The most successful businesses don’t just focus solely on chasing the money – they invest their time and resources in surrounding themselves with the right people.
Each Wednesday, join me, Peter Finn, managing director of FACE Contracting, as I navigate the ups and downs of the mining industry with forward-thinking professionals from all walks of life. If you’re involved in the mining industry in any way – whether you’re a lifer or a high-school student looking to make the leap – Full Production is the podcast for you.
Aaron Teo is a prime example of exactly the type of character we want within the industry. His focus on building up team relations is something to be admired. His philosophy of going the extra mile and treating his peers like family is just part of the reason that his team has such a low turnover rate.
With his background in electrical engineering as well as business administration and management, Aaron began working for Eaton in the gas and oil sector. This paved the way towards his current position at Avid Group as a business development manager.
In this week’s episode Aaron and I get chatting about industry growth and doing it the right way, sustainability and infrastructure within your team, as well as ensuring that you permanently have the right people working around you.
We also cover other topics such as:
- Aaron’s personal story
- How his engineering career began
- Instigating good planning, and gaining a client’s trust
- The benefits of having a flexible cross-trained workforce
- Diversification and not putting all your eggs in one basket
- Ensuring you can deliver upon promises
- The challenge of growth
- Creating the right work environment for your people
- What’s making Aaron nervous about the future?
- Changing the perception of mining
- Getting excited about what’s to come
[00:00:04] Peter: Good day miners. This is Peter Finn. Welcome to Full Production.
[00:00:11] Female Speaker: In this podcast, Pete talks everything mining.
[00:00:14] Peter: A podcast dedicated to the mining industry in the Australian Pacific region.
[00:00:19] Female Speaker: From production to development and most importantly, employment opportunities of the industry’s biggest project. And here is your host, Peter Finn.
[00:00:31] Male Speaker: Good day ladies and gents and welcome to episode 57 of Full Production. Aaron Teo from Avid Group joins Pete for a conversation on the podcast today. Aaron is the business development manager at Avid Group and comes from an electrical engineering background. During the episode, Pete and Aaron talk sustainability and infrastructure growing in the right way and what’s on the horizon for Avid. The pair also discuss having the right people in your team and why going the extra mile makes a difference in team morale. Ladies and gents, over to Pete and Aaron.
[00:01:13] Peter: Aaron, welcome to Full Production, mate.
[00:01:15] Aaron: Good. Thank you for inviting me along.
[00:01:17] Peter: What’s your job title?
[00:01:18] Aaron: My job title is–
[00:01:19] Peter: An everywhere man, I’ve been told.
[00:01:24] Aaron: I’m where where the client wants me to be, man. If they’ll meet me in the moon, I’ll be on the moon, man.
[00:01:29] Peter: Yeah. You’re from Avid Group. I mean, you spoke about how– it’s funny when you meet people.
[00:01:35] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:01:35] Peter: And we met at the gala.
[00:01:37] Aaron: Yeah, the mining club, WA Mining Club.
[00:01:40] Peter: Yeah, it was a good party too.
[00:01:41] Aaron: Yeah, it’s different, you know.
[00:01:42] Peter: Yeah, I had a pretty nasty hanging over the next day. I was all right because I got to go home a little bit early. We’re just staying across the street from the Hyatt. I had the kids over from New Zealand so–
[00:01:54] Aaron: Are your kids two, don’t you?
[00:01:55] Peter: Yeah, three.
[00:01:56] Aaron: Three. Oh, shit.
[00:01:57] Peter: I won’t winge about two then. How old are your kids, they?
[00:01:59] Aaron: Eight, six and five, and two this year, yeah.
[00:02:03] Peter: So, yeah, our kids in the nest now, like Anabel’s two and Blake’s eight months. So they’re sleeping through the night now and it’s just better.
[00:02:11] Aaron: Yeah, the only time you spend the teething process happens, right?
[00:02:13] Peter: Yes, right. Well–
[00:02:14] Aaron: Teeth coming out.
[00:02:15] Peter: We’re going through that now, yeah. And your wife, Amie, I mean, is it?
[00:02:19] Aaron: Yes.
[00:02:19] Peter: Yeah, were she at the party too, wasn’t she?
[00:02:21] Aaron: Yeah, she was there.
[00:02:21] Peter: Yeah, that was a good night. We had a good table too.
[00:02:24] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:02:24] Peter: Did you have some clients in that table or you just–?
[00:02:26] Aaron: Yeah, we had a couple of my mates from Peter Young, from Balance.
[00:02:30] Peter: That’s right, he’s a good bloke.
[00:02:31] Aaron: Yeah, he’s good.
[00:02:32] Peter: He’s [00:02:32]
[00:02:33] Aaron: Yes. Yeah, that’s right.
[00:02:35] Peter: Just give a quick overview of people who haven’t heard of Avid Group and what you do?
