Catch up with Michael Dean of Roddy Engineering
Roddy Engineering is a long-running Tumut-based family business that provides a range of engineering services, from project management and design to manufacture, install and asset maintenance. Nick Roddy and Scott Roddy acquired the business from their fathers’ eight years ago. The business has been family-owned and operated for more than 30 years.
Over the past couple of years, Nick and Scott have been considering strategic ways to refine the business and to grow into new areas and capabilities. One strategy was to bring in new blood to support the management team.
After a long stint away from home, Michael Dean felt the time was right to move back to Tumut. He also knew what would make the move even sweeter—the right opportunity in a small company. He saw an opening at Roddy Engineering and joined them in 2019 as General Manager. Later in 2020, Chris Green (GYB Regional out of Albury) also joined the team as a business coach.
“Roddy Engineering had some great existing clients, and Nick and Scott brought me and Chris on board to help modernise and grow the business. The management team has worked closely together over the last 18 months and have really invested time in the business—we’ve done everything from writing a business plan and setting the budget, branding, making everything scalable and sustainable, looking at who we are, where we wanted to go and what we wanted the business to look like, we kicked over every rock and challenged ourselves to see what was possible,” says Michael.
The team has also looked ahead five years and defined what success would look like and what their barriers to entry might be.
“We’ve analysed our customers, and our competitors did SWOT analyses on the business with clear actions to improve aligning to our vision and values. We spent a lot of time putting scalable systems and processes in place to address safety, finances, quality, productivity, employee development and fast delivery times to our customers by improving all the steps in our supply chain—as time is money to our customers,” says Michael.
Fate came knocking, in the form of Geoff Reardon
Geoff Reardon, ICN NSW’s consultant for the Murray Riverina region, introduced himself to Roddy Engineering about 18 months ago—and fundamentally changed the business for the better.
“Getting connected with Geoff Reardon has really helped the business. We didn’t go looking for him – he just knocked on our door, and it was the perfect time; we were ready to grow our customer base into other areas of opportunity.
“He signed us up with ICN Gateway and showed us where there were opportunities in federal, state and local government sectors and helped us to understand the landscape,” says Michael.
Until that chance meeting, the business had operated mainly in the agricultural manufacturing arena and had some exposure to the energy sector. Geoff helped them gain confidence to put themselves forward for other work.
“Now we’ve become more entrenched into the energy, manufacturing, utility and also the rail sectors and worked with some great companies including Snowy Hydro Limited, Demag Cranes, Kotzur, NSW Water, Origin Energy, Visy, AKD, Wilson transformers and Future Generation JV,” he says.
The team is now working toward ISO accreditation.
Local supply chain, local relationships
“Geoff understands our business and has helped us establish good relationships with key suppliers and partners. Previously we were buying things from overseas, and we had huge lead times and sometimes problems with quality. Now we try to source Aussie made products into our projects, our suppliers support us, and we support them.
“Geoff introduced us to local manufacturers, which has led to a shortened supply chain, so the month lead time on some items has dropped away to days or weeks. Being able to finish a project early often equates to a lot of dollars for a customer and makes our submissions more competitive,” he says.
“I catch up with Geoff most months, and we measure the pipeline of our work for the next 18 months and also look ahead to what the next 2-5 years look like because that gives us confidence with our onboarding and apprenticeship programs and our ability to invest in the company,” says Michael.
Michael believes that Roddy Engineering has got the recipe right—they use quality Australian made products that meet or exceed Australian standard products, have a solid local supplier network and support their clients.
“It’s especially important to use local suppliers now, given the supply chain issues with getting things delivered from overseas and raw materials. If you can go local, it’s better. It can also be a good selling point for us when we’re submitting EOIs and things like that for different work,” says Michael.
“The biggest thing that I learned from Geoff was that to win work on ICN Gateway. You need to know what the project is. You need to keep your profile up to date and to your need to make sure you can pre-qualify for the work.
“The other thing is to be competitive. You need to understand where your costs are, how you can shorten delivery times, be able to impress your customers with good quality products and know which local suppliers you can work with,” says Michael.
Big thinking leads to big change
Spending time investing in the business has paid off for the company, which has increased profits and enabled them to reinvest in the company to make them more competitive, lean and agile.
“We have brought in additional resources, including professional engineers, CAD operators and project managers, which means the business can now operate end-to-end and move an idea to concept, design, engineering, drafting, manufacture, site install, commissioning and then the maintenance of the assets for the life cycle. We want to be there to support our customers through the whole project delivery process, upstream design, engineering, certification, drafting, as well as mechanical, specialised welding, electrical and overall project management,” says Michael.
“Previously, we saw ourselves as a fitting/welding company, but now we are much more, offering design through to site install, project management and maintaining ageing infrastructure for our Australia-wide customers.
“So we maintain ageing infrastructure and do materials handling – whether it’s in the agriculture section or in the forest and wood product sector. We’re also doing lots of safe access programs, for example, in modernizing facilities that were built back in the ’60s and ’70s, factory sites, power stations, agricultural sites or in forest product sites making things like timber and paper. This involves going on-site and then helping the customer to design, engineer, manufacture and install products, such as access platforms and walkways, to Australian standards,” says Michael.
Building the future
Nick and Scott plan on building on the successes that Roddy Engineering has achieved over the past 30 years, and the changes made in the past two years is setting the right course for the future. Whether it’s the more thorough approach to safety, using technology to increase efficiencies and to be more cost-effective and more competitive, or being able to offer a full suite of services or it’s partnering with local suppliers.
The company is committed to bringing the right people into the business. They’ve created a best practice apprentice and trainee program and also work closely with the local high school on its pre-apprenticeship programs. They are also part of the Clontarf Foundation. Currently, they have nine apprentices and trainees and see this as part of building our future to support business growth and to create opportunities for local youths.
“We’re very big on knowing that part of our future growth will be through that nursery of trainees, apprentices, and alignment to the local high school. We’ve had Year 10 students come into our business, and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to offer some of them a traineeship and a lifelong career. As our vision says, we really are ‘Supporting Big Business to Build a Better Australia’,” says Michael.
Roddy Engineering’s advice for other businesses
- Sit down with your local ICN NSW rep and look at what is out in the marketplace that you want to get involved with.
- Be proactive in building relationships and networks.
- Make sure that you can deliver what you say you’re going to from cost, quality and time perspectives and keep your promises every time.
- Don’t take on things that you can’t get a really good outcome with.
- If customers have a good experience, they tend to become repeat customers. And they tell others, and it snowballs from there.
- Above all else, have some fun along the way.