How to grow a business from 5 to 200 employees
Paul: Hi everyone, Paul Lindsay again. This time for another session of business systems and success. Today Im speaking with Barry Borzillo, Barry is a Managing Director and CEO of Intrax Consulting Engineers. Intrax provide engineering services surveying geo-technical. They really focus on an end to end solution in the the civil space. What I like about this business is that why have grown out of sight and haven’t lost what got them their in the first place. Barry is gonna share a number of insights about their systems, their business and where they’re going in the future. Intrax have ISO90001 quality certification with compass. Lets get things underway.
Hi everybody, Paul Lindsay here Managing Director for Compass Assurance Services, welcome to business systems and success. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming and share notes can be found at our website www.compassassurance.com.au. You can find this on a favourite podcast feed or itunes. You can follow us at twitter @compassas and facebook. All links are on the share notes. Now lets get in on the show. So welcome Barry, thanks for joining us today.
Barry : Thank you so much Paul.
Paul: So Intrax is an engineering and consulting business, tell us a little bit more about what should do.
Barry : Sure. So, we are multi discipline engineering business. We have a engineering disciplines which includes structural, civil, geo technical, mechanical, electrical, forensic and survey. Our clients range from volume builders, to architects, to developers, to corporate, and governments. So It’s quite a broad range across Australia.
Paul: You mentioned to me a little while ago too you’ve also got an office in China.
Barry : Yeah we have an office in China so we provide a little bit of drafting and some engineering support out of China they are predominantly there to support our Australian operations but the longer term idea is to use it as a platform to potentially build business across that part of the world as well.
Paul: So Head office in South Melbourne, I think 3 or 4 offices in different parts Melbourne as well as Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.
Barry : That’s correct. So head offices here in South Melbourne, we have a regional office in Geelong, office in Deer Park, and office in Packenham, that’s gets us close to our clients and enables us to store our geo technical rigs and gets those rigs out to see our clients in a more efficient manner.
Paul: So when did all start with Intrax?
Barry : So Intrax was started by Robert and Danny Borzillo and, so actually they’re Brothers and cousins of mine, they started the business in 2003. They saw basically a hole the market with engineering profession particularly to volume builders was quite fragmented. They were separate suppliers supplying the geo technical service in engineering service and then things like forensic service as well and what they saw is opportunity to provide an end-to-end service to those client and basically to give them a solution which was fast and more importantly and more innovative which enable them to at least most of the time provide them a cheaper alternative to what they are getting previously.
Paul: Guessing you didn’t start with a 170 employees back then so, have you always been in Melbourne, is that where the business was founded?
Barry : Yes, so the guys started the business in Melbourne and then they move it a couple of time before and then came here to South Melbourne in 2011 so yeah. Basically, they started business with 5 employees so what a great story from 2003 until now so yeah over 220 people now so we quite proud of that but what we’re more proud of is that we’ve grown nationally and we’ve got a happy client base which is the most important element of any business.
Paul: So quite success story, well spent a little bit of time talking about how the business developed over time, what was some of the early day challenges when you first got of in the business?
Barry : I got involved initially as a non-executive director in 2007 and then became the MD and started working actually in the business in 2011. I think the biggest challenge throughout the whole period of Intrax is coping with the growth basically so we’ve been growing at 25% compound every year and with that comes challenges so that we can provide a consistent level service to our clients and when we’ve tried to do that but as we grow the challenges involved being true and continue to provide that basic level of service have been what’s keeping us challenged and on our toes.
Paul: I think lots of people would like to have those problems too, 25% compound growth year on year. Fantastic, so part of that is in terms of becoming a more complex organisation and more employees is the system around the business to support that growth, so what was some of the things that you’ve done over that time to be able to support that growth?
Barry : As you mentioned, systems and our process program were connected, so what we needed was more control of the jobs end-to-end because our jobs go from geo technical side into the office, then we need to provide a report to our clients, they then take that report, finalise their pricing, then it comes back to the business, so what we did is we mapped out our process. We introduce a cloud based system. And that’s really then enable us to get all of our quality systems to provide what we believe is a first class system and process to our clients and then enables us to deliver to their scope and to the contractual requirements so we believe its best in class in Australia.