[00:02:37] Aaron: Yeah. So basically, we are like, you know, an engineering contracting company. So we do from– I would say, the trick-heavy and below all the way down to pulling cables, but definitely focused more on what phases in wharf or the industrial mining customers or in gas, some more complex work. I know I said to give offense to those who just pull cables, you know? Yeah. So we mainly focus on more like, you know, having to do high voltage terminations, you know, and doing all the injection tests, building switch ports. That’s one of the things we do.
[00:03:12] Peter: You got a pretty good workshop set up too all the way. I’ve been for a visit.
[00:03:15] Aaron: Yeah. So we got, you know, because my background, we’ve eaten for many years, about seven years, with the relationship that we have over there. You know, the, you know, I guess, you know, when you do good work and the company, such a big company like that like a $25-billion-company that said, yep, here you go. We want you to represent us and continue the growth that we have and building on the momentum you have and then trying to, you know, say like, you know, we should do an end to end solution, you know, take the problem away from the client. But the tricky part is like, is also not trying to do the race to the bottom.
[00:03:56] Peter: Yeah. What’s your profession? You’re an electrical engineer?
[00:03:58] Aaron: Yeah, I did my electrical engineering in Malaysian, in Kuala Lumpur.
[00:04:01] Peter: Oh, yeah. Cool.
[00:04:02] Aaron: Yeah, and then I– and after I graduated, I went into working in oil and gas. So I worked on a row, in Egypt, America, Canada.
[00:04:12] Peter: Yeah, wow.
[00:04:14] Aaron: I went to Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Roma in Queensland.
[00:04:21] Peter: Yeah, right.
[00:04:21] Aaron: So–
[00:04:22] Peter: I’ve done a bit of work for Sam Thompson Roma.
[00:04:25] Aaron: Okay.
[00:04:24] Peter: I used to go around electrical contracting company. We used to wire up the wells.
[00:04:27] Aaron: Okay. Yeah, we did all the shallow well drills-
[00:04:32] Peter: Oh, okay.
[00:04:32] Aaron: -or the surveys and stuff or the wireline service.
[00:04:35] Peter: And now you’re more on mining, you focus on mining, is the Avid Group are a lot into mining?
Aaron: Yeah, I think there’s more of the industrial works that we focus. Of course, there are some, like the works that we do in the heavier commercial works in town. Like, you know, some of the universities and some of the government works, they are more, I would say the one equipment that lasts like 30-40 years, rather than, you know, five weeks.
[00:04:57] Peter: Yeah, yeah. The infrastructure stuff.
[00:05:00] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:05:01] Peter: There’s plenty of that coming online too, isn’t it for you guys or it’s just in general?
[00:05:05] Aaron: I think it’s just in general. I think–
[00:05:07] Peter: We’re sending for labor. Like, you know, as an underground kid or a mining kid, you know, [00:05:11] I cannot find them, mate. And the dudes I do know who are personal mates, I go, “Hey, mate, what are you doing?” They’re like, “Oh, you know, I’m on 220 grand or 220 and living in Sydney, in the tunnel and I’ve got five years of the work in front of me.” I was like, wow, you’re not going to come mining any rush, are you? It’s hard to compete within it.
[00:05:30] Aaron: Exactly.
[00:05:31] Peter: And I guess you probably find that in the labor front too?
[00:05:33] Aaron: Yes. Yeah. I think, of course, I don’t think it has reached the peak at the moment. But the funny thing is that everyone is trying to get all their production online and I think in another eight months when all the equipment are all ordered, and that’s when the labor market is going to really, like from an engineering perspective, I think now is quite a high impact, but the labor or the subsequent work were off the site install is going to start working up.
[00:05:58] Peter: What’s your biggest part of the business right now because you get the gen sets and all the other cool stuff that I’ve seen there. What’s the biggest thing that’s going to be, you know, besides the startup phase? Is that what’s it going to be, to actually, the mobilization of the men, the gear and getting it all online? You know, I guess you must put a lot of faith into the planning of the client too.
[00:06:19] Aaron: I think it’s both ways, like, you know.
[00:06:20] Peter: Yeah, okay. Yeah.
[00:06:21] Aaron: Obviously, the client have to trust me that, you know, what is behind you, right? Who’s next to me, right? Who’s in front of me, right, you know? If I call and say, yep, let’s go and do that shut down, you know. How many people can I mobilize quickly, you know?
[00:06:36] Peter: Yeah. You have a bigger workforce too. You got pretty flexible workforce like, you know, I guess you guys, show a bit of variety too whatever you’re doing onsite work or in a workshop.
[00:06:44] Aaron: Yeah, yeah. We’ve got about 50/50 where people go to site and do that. And then we tried to cross train them where they have both experiences in like, you know, building switch ports, troubleshooting, and then like they can go out. But I think sometimes it’s also about the personality or the person. Some of them don’t actually like to be going here and going down and some people do like it.
[00:07:05] Peter: Yeah, the variety.
