For Civil Road and Rail (SX5) Pty Ltd, leasing products through IBA and investing in technology is what allows them to not only grow their business but also to ‘make Country feel better’.
SX5 is an Aboriginal owned contracting company in Eastern Guruma country in the Pilbara of Western Australia. Company directors are Ralph and Cherie Keller of SX5 Group, and Kenzie Smith, of the Eastern Gurama group. They’ve earned trust with the majority of the local traditional land-owners of the Pilbara region of which Kenzie Smith is a respected senior elder.
They provide services to companies in the Pilbara and have many offerings such as mine site building, manufacture and installation, mobile concrete batch plant operations and mine site rehabilitation closure.
Mine site rehabilitation is a critical aspect of the business. Co-director Ralph Keller says:
“In years gone by, mining companies could leave the site abandoned. People plunder the lands and many mine sites will never be rehabilitated.”
Ralph explains the importance of mine site rehabilitation from an Aboriginal perspective. “We’re making things green again, making Country good again. We’re making Country feel better.”
While the company had been growing successfully throughout the years, in 2020, after several years of economic downturn, the income of the business dropped. The business needed to invest in a substantial project in order to kick-start its operations. However, it was only able to secure the required contracting opportunities if it was able to provide a performance guarantee and unfortunately the business had no luck obtaining a performance guarantee from the banks.
That’s when SX5 approached IBA.
IBA was able to provide a performance bond of 10 per cent of the contract value, as required. “This gave us great confidence and the ability to grow the business,” says Ralph.
It was then that the business learned about IBA’s leasing solutions. IBA provides tailored leasing solutions by leasing plant, equipment, machinery and/or vehicles, which Indigenous businesses need in order to grow.
IBA’s leasing team was able to help the business by leasing two bulldozers and an excavator via a chattel mortgage. The new equipment has stepped up the production and quality of work that the business has been able to achieve, by using equipment that is purpose built for the task.
“The introduction of this new equipment allowed us to further develop our engineering,” says Ralph. “Which then is delivering greater quality at less cost. And that’s our commitment – better quality at better price.”
“We’re so glad we could support SX5 to grow their business and regenerate Country through leasing with IBA,” says Alex Ferndandez, IBA’s Senior Manager, Cashflow Finance. “Leasing helps businesses to acquire critical capital equipment without tying up a lot of cash that is needed to cover the operating costs of the business, and there are options for ownership at the end of the lease. In SX5’s case, we also helped to improve profit margins, as leasing the equipment is far more cost effective than hiring it.”
Ralph is keen to emphasise the importance of leasing the new equipment to SX5, as an Indigenous business: “It allows SX5 to have continuous improvement and gives the ability for SX5 as Aboriginal people to achieve our goals sooner than later and become leaders in this area of mining business.
“SX5 is a thinking company that looks at where it is, where it would like to be and what that looks like. We’re very fortunate and honoured to be on this journey.”
SX5 made an application to IBA for another performance bond so they could project manage Rio Tinto’s build of transit facilities for miners to help their health and wellbeing. The new facilities will mean that miners can shower and rest after coming off the mine, before they travel home.
Ralph is passionate about growing the business and creating opportunities for improvement. “We’ve always been a great believer in technology,” he says. “What makes us different is SX5 continues to reinvent itself every day. It’s all about technology. That’s how you achieve excellence and how you mitigate risk.”
The company is deeply committed to being a leader in Aboriginal business, and to the local community. In 2022 Ralph predicts the business will employ more than 60 people, 30% of them Indigenous.
“The most important words to us, is promote and foster development,” says Ralph. “The more business we have, the more work and employment we can give.
“This has been a great opportunity for SX5 to undertake and deliver these large-size projects.
“And making Country feel better is so beautiful and special to the Traditional Owners.”