When an emerging Indigenous civil earthmoving company, based in the Hunter Valley, put out a call for industry support to help grow its business, it didn’t take long for several established industry players to respond. That company is Yunaga Civil & Earth (YCE), an Aboriginal owned and run civil and earthmoving specialist that operates in the mining and construction sectors, as well as offering consultation services on the protection and conservation of Aboriginal heritage.
At the time, YCE had the vision and had outlined its growth strategy, however it needed funding assistance, technical expertise, quality equipment and support services. What happened next was almost the proverbial ‘perfect storm’ of collaboration, with a group of six entities coming together to offer their collective expertise, capital, services and products. Leading the charge was civil construction experts Daracon Group, who also provided YCE with a working capital loan, as well as national Caterpillar® dealer and equipment provider WesTrac that supplied the heavy machinery and SME aggregator ServeGate that was instrumental in connecting and introducing the companies.
Also present were representatives from Aboriginal owned and operated recruitment agency Asquith Workforce, that continues to partner with YCE and supply fully qualified personnel to projects, and Indigenous small business specialist, Dylan Dyer.
The support came full circle earlier this week, when YCE celebrated making its final repayment of the working capital loan to Daracon at an official cheque-handing ceremony hosted by the lender to commemorate the milestone.
Speaking at the ceremony, YCE Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer Victor Perry said the support has been instrumental to the company’s growth. “Without Daracon’s financial assistance, there is no way we would be in the cash-flow positive position we are today,” said Mr Perry. “This final repayment is a significant milestone for our company, as it not only reflects our growth and viability, but importantly it affirms our operating model and the quality of service we’re providing.” “From the very beginning we’ve had overwhelming support from each of the six entities that got involved.” “For the past 11 years we’ve toiled away with a vision to one day create jobs and employment opportunities for Indigenous people, and in the past few years our growth has really accelerated helping us achieve that outcome.” “It’s through the support and guidance provided by each of these companies that has made this vision become a reality. On behalf of everyone at YCE, we thank all our partners.”
In addition to the collaborative support, YCE also secured a AU$2m small Indigenous- owned business grant from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), a Federal Government-backed organisation committed to improving the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The joint funding between the Government grant and loan provided by Daracon Group was used to enable YCE to get its fleet established and offer more employment opportunities to Indigenous people. At the ceremony each of the companies involved in the successful growth of YCE reflected on journey so far and looked at what’s in store for the future. Managing Director of Daracon Group Jon Mingay said that through a clear vision and persistence, YCE has grown to become a successful, reputable and reliable Indigenous civil and earthmoving company. “Victor, with the support of the ServeGate team, already had a strong business plan and clear idea of where and how they wanted to grow,” said Mr Mingay. “Today they are now a viable option to be considered on all projects which is a credit to their ongoing hard work as well as the quality of service provided.”
Caterpillar® dealer WesTrac was also a willing partner going above and beyond to assist YCE, with Chief Executive for NSW/ACT Greg Graham reinforcing the Company’s support for Indigenous and workplace diversity. “Supporting Indigenous Australians is one of four key diversity categories we are focused on,” said Mr Graham. “At WesTrac we value helping local communities as well as embracing diversity as an important part of our philosophy and culture.” “YCE’s successful growth makes it an outstanding role model for other Indigenous companies to aspire to, and we hope that through this collaboration we encourage other companies to consider committing to similar partnerships”.
WesTrac supplied a variety of machinery including excavators and dump trucks. ServeGate Executive Director Leigh Coleman who played a key role in facilitating the collaboration said WesTrac was fantastic to work with. “Right from the outset the broader teams at Daracon and WesTrac were very helpful,” said Mr Coleman. “They went over and above to provide the right equipment, support, training and service required to get YCE up and running.” In addition to the generosity offered to YCE by WesTrac, Daracon and ServeGate, Asquith Workforce was also instrumental, deploying skilled and suitable personnel via its recruitment and labour hire services. “We’re a no judgement recruitment and labour hire agency who focus on skills, compliance and job match,” says company founder Jillian Asquith. “If you have the right skills, attitude and are suitable for a position regardless of your culture, race, disability or sexual preference, then you should be given the opportunity to work.” “All too often Indigenous Australians have significant barriers to employment.” “Businesses that take Aboriginal participation seriously will help curb racist stereotyping and misconceptions,” explains Jillian.
The final member of the six entities that supported YCE was Dylan Dyer, who is a specialist in Indigenous SME development and passionate about supporting Indigenous business start-ups. “It’s been a team effort but YCE is now equipped with the knowledge, skills and drive needed for success”, says Mr Coleman. He says it is time to get beyond the rhetoric of throwing money at a problem. “It boils down to gathering a team of professionals to support businesses like YCE from all angles.” “It’s helping with the heavy lifting when needed, which can be said for both Indigenous start-ups and non- Indigenous start-ups alike.”