[00:07:05] Aaron: Yeah, yeah. And they don’t like to be like, you know, having to do work over like 10 o’clock at night. And we haven’t turned off the power at 12 o’clock, and then having six hours to get it on. And then before the normal human being, you wake up at 6:30 and being on in the office, and then there’s no power, you know.
[00:07:23] Peter: Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about your personal journey. So actually, I didn’t know you’re Malaysian or half Chinese, half Malaysian?
[00:07:31] Aaron: Well, you know, my parents, my grandparents are migrants from China. Yep. And they were really young. You know, like they’re boat people, you know. And then, you know, my parents both were born in Malaysia.
[00:07:42] Peter: Cool. And is Malaysia where you grew up as well?
[00:07:44] Aaron: Yeah, I grew up in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur. And then, yeah.
[00:07:49] Peter: I’ve only stopped there because it’s a big international airport have you there. I stopped there.
[00:07:52] Aaron: Yeah. On the– I would say one of the farthest airport away from major cities.
[00:07:58] Peter: You go home much? Or mom and dad still live at home? Because you’re Aussie now, aren’t you? You’ve been here for a long time.
[00:08:04] Aaron: Yeah. I think it’s paid for for my parents, you know, like most parents, most Asian parents, they grew up wanting their children to stay home with them. And I think the expectation, you know, if I– as if shown on podcast, you don’t want to say that out loud, you know. Like your parents want just like a security, you know. I think that I look at– I have children and I’m like, I don’t want my children to be leaving me.
[00:08:29] Peter: Yes, right. It’s a catch-22, isn’t it? Well, it’s just funny, you got kids too, you know. Amie is from here too, isn’t she? And it’s funny like obviously, I have kids, they all live in New Zealand because my wife, Rachel, her mom and dad, and her peer support networks are there but I’m in no rush to go home. I’m from Nyngan, Cobar, I’m okay to go home but yeah, you can see how you wouldn’t want your kids, like I guess this is life and that life takes all the twist and you traveled so much that you got– I didn’t even realize you worked in all them countries and all them different, mainly oil and gas, you worked in? Yeah. The same company or variety?
[00:09:04] Aaron: Yeah, I did work for Schlumberger and Halliburton, so mainly like all the drills, all the service requiring wireline service.
[00:09:13] Peter: How did you find the transition from, you know, doing that and different legislation and different logical requirements between countries or areas? Was there much to it or–?
[00:09:21] Aaron: No, no. In wireline, it’s like we’re quite a big global standard with the geologists.
[00:09:26] Peter: Yes. All right.
[00:09:28] Aaron: So there’s not much difference. The only difference will be like either centimeters or inches.
[00:09:32] Peter: Yeah, okay.
[00:09:34] Aaron: that’s the only thing that stuff is out.
[00:09:35] Peter: Growing up in Malaysia. What’s it like, were you always going to be down this field? Were you always interested into electronics or what?
[00:09:42] Aaron: No, I actually like– to be honest, I nearly quit my electrical engineering degree. And my mother kind of like would have come and beat me up saying that, you know, I paid so much money for your school fees and here you are telling me that you are interested in something else? Like, you know, because I had a tuition business at the time I was making a lot of money.
[00:10:02] Peter: What were you doing?
[00:10:02] Aaron: Tuition business?
[00:10:04] Peter: Oh, yeah, really?
[00:10:04] Aaron: Yeah, I was like tutoring students in their, you know, year 10, year 12 exams.
[00:10:09] Peter: Yeah, cool.
[00:10:09] Aaron: Yeah, in Malaysia, and I was just like, you know, I’ll do that like Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays like working 10-12 hours just to drive from one house to another house, teaching the kids, giving them exams, and then–
[00:10:22] Peter: Cool. Well, you’re obviously pretty smart. But it’s one thing to be smart, it’s in our ability to be able to relay it as well.
[00:10:28] Aaron: Yeah, I think that’s the whole balance, right, as you know, you know, you got the EQ side, and then you got the IQ side, right? Some people are really high in IQ and then the EQ sucks, and then some got really street-smart.
[00:10:41] Peter: It’s funny, I was just talking to a mate here, he’s a mining engineer and like, you know, some engineers, they really got that maybe not so overly good academically or program wise and that’s just stuff, but they got a real good personality, and I get their concept. Then you get other engineers, some of them good mates, even NGOs are the same. They’re a little bit not really that emotionally connecting but–
[00:11:00] Aaron: Quirky.
[00:11:00] Peter: Yeah, but very smart. You just got to be out and I had to get it out.
[00:11:04] Aaron: Yes, exactly.
[00:11:06] Peter: So, yeah. It’s also, it must have felt good like, you know, teaching people’s good and hoping that they will–
[00:11:10] Aaron: Yeah, but sometimes it’s frustrating especially like if they’re not learning. Like my wife would say, I’m the worst teacher ever. I’m just impatient, you know.
[00:11:20] Peter: Yeah. Patience is a big word, isn’t it?
[00:11:21] Aaron: Yeah, exactly, you know, and some–
[00:11:22] Peter: If you have kids, you grow a lot of it.