Paul: In terms of people I think one of the areas we probably observe is that you’ve got a group of people their that have been there with the business for some time and quite dedicated, motivated and really bought in to the Intrax story.
Barry : Absolutely, so you know there’s a recent article written in The Harvard Business Review which talks about the fact that you can’t instantly fix culture and that’s a fact. So culture is something that develops evolves over time and its all about having the right people and the right way you measuring rewarding those people, and we’ve done that. We’ve got people that’ve been with us for a while we encouraging them to think outside the box, we continue to challenge them in different roles, and we believe that’s the main element of what our success is based on because of that strong leadership you can’t grow. We cant grow business from 2 or 3 founding members, it needs business as a whole to become the machine that can produce services that the clients demand, and that’s the only way you can grow at the rate we’ve grown. Our people are very important and our quality system is just as vital.
Paul: I’m sure there hasn’t been a linear growth growth trajectory with everything going perfectly right and executing a 100% all the time, so there’s some challenges or somethings that you’ve learned along the way that you’d be willing to share with the listeners?
Barry: Absolutely, so we’ve learned many things with the biggest coming from a change management perspective going from what was really been a small own-based project management system to a cloud based system meant tat people had to re-map their thinking with regards to how we operate and the challenged on having more structured process some people saw that as being bureaucratic, not really understanding that without that structure you can’t deliver a consistent efficient, effective service to your clients so it was a little bit of a cultural change for many people, but particular for the ones who had been there from the beginning. Today unfortunately some of those have chosen to move on because unfortunately they didn’t understand or see where we were going but the people that have stayed understand this fully. As well as that, for us it’s not just about having a system that produces the same thing day in and day out, we want to continually improved so for us we keep changing and today the challenge we’re facing right now is having a non-conformance process that doesn’t just look on our non-conformance but also looks at what works that when your very very busy, its easy just to do the same thing day to day , but looking at how you can improve and also what you haven’t done well is also a big challenge so we try to get our people to think that way to understand what’s working and why is it working well and if it’s not working then what are the root causes of it not working well how do we fix it not just for today but how will we fix it forever. We major challenge then is changing to think that actually we needed to go back and check it again to make sure that it’s continuing improving and that’s a challenge. When your growing fast, and people are busy, picking them to understand they’ve got to spend time is not easy. Spend time looking at the future rather than just today.
Paul: Working on the business not in the business all the time. I guess you talk us through a few quality system concepts there. You decided to go down the path of ISO9001 Quality Certification a couple of years ago. What was some of the drivers there was it was about meeting the needs of clients or improving the business?
Barry: There’s a few reasons. One is; we’re very strong on setting ourselves 3 year strategic targets and then one year targets and that was definitely one of our strategic targets initially and it gave us a goal that could be measured by an external body . It helped us acknowledge that we hadn’t got a good quality system in the place, we believe that that’s something that we then could take to our clients and our clients have acknowledged that. It also gives us access to new clients such as government body for example, some of those, i’m sure you know, having certification. But also for us in particular, the challenge for us is to continue to improve so we provide an ongoing better service to our clients. If anyone stagnates in the business community today there’s always someone out there that wants to eat your lunch. For us it’s about having a system in place that produces a consistency. The next stage for us is to have something that we can learn from and evolve in an ongoing basis.
Paul: Alright, what sort of plans in the future are you looking at? Other markets outside of China, or further growing in China?
Barry: I remember a wise man once said to me (or maybe the wise woman), dominate your local market before you go over seas. So thats what we intent to do. We intend to do the best we can to achieve the growth we can within Australia. Hopefully service more clients across Australia and the majority of our business is still in Victoria. We are hopeful that we can gain the confidence outside of Victoria. And get more of the like in NSW, Queensland, and South Australia, and maybe at some point going to WA. And from there, then we see. If we do well in Australia, we believe we can be ready then to tackle international markets.
Paul: Ok that sounds like there still plenty of opportunity for growth.
Barry: Always is!
Paul: Well, today we’ve been speaking to Barry Borzillo from Intrax. Thanks for listening to The Business Systems and Success Podcast. My name’s Paul Lindsay. Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.