Managing Director, Jim Whiting, was one of seven founders of BADGE in 1983, and after the others left in 1988 he took over the whole operation with the help of another seven people – this time his brothers.
The change meant totally rethinking the company, redefining the brand and deciding what it was going to do, at a time when interest rates were high. Jim said that planning was vital at that point: “I had to sit and write a big new plan – a kind of business epiphany. With new people and new ideas, I was set to develop a great business.” BADGE has since become a commercial construction company that works across Australia with a turnover of $400m and around 280 staff in Perth, Brisbane, Maryoochydore and Adelaide.
Ten years of rapid growth
The last ten years have seen the operation grow from $150m to $400m. Jim said there were a number of reasons: “Specialising in the food processing industry has certainly been a good strategy for us. We have also made some strategic partnerships: with NACP to form the National Aboriginal Construction Partners Projects (a majority-indigenous owned joint venture), and we also partnered with construction company Perkins as part of a landmark Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the WA Government to build eight schools on the outskirts of Perth.”
The right people
Jim said that growth has also been based on a commitment to treating staff well, and making the profits needed to pay sustainable rewards (what he calls “leftover, not turnover”): “We manage things so that other workers like plumbers, electricians, roofers and concreters – can do their jobs safely. Many of our team have been with us for a long time and I want them to stay even longer. I know we will succeed while people are motivated. Accru Harris Orchard is a good match for us in that regard. They have been the Whiting family accountants for over 40 years (with the BADGE accounts done externally). This family ethos is the foundation of the BADGE culture. Accru Harris Orchard perform well for us, with consistent, reliable and sensible advice, and they give us the level of service we deliver to our own customers.”
Keeping it personal
“The secret to success lies in integrity and in giving clients the personal treatment,” according to Jim. “Staying accountable and connected to both the team that works for BADGE and our clients is important. Adopting more of a ‘family’ feel to things makes things happen the right way.”
The future holds more partnerships, more opportunities in food processing, and more work in the growing sectors of aged care and defence. Jim said that his advice to business owners is to be persistent: “Make sure you are challenged every day, and tackle those challenges with energy and passion.”
To hear more about the BADGE story, click on the video below.