[00:11:24] Aaron: Oh my gosh, yeah. It’s a real challenge I would say something that is being patient.
[00:11:32] Peter: So you’ve done University in Malaysia, and you ended up here in Australia and did you just come to strive for work and met Amie and that sort of where you’ve stayed?
[00:11:39] Aaron: Yeah, I did my, you know, I got transferred here. I got my 457 visa and then, you know, worked through the ranks, and then got my PR and then, yeah, I mean, fall in love, you know, when you find love, that’s it, you know, everything’s over for you.
[00:11:52] Peter: Not a bad place to find a lady either. I know you talk about– How long have you been with Avid Group? You’ve been with Avid Group–
[00:11:58] Aaron: I’ve been with them officially on, you know, on six months, six to eight months now. But you know, I’ve had a very long history with them about maybe four to five years.
[00:12:07] Peter: Yeah, cool. So you’ve known them Vans and the guys for a while.
[00:12:10] Aaron: Yeah, Vans, Daniel, most of the guys there so it’s been, yeah.
[00:12:14] Peter: I didn’t meet Daniel. Did he do oil? I met Vans.
[00:12:15] Aaron: No, you haven’t met Daniel.
[00:12:17] Peter: And they’ve been off right and how long has Avid Group been around? They’ve been around for–?
[00:12:19] Aaron: Thirteen years, 13-14 years now.
[00:12:21] Peter: Okay, so they’ve been around for a while. And you just– you obviously didn’t work with these guys when you worked somewhere else?
[00:12:26] Aaron: I was Eaton at the time, you know. And they were our, you know, our go-to because, you know, you got like you know what HSBC Bank always say, you got a global and local line, you know. So we’re eating the same thing, you know. You got all the global factories, but you need the local touch. Right? Because every company wants someone to able to have, hey, let’s have a coffee. No, not let’s have a Skype call in freaking like Houston.
[00:12:51] Peter: This is why we’re having a podcast face to face. You can do it– I do a lot of podcasting via Skype, and it comes across pretty good but gee, you can’t beat a face to face conversation. What allude you to Avid like, you know, was it Vans and Daniel, the relationship and just thought, you know, the vision on what they want to do and what they wanted you for?
[00:13:10] Aaron: I think so. Yeah, of course, because like, you know, it took a while to you know, to open each other’s, you might call my heart so, you know, your transparency with one another. And I think that you know, building this, I would say small to medium business, but like 30 people and trying to understand, you know, you’ll be talking about sustaining growth, you know, and that is another buzzword that we talk about how to get–
[00:13:35] Peter: We have talked about it because it’s the same thing, you know if you want to do work together. Sometimes it’s not what you do, it’s who you do it for, that’s a big thing. But then not only that, it’s being able to deliver like you seem for the planning side. It’s all goodwill that you in the job. Are you actually able to do it?
[00:13:55] Aaron: Exactly.
[00:13:56] Peter: Or to a standard that it is.
[00:13:58] Aaron: Yeah, because you got like tight time frames to client is to get the production up online. And then you’re like, you know–
[00:14:04] Peter: You don’t want to be the reason why the clients have any product inefficiencies or the reason why it’s not going ahead.
[00:14:10] Aaron: Exactly.
[00:14:11] Peter: Trust me. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been that person. And the pineapples are shit but they actually make you stronger like you learn from the experience. That’s me personally. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get you talk about your pineapples because you got–
[00:14:25] Aaron: We got a ton of pineapples, man, like seriously, you know.
[00:14:27] Peter: And they are good learning curves.
[00:14:30] Aaron: Massive.
[00:14:30] Peter: What– and it’s grown a bit since you’ve started as well like I was in-
[00:14:34] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:14:35] Peter: -picking up and you got some cool projects underway. Where is bloody you work at, and most of the stuff you’re up to at the moment?
[00:14:39] Aaron: We’re doing a lot of work, like mainly in the Kwinana’s. Down in Henderson area. And I think that is keeping us, you know, and I’m also about diversification. I never want to put all my eggs in one basket.
[00:14:57] Peter: Well, mining has been a bit of a suffer for that in the past-
[00:15:00] Aaron: Exactly.
[00:15:00] Peter: -people go and you know, and then all of a sudden we’ve had a downturn. And unfortunately, I think the other word is sustainability which you threw around then. But we want our industry to be a bit more certain. But, you know, I guess battle scars and the pineapples in the past make you bit more aware. We talked about, so you doing a bit of infrastructure work as well?
