead of them.”
Over the past several years, the building industry has experienced extreme weather events, supply chain problems and workforce shortages. Long-term relationships are helping Sessions keep growing through all of these.
“We work mainly with skilled local contractors and we’ve always gone out of our way to support them and treat them well,” Tim says. “They know we’ll take things like family demands and other pressures into account, and we know we can rely on them to do a great job.”
That loyalty works both ways.
“It’s how we can keep going when there’s such a shortage of labour,” Tim says.
Another relationship that’s key to Sessions Builders’ growth is the one it has with Dave Davies, Managing Partner, Regional & Agri, at NAB’s Goulburn Valley branch.
“I like the continuity of working with one person who understands our business, and Dave is excellent at what he does,” Tim says.
After working in regional Australia for over 25 years, Dave has seen the positive difference regional businesses can make – and also the unique situations they face.
“Along with the factors that affect businesses everywhere, there are some specific to the regions,” he says. “These include the impact of drought, population trends and competition from national and even multinational firms.
“In order to provide the most effective support, we also need to take the individuals into account. For example, Sessions Builders is a family concern which includes multiple generations at different stages of their lives.”
To ensure Sessions Builders can both sustain itself for future generations of the family and support the evolving needs of regional Australia, Tim says being prepared for and able to ride out any tough times is the key.
“If you live from day to day or week to week, you could easily find yourself out of business when things slow down. We don’t make as much money in a downturn, but as long as can keep on building, we’ll be able to make the most of the opportunities when things improve.”
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