Founded by Ross Williams out of the back of a trailer in 1998, Williams Metal Fabrications is proudly celebrating their 25th anniversary in business this year – and with it, a quarter century of strong business relationships and steady growth.
Now based in Elizabeth South, Williams Metal Fabrications has grown to a team of nearly 50 staff and specialises in bespoke metal fabrication for one-off projects, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, marine and defence.
Current Director and General Manager Stuart Rogers has been with the company for around 18 years and co-owns the business along with Craig and Peter Williams.
“Like everyone else, I started as an employee,” Stuart says, “so buying into the business in 2010 meant I had ‘skin in the game’ with a direct influence, motivation, and the drive to make it grow.”
In the early days, however, cashflow was always an issue.
“That caused a lot of stress and some worrying times, wondering where the next job would come from,” he remembers. “Fortunately, we had bricks and mortar as security, so we could access business loans and bank facilities.”
They also worked on building lasting relationships with external partners, such as Accru Harris Orchard.
“By building good partnerships and talking with financial institutions, we were able to find a solution to our cashflow issues,” notes Stuart. “Accru Harris Orchard helped us navigate our way through those stressful times by providing various finance solutions to get us where we are now.”
They also focused on growing their client base by providing great quality, fair pricing, and on-time delivery, thereby demonstrating their abilities and gaining new work through referrals.
He adds, “We’re proud to say that today, we have minimum debt, so our bricks and mortar are no longer required as security and the business can stand on its own two feet.” In fact, that’s an understatement: They’ve had a 300% increase in turnover from 2016 to 2023 and have worked on some of South Australia’s largest and most important projects, including the Southern Expressway duplication, the Northern Connector, Darlington Interchange and they do a lot of work with Flinders Ports. They also recently became involved in the Edinburgh Industry Alliance, made up of nine businesses, with the aim of winning more defence work.
Building a great business
“For me, a great business is one that’s 100% South Australian owned, employs local people and provides an economic benefit to the community,” says Stuart. “Our people are our greatest asset and the most important part of our business.”
He explains that employing good people and then giving them autonomy is vital.
“We hire smart people and we pay them good money, so we let them do their job and don’t micromanage them,” he adds.
He explains that staff training is a fundamental part of their business, too.
“I think the main keys to our success are staff development and education, our industry accreditations, and having a willingness to diversify and invest,” he says. “Also, not being scared to ask for help and using external consultants and partners in areas like marketing, accounting, finance, and strategy has been extremely important.” Director Sam Facy notes, “To me, they’re a great business because they’re good at what they do, they have strong business relationships, and they seek out, listen to and act on the advice they’re given.”
Accru Harris Orchard’s role in the journey
Williams Metal Fabrications began working with Accru Harris Orchard in 2007.
“They’ve played a key role in our growth and success,” says Stuart. “Accru Harris Orchard has provided us with the usual accounting services and monthly reporting, and they attend our quarterly finance management meetings, but they also assist us with strategic planning, succession planning and even personal advice.”
Sam adds, “General profitability years ago was a challenge, so we helped with moving to new software to better record their margins and report against budgeted profitability.”
“With Accru Harris Orchard, it’s not only a business relationship, but a personal one, as well,” says Stuart. “They are a truly valuable part of our team.”
With their recent growth and success, Williams Metal Fabrications is now perfectly positioned to take on even larger marine, defence, and infrastructure projects – but they no longer have any space remaining at their Elizabeth South workshop, so they’ve leased another facility nearby for plant and equipment storage.
“We want to make sure we continue to grow at a sustainable rate, and we’re putting in some software to help manage our projects more accurately and efficiently,” notes Stuart.
“We intend to continue to grow our business by developing our people, strengthening our reputation as a specialist supplier by delivering complex work packages to a diverse customer base, and building a consistent pipeline of work,” he says.
Learn more by visiting the Williams Metal Fabrications website.
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