[00:15:18] Aaron: Yeah, yeah. We do some more for the university. So it’s kind of like, you know, making sure that we have the long term covering of our people. You know, because they also have, you know, we have toolbox talks once a month to communicate what’s going on in the company, how we plan to grow, how they can help us grow. I think it’s all about teamwork. Like, you know, like, sometimes you feel that, you know, for you, yourself, Peter, you know, you want to charge ahead 110,000 cases an hour in the organizations work behind doing like 10 miles an hour, and you’re like, what the– where are my people, man? Like, you know, like, come on, let’s go, let’s go, you know. And you heard the commander saying, Josh, Josh, Josh, and you’re like–
[00:15:59] Peter: It’s happened to me, like, obviously, now, it’s a situation where I’m trying to make a few changes in the business. And well, you got to be confident that you can deliver in it, and people are on the same page. That’s one thing I’ve learned and it’s brought up the podcast. This is a great platform that I use. It’s my internal team. Once a month, I do an internal podcast and I say to my team, hey, this is what we’re doing, this is what I’m doing from a marketing point of view and, you know, helping the industry. This is, you know, what we’re doing from a company point of view and I get the GM on and people and have– we got a really large company and geographically spaced out. So I guess, you know, the different sizes between someone like Avid and Face is depending on where you’re based and how you communicate with people.
[00:16:38] Aaron: Exactly.
[00:16:38] Peter: You got a bit of stuff in Kalgoorlie too, you said?
[00:16:41] Aaron: Yeah, we’re just trying to grow there. I don’t think like, you know, it’s more than bigger than 5% at the moment, but I think that you know, there are some existing, you know, incumbents, suppliers or, you know, service providers there. And I guess, you know, for us, it’s like, because we have that switch spot assembly and, you know, like, a lot of our engineers are residing in Perth anyway. And, you know, just trying to, you know, associate, have that trust adviser, be on the right relationship, offer a good service. You know, like, for me, it’s always trying to tell the client, you know, I’m here to offer you gold class Emirates service. If you don’t think that you want that class of service then, it’s okay.
[00:17:23] Peter: But ultimately, it’s a bit like maybe Mike said the other day and he says, commonly in the mining game, if you go for the cheapest, and actually, it’s not going to be the best outcome. And you know, it’s–
[00:17:36] Aaron: But then how you articulate that in your quote, right? How can you say, we are quality so hence, that’s why the price is this much, but then, like, another person will say, this is our quality and hence the price is this much. And then you’re like, you’re trying to tell the client, hey, that’s the difference between these two quotes.
[00:17:50] Aaron: He must know of it but once you get the runs on the board, I can deliver. That’s what it comes down to. Once you got that confidence there, they know what they’re getting and they’ll always come back. Like I do it for my clients and long term– I’ve got a lot of long term clients now, and I’ll go an extra step for them because you’ve got-
[00:18:04] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:18:04] Peter: -and I have a tough conversation. As long as you’re on the same page, you’re going to move forward. I’d be interested to watch your journey and what the future holds there because there’s obviously a lot coming online. And I presume you guys probably came to seek your teeth more into the mining game as well. Like you know, out of all your portion of work, you’ve got other mining products around Australia or–?
[00:18:26] Aaron: No, just in WA.
[00:18:27] Peter: WA. Have you talked about going to the east or I think we had this convo?
[00:18:32] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:18:33] Peter: We talked about this overnight.
[00:18:34] Aaron: Yeah, I think at the dinner but you know, the challenge for me is like, you know, you go to forsake your family to do that growth, right? And you know, like, as you appreciate yourself back in New Zealand, your wife is at home trying to sooth for crying baby, teething while you’re out here trying to make the dollar, right?
[00:18:50] Peter: Yeah, that’s right.
[00:18:51] Aaron: You know, so it’s not easy I would say, you know, and for me, it’s like for us, as an organization. It’s who we can partner with to grow that. I’m personally not willing to do that night and all the red eyes just to do all that.
[00:19:09] Peter: Trust me, I would have seen brother.
[00:19:11] Aaron: Yeah, exactly, you know.
[00:19:12] Peter: But mind me ask you a question with Vans and Daniel. Where’s the future hold for you guys? They’re obviously about your age too. Vans is about our age, maybe a bit older, I think but where’s the future head for Avid Group? Where do you see yourselves in the market in the next, you know, five or so years?
[00:19:32] Aaron: Yeah, I think growth is always that challenge, you know. As the organization, as people–
[00:19:38] Peter: Do you feel that you put the infrastructure implied? Have you had–
[00:19:40] Aaron: Yeah, I think it’s that whole thing that we talked about the whole chicken-egg story, you know, what do you put in first, you know, like, you know, you win the work, then you bring on the people. I think it’s a bit of both, you know like you know, I’m spending a lot of time now trying to make sure that the back-end is working with the front-end. Because I spend a lot of time to customer, you know, and the words that I promised to them and you know, the quality, it will bite me if I organize this and I didn’t deliver, you know.
[00:20:10] Peter: Yes. You bang on mate. So I guess it’s a matter of saying what resources are available because that goes to the next question. Because I know you got a pretty low turnover of mentor. We had this conversation a bit with me I think when we first met but that’s because he’s a really big on creating an environment and–
[00:20:28] Aaron: Yeah, like a family, you know. We talk about family like I think– it’s a sensitive topic, right, because you know, you got, oh, you’re insecure that you work for a very big organization and the first thing they call it, asset, is our people. And then meanwhile, when the economy goes to pear shape, then assets becomes a liability, right?
