BUILDING A FUTURE: Jim and Therese Hegerty, of engineering construction company Team Group, believe the mining and construction industry is improving in Mackay.
BUILDING A FUTURE: Jim and Therese Hegerty, of engineering construction company Team Group, believe the mining and construction industry is improving in Mackay. Kieran Moran

How Mackay firm has fought back from mining collapse

MACKAY'S engineering and construction market has turned a corner and improved significantly over the past six months, with one company employing more workers to accommodate the expanding job market.

Mackay-based engineering and construction company Team Group managing director Jim Hegerty believes if companies diversify their business they will not only survive the current job market but grow their business as well.

"Over the past 10 years I've seen the biggest industry ramp-up and the biggest industry fall in the 40 years that I've been working in the industry," Mr Hegerty said,

"At the mining boom peak in 2010 we had more than 300 employees but in September 2012 we saw the brick wall coming and we started retrenchment programs which lasted into 2013.

"Anybody who did their research would have seen what was happening to the price of coal in 2012 and when the price dropped out of the market so did the tenders for jobs and it was at that time we decided to reduce our workforce."

Mr Hegerty said at the start of 2014 Team Group was successful in tendering for work with Anglo American at the Grosvenor coal mine, which sustained the company into mid-2016.

"That job was to last 12 months but in the end it lasted 18 months and in that time we built up our workforce, including subcontractors, to 130 people," he said.

"However, that work started to taper off at the start of this year and by April 2016 we had gone back to a workforce of 30."

Mr Hegerty said working on the Anglo American job had allowed the company to survive through difficult times but it wasn't until they returned to Mackay in April this year that the company realised they had to diversify their market options to have a future.

"We had been out of the Mackay market for 18 months and therefore we had to go and re-establish ourselves," he said.

"We had to sell ourselves again, so we increased our sales team, established a marketing program and started knocking on doors.

"We also had to focus on ourselves so we started to investigate ways of expanding and diversifying into new markets and we created a program to tell the market who we are and what we have to offer."

Mr Hegerty said due to creating the marketing program and diversifying the business, Team Group secured some small contracts and fabrication work which is now allowing the business to grow into the future.

"We have doubled our core nucleus of boilermakers from seven to 14 in the past two months and I expect that to grow again in the next couple of months," he said.

"We are now moving to a bigger workshop facility to accommodate the work, with room to employ 70 more people on the floor, and that is not including the fieldwork that will need to be done."

Mr Hegerty said, from his perspective, the Mackay engineering, construction and maintenance market had improved and turned a positive corner in June this year.

"The market has changed, where there is more work available and less people to do it, and even though there is no longer capital works available there is certainly a lot of maintenance work," he said.

"I think the future for Mackay is a steady growth back to a sustainable industry. There are still some perilous times ahead for some companies but the market has turned a corner and if businesses are willing to diversify into other markets I believe the future looks bright."

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