In late 2010, while the economy slowly recovered from the impacts of the global financial crisis (GFC), a young entrepreneur was nurturing the idea of an innovative business idea.
Jarrad Morgan graduated with honours from UniSA in 2008, where he’d studied Construction Management while working part-time on a shipping terminal. Three years later, aged 24, Jarrad started his own business, SA Construct, with a workforce of 12 people. Today, the company has 170 employees.
“[The business] was founded in April 2011 from my spare bedroom,” says Jarrad. “There was no clear direction when we started. I just knew I wanted to be in the commercial building industry and the other thing I was firm on was that we would self-perform the work.”
Small fish in a big pond
Around the same time SA Construct was founded, a government program called ‘Building the Education
Revolution’ (BER) was being administered. The program was part of the Australian government’s economic stimulus package designed to provide new and refurbished infrastructure to eligible Australian schools.
“There was a lot of government funded work available at the time but as the BER program came to a close, the work started to dry up,” says Jarrad. “Being a small business just starting out, I felt I wasn’t in a position to be bidding against major, established businesses for commercial work.”
So Jarrad and his team started sub-contracting to commercials builders. “My team was essentially made up of my carpenter mates who I hired to help me out with different cladding projects with builders,” he says.
The middle of nowhere
SA Construct’s first major job was for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) working on a project to build the world’s largest radio telescope, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder [ASKAP]. The job was located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), a remote outback region about 350km northeast from Geraldton in Western Australia.
“We worked on the roofing, cladding and fit out on this large, multi-million-dollar facility located in one of the quietest radio zones in the world – it really was in the middle of nowhere,” recalls Jarrad.
Back home in South Australia, taking on as many jobs as possible and completing them successfully meant more opportunities naturally presented themselves. This was however a balancing act, with his business growing Jarrad needed finance.
Enter the team at Perks Accountants and Wealth Advisors (Perks) Bruce Debenham, Director of Banking and Finance and Steve Martin, Relationship Manager, Jarrad’s brokers.
Bruce, who worked closely with ANZ Relationship Manager, Nick Josipovic to structure the deal, believes a strong broker / banker relationship plays an important role when it comes to securing funding.
“Nick understands how Perks put a deal together so we worked ‘hand in glove’ to understand the SA Construct business, the facility requirements for now and in 6, 12 and 24-months’ time.”
The tripartite arrangement between SA Construct, Perks and ANZ was a good fit for Jarrad’s ambitions for SA Construct.
“Working with Bruce saved us time, and in the end, I believe got us the best result possible,” says Jarrad.
“You can either keep it small and manageable or take on more jobs and hire more people.”
“And that’s how the business naturally grew. The exponential growth has come from employing the right staff to create what we wanted to build.”
“In the early days, you don’t ever think of being a big player. But as things happen, one day you’ve got 40 staff, then 60 staff, and then 90 staff.,” says Jarrad.
“It’s the challenging jobs that keep things exciting. We love being innovative. The showpiece jobs we’ve created have had a lot of innovation, research, and development which keeps the business interesting.”