[00:20:46] Peter: So true.
[00:20:46] Aaron: And people are like who look–
[00:20:48] Peter: This is the topic of the number game first, the human game. And when you go to like, you know, where’s the one thing I’m looking at now from a scalability point of view is, how can I get a bit bigger and do a bit more, which I’m pretty confident I can do but also do it, this is as effective as I can count you do it well at?
[00:21:04] Aaron: Yeah. I think the challenge on that is also like, does the person that you’re working with, like your clients, are they willing to listen to the tough questions they’re going to post them? Like, you know, that they’ll say, okay, let me instead of like buying a new computer or fix all computer that I have, and then meanwhile, we still have the same problem.
[00:21:25] Peter: Yeah, that’s right.
[00:21:26] Aaron: But like, it’s a really difficult lesson like I was with a client that day, I said to him like, mate, you wanted me to change your switchgear but your key was 40 years old and then I’m going to turn off your power. And if the cable fails, I’m the one with the problem.
[00:21:41] Peter: Yes, that’s right.
[00:21:42] Aaron: But running the cable could cost like 60% of the job. Because the cable was massive, right? It’s all underground. It’s in the complex site. What are you going to do? And then they go to shareholders they have to report to and then there’s a tough question, right? But power is always the last thing on people’s mind until it goes out.
[00:22:02] Peter: Well, it’s part of the, you know, major components to function.
[00:22:06] Aaron: Yeah, to function. But nobody thinks about it.
[00:22:09] Peter: It’s funny because my dad’s a sparky, you’re dad’s an electrician and grew up around the field in general. And you even look at some of these pros you come around to, and you what-
[00:22:20] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:22:20] Peter: -electrical engineers. Sometimes the design of the infrastructures like shit. It might have been good the time, and the way things were done and, you know, that’s what people go to think about, not just the actual switch pull but I think it goes behind the scene as well. And as we know, infrastructure is now starting to get on a bit like, you know, it’s starting to go into all produce. It’s already established. Yeah, it’s an interesting conversation. You must see a lot of it.
[00:22:44] Aaron: Yeah. And it’s to say, you know, that how transparent can you be to have the tough conversation before the tender actually comes out? And is the tender really a tender? That’s another topic.
[00:22:56] Peter: A whole nother topic. Mate, what are you looking for from a labor point of view, is like, so are you looking for a lot of electricians? You know, what are you looking for currently from a labor point of view? Are you looking for many more workers or you–?
[00:23:08] Aaron: I think that we’re currently– I think that’s, you know, a good question. To be really honest, we don’t really know what is going to happen. I can’t, you know, I don’t have what you call a magic wand. I believe in God and I try to do my best, you know, and then we just say to the client, you know, when is the shutdown.
[00:23:26] Peter: Yeah. Okay.
[00:23:26] Aaron: And then like, last week, I went for a meeting and I said, the shutdown is in November, I was like, man, I can’t breathe a little bit, you know. Like you know, because, you know, we’re doing the boss and so we can plan it. That’s why, you know, you’re trying to understand what, you know, you guys are doing, how we can work, you know, collaboratively. That would, you know, add value to clients.
[00:23:46] Peter: So you’re not looking for any more workers yet then but there’s not to say you won’t be moving?
[00:23:50] Aaron: Yeah, it’s, you know.
[00:23:51] Peter: Is it a bit of a slow growth phase? Like we go, okay, we now got the scope to bring on another three or four electricians.
[00:23:57] Aaron: Yeah, I think it’s always the, as you know, the challenges, the slow-fast but a fast-slow. You know, like the whole Christmas time was like, where’s my quote? Where’s my quote? I need my quote. And then you call the client out in February and they’re like, let me think about that.
[00:24:16] Peter: So you spend a lot of energy and resources on it.
[00:24:18] Aaron: Yeah, you know, so it’s not really the client’s fault, it’s more of like the whole Australian cycle. You know, like everyone needs to get their finance in order.
[00:24:26] Peter: I find it quite hard to send it from a labor point of view? Because they– it’s the same thing quite similar, oh, Finney, I need five electricians. I needed them yesterday. I’m like, cool, so I go and do my thing. And you know, get them the five, get them some candidates to look at. And I give it to them, but because sometimes the internal delay, it takes two to three weeks. I ring me up and go, hey, and I’m like actually I had to give Aaron three sparkys, I had to give two over here. And then you sort of get to a point where you [00:24:54] And what I find really difficult is because I try not to do that but I can’t expect people to sit here.
[00:25:00] Aaron: Exactly, you can’t because you’re paying for the wages.
[00:25:03] Peter: Well, even, you know, they want to work.
[00:25:06] Aaron: Yeah, exactly.
