By Tracey Cuttriss-Smith
It all started with one work instruction and two staff back in June 2012.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot, these past few weeks ,as we mark our eighth birthday and celebrate our $500Million milestone. That means $500M spent with local small businesses across our Local Buying Program footprints in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
A lot has certainly changed. But it is what hasn’t changed that I am probably most proud of.
As we mark our eighth birthday, we reflect upon having grown from two to 32 people over the past eight years, we have moved offices, expanded offices and grown to operating in four states across the country and replicated internationally in South America.
But… what we do, what we represent, our values, mission and reasons for being have never changed.
To me – and to our board members and team – that is very special.
This past financial year (FY20) saw C-Res journey through another phase of record growth.
It started as a year where we were treading cautiously and looking with somewhat conservative optimism ahead to the next 12 months.
It ended with us having endured a whirl of local, domestic and international activity which led to a record level of onboarding (staff, suppliers and BHP buyers!), a spike in activity to keep our regions and their small businesses afloat and an unprecedented throughput of work opportunities and claims as we navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic.
At C-Res, we joked and labelled “unprecedented” to be possibly the most overused word of the year and we closed the books on FY20, scratching our heads and looking at each other, somewhat bemused, wondering what on Earth had just happened!
It was a year of growth and of challenge; a year of opportunity.
We have developed new ways of connecting with our suppliers and buyers, with online connections made; and Teams, Webex and Zoom meetings now dominating our daily calendars. We have also commenced developing digital training packs for our BHP buyers and developing a suite of module-based How To videos which will be found via links from our automated emails and on the LBP Platform.
Finding new and innovative ways to connect and maximise the engagement between our team while we work at home and in offices– has really defined what has become our new normal.
Thankfully, while there have been so many people affected by coronavirus – our suppliers among the harder hit – C-Res, in partnership with BHP, has been able to step up and fast track work opportunities and payment claims through the Local Buying Program.
That is on top of everything else the C-Res team delivered during FY20 – from our new WordPress site, and local Meet the Buyer and Meet the Supplier events, to a number of enhancements and upgrades to the Local Buying Program platform; from the onboarding of new staff to meet our Program Administration demands to a series of projects aimed at streamlining and simplifying our Buyers’ Suppliers’ and C-Res team’s use of the program. We have increased our presence on Social media with a new Facebook Page, and we have worked to develop some timely and informative communications to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest information.
To say it has been a big financial year would be putting things mildly, and now, FY21 is all about consolidation.
Already we have introduced Operational Services (OS) into the LBP fold. Although OS had been utilising the LBP, they officially came into effect from July 1 and is a testament to the continued growth and adaptation of the program.
We are also in the midst of our SAP Integration project which will streamline processes for BHP, giving them yet another reason to engage local businesses through the LBP.
In Western Australia, we announced the launch of our new which will be supported by the Local Buying Program in The Pilbara. Just like the Queensland and New South Wales models – which, during COVID-19 lockdowns, introduced the B.I.G Futures Funding to help business and industry groups support their business members – this will help channel funding – under six newly developed funding categories – into the businesses and communities of the regions in which the LBP operates. As always, this is with a view to building the capacity and capabilities of buinesses in our asset footprints.
As I mentioned, we have come a long way since the day we processed that very first work opportunity and onboarded our first supplier. Never could we have dreamed that it would herald the beginning of something which would grow to the scale and capabilities of C-Res and the Local Buying Program as it is today.
We are starting this new financial year with cautious optimism, and playing to a fairly conservative game plan.
No-one likes it when words like recession, commodity price dips and market uncertainty start being used more frequently in meetings and conversations. But, as always, we play our hand, take a strategic and planned approach and be agile enough to pivot, change focus and / or direction as the need presents.
Above all, though, one thing matters: our ability to effectively deliver the Local Buying Program and meet the needs of BHP, suppliers and stakeholders!
To be able to make a real difference, and offer meaningful support to our businesses, is why we do what we do. It’s what the LBP is all about!