[00:25:06] Peter: So and you know, it’s not that I don’t believe in this client or what they do, you do but it’s the turnaround. Fishing is labor market. Look, if the labor market was different-
[00:25:16] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:25:17] Peter: -you probably taken a month to get back to someone because they’re happy to wait and because they know they needed the job. They’re [00:25:23]
[00:25:25] Aaron: Like I had a client a few days ago, send me an email saying, oh, by the way, how quickly can you mobilize this thing? We got a failure on a switchgear on a weekend. And then you know, you scramble around, you call your suppliers, decide, okay, who can we go? And then you know, and then you said to the client, yep, we need to move out. The next day, the client says, oh, thank you for your help. You know, so you’re like, well, I guess, you know.
[00:25:52] Peter: It’s just what it does it dinch your confidence to a certain point. Like you want to know who’s serious and not serious. ,
[00:25:58] Aaron: Because, you know, you have to give a good quality service, right?
[00:26:01] Peter: That’s when you get them long term clients because you know what you’re– I think, was that Pete? We met at the gala dinner. The same thing, like you, obviously got a good relationship with him and he says if he wants something, this is how he operates being– unfortunately, a lot of them just fish around and then let them process. They want to see what’s happening to the zoo but ride the waves, my friend.
[00:26:20] Aaron: I know. You just got to do what you can, right?
[00:26:22] Peter: Wait for the opportunities, make the most but deliver and let it grow from there. It’s interesting, though, it’s interesting to hear that as a service provider, that we have a lot of similarities, but–
[00:26:33] Aaron: Similar problems.
[00:26:33] Peter: Yeah. He is going for engineers. You got a few engineers that work for you, some electrical engineers? You’ve got smart guys like even Vans, so I can get much of a chat with Vans but you got the persona events. He’s an electrician by trade, is he? He’s got the persona but he doesn’t say much but he knows his shit. You know, I assume you team around when you were with Dan and had a pretty, pretty smart.
[00:26:54] Aaron: Yeah, I got to trust somebody so when we get the job, I just send out the right people, wouldn’t have to send another guy out there to get to fix the other guy’s problem. You know, so that’s very important. My motto is always to have the right people around you and the right people, the right culture. You know, not just to say it but really do it. You know, like today, I picked up some fixed from a house and give to one of my guys. You know, to show that you know, like, this is what, this is real. Of course, you got to– I always believed in the principle you give and then you shall receive later.
[00:27:26] Peter: Yes, that’s right. Well, the more you give, the more you get too. It feels good.
[00:27:30] Aaron: And you give out from agenda and hard work, you know, because people can see that, you can feel that. People can, you know, it’s all in the senses, you know?
[00:27:40] Peter: Mate, I really appreciate you coming over to chat because I’m keen to see what Avid Group does. I’m keen to– I’d like to meet Daniel one day with a chance so we could– I needed to find excuses to come at there for a barbecue. I know you have a few barbecues and beers every week when the guy’s in the workshop, but I want to sort of try and wrap it up a little bit. What makes you nervous about the mining game? I know I’m trying to be really conscious here because me and you do have a lot of conversations with because we’re mates. And we do talk about a lot of shit to be frank. But to be able to just narrow it down to what you’re nervous about personally about the mining industry.
[00:28:17] Aaron: I think the issue that I’m nervous is about, it’s like, you know, the whole Brazil issue, right? With people dying over there, right? Because the design wasn’t [00:28:28] right or whatever happened, something happened. People died. And then now the commodity price for iron and ore is now up. And then what does the mining companies that are in the right place at the right time can just say, okay, let’s just pump this thing, move this faster. Okay, in layman’s term, it sounds easier, right? But the amount of grand work behind that, the push to try and grab the amount of profit you can at the expense of the people and an expense of the families because the whole thing now is around this whole mental issue, right? Suddenly, we just find that we got mental issue in the workplace.
[00:29:03] Peter: Well, it’s tough. I’m looking at writing a book this year. And one of the topics that come across is what I’m going for over a few psychologist mates, and we’re breaking this right down indefinitely. And we’re like, Full Production versus the perception of mining. Because what happens is, they want more, we all want to get more, that’s why the podcast is called Full Production. It’s all about production. But at what cost? You know, all of a sudden, someone’s had a bad experience so it doesn’t feel appreciated because they’re just a number. And this is that number game versus the healing as well. Then all of a sudden, you know, people speak ill about the industry. Like, you know, you talk about the productivity grab and you know the money grab, but a decision that someone’s made, that we had no control over, the Vale, what has happened is not the first time it’s happened. It happened three or four years ago on another mine. That hurts the perception of mining to non-mining people.
[00:29:59] Aaron: Yeah, especially you got like, you know, our kids, like, do we want our kids to be mining, right? Do I want my kids to be flying in and out? I did my fly in, fly out for my career. And then when I got married, I’m like, oh my gosh, can I do this for the rest of my life? And then I asked myself, right? You know, you ask yourself that question.
[00:30:15] Peter: It’s funny, you know, because as we talk about the perception of mining, we want to throw the word around sustainable and actually be sustainable but be able to make it a perception, and it’s hard because the media flog shit too, you know. Like they want to talk about Pete and Finn interviewing miner’s promise or Michael Worthington and Northern Star donating a blogger and doing all these charity work and you know, the mining companies do give a lot to the communities they’re involved in but you know, is it about being resourceful and resourcefulness? But you don’t hear the papers writing about it. They only hear, unfortunately, negativity sales papers or sales and but we just got to be mindful that any negative impact that someone like Vale has, it affects me and you.
[00:30:59] Aaron: Yeah, exactly. We do know that all the big companies that donate, they know the power station for someone to, you know, some of the towns up north like you know, Carnarvon and other places, you know. And you know that they do give back like seriously a lot of money, you know, that our government tax them a lot. Of course, I’ll go on and tax them more. But you know, there’s that whole balance, right? Where’s that fine balance, you know? Because the whole point is that now the market is coming back and then like where are the people?
[00:31:29] Peter: Mate, you opened up a can of worms, but you’re right, I’m nervous about it. It’s funny. It’s not the first time this session, from a podcast point of view, someone’s brought that up. Yeah. It’s a topic because it hurts. You know, there’s a lot of people who died. It’s just like me and you, no matter what their countries like from, you know–
[00:31:46] Aaron: From an economic standpoint.
[00:31:48] Peter: Whatever.
[00:31:49] Aaron: Yeah, whatever. Yeah, exactly
[00:31:50] Peter: -that they, unfortunately, passed away because of the decision that someone’s made and what makes it worse is it’s just not the first one. It’s the second one in a matter of three or four years. I don’t know when the first one happened but it’s definitely noted. It’s a sore point and everyone’s buying it, you know, you didn’t probably have much to do of tailing these dams in general. And say, oh, actually, I do have a little bit, do a few tails and loose here and there. But anyway, hopefully, the standard of overseas mining as well picks up because I know in Australia, you know.
[00:32:22] Aaron: We are leading the way.
[00:32:23] Peter: Yes, safety is number one. It’s everything.
[00:32:26] Aaron: It’s everything, yeah.
[00:32:27] Peter: And, you know, offshore mining, you know, has it’s picked up a lot I guess.
[00:32:34] Aaron: And then you hear all these stories like in [00:32:36]
[00:32:37] Peter: No, you hear it different.
[00:32:37] Aaron: -people having cancer, like in other countries where people are processing still in the town is getting cancer? That’s another topic that you know.
[00:32:48] Peter: There’s not enough history-
[00:32:51] Aaron: Yeah.
[00:32:51] Peter: -or data to give the evidence but you know, the signs are there. It’s not even the global warming and all that stuff. But you’re right. The perception of mining makes me nervous because I’m in it and you’re in it. We need to talk good or bad because like you said, there are so many things, there are so many good things that do happen people don’t talk about. What makes you excited about the mining game?
[00:33:12] Aaron: Well, I think we’re always discovering new ways. I think like, you know, like Rio Tinto talking about drilling in like freaking in the Mars or Saturn or, you know, like that’s crazy.
[00:33:25] Peter: That is crazy.
[00:33:26] Aaron: So I think that that is quite exciting. I think the whole robotics thing is empowering the AI, all this disruption in technology, you know. I think also because of this whole renewable, you know, like the whole power consumption, I believe that has also like come out stable because like, you know, oil prices to be $150 a barrel. And now it’s like you’re not human, you know, around, riding this around what, 80, I’m not so sure what’s the prime price. But, you know, I think that that is exciting that I think everyone having a fair goal is also important, you know. That’s what Australia is about right now.
[00:33:58] Peter: There is a saying that we got to get on a level playing field. Mate, thanks for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate you giving me the time.
[00:34:07] Aaron: Yeah, I really appreciate.
[00:34:07] Peter: We’ve been talking about for a while. Funny we’ve met people. I’m happy to get you on? I’d like to talk to Dan, I don’t think Vans would come on but I think Dan would be keen to come on, do you think?
[00:34:16] Aaron: Yeah, I think so.
[00:34:16] Peter: Oh, you brought him up for me, you know. I’ll come over for a few beers and a barbecue one day. But what’s the best way for people to look out Avid Group and get a hold of yourself like an email address, website, Facebook?
[00:34:27] Aaron: Yeah, just you know, just look us up on every group, you know, EPG Group and go from there.
[00:34:34] Peter: Cool, mate.
[00:34:34] Aaron: I think always the phone call is always the way to go, you know. That’s the best.
[00:34:40] Peter: Mate, I really appreciate you give me a time and I’m looking forward to watching Avid group, brother.
[00:34:44] Aaron: Yeah, same here, man.
[00:34:45] Peter: Cheers mate.
[00:34:47] Male Speaker: Aaron, thank you for taking the time to come on Full Production and thank you to all of our listeners, stick around because we have plenty of new guests and yarns coming up in the future episodes of the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Full Production Facebook group to get amongst the conversation and keep up with the latest. Catch you next week. Cheers.