Toowoomba’s Soiltech Testing Services has operated in South East Queensland since 1986 and is a well-known, trusted industry body and preferred supplier to many of the industry’s leading builders, developers, civil contractors and local government authorities.
With four sites throughout Queensland, the company provides soil-testing services to the construction industry, but it’s the testing performed for the mining industry that has expanded significantly in the last decade.
From the time Graeme Sheppard bought Soiltech in 2001, he built a successful business with a renowned reputation and was canny enough to make sure his future planning included an exit strategy.
As he’d already dealt with OBT Financial Group on his tax and accounting, Graeme approached Rodney Turner to lay some groundwork for his eventual withdrawal from the business.
Graeme knew his business was in great hands having appointed his son, Paul, as General Manager a few years earlier.
“Dad’s succession was originally a 5-year plan and was moving along slowly,” says Paul Sheppard. “But Dad’s health declined so the process gained momentum.”
“Rodney came to Toowoomba to help with doing the takeover from Dad to me and our meetings couldn’t have gone better. He is a natural facilitator – nothing flaps him.”
“When I called Rodney to ramp up the urgency he and Paul Emerson pulled some strings and worked late to get everything together in time.”
The business changeover, although truncated, was seamless and Paul took over the reigns in late 2016.
With the added responsibility of business ownership, Paul has his wife Elyse as well as OBT working by his side.
Former bank supervisor Elyse started in 2017 and leapt in quickly. She has a keen eye on their KPIs.
“Elyse’s handle on regular reporting is a blessing,” says Paul. “She works with Rachel Bichel at OBT to make sure our accounts, BAS and payroll run correctly.”
Paul and Elyse also crunch their numbers with OBT in quarterly business meetings and with monthly reporting.
“We work with Rodney Logan on cash flow, looking at our spending and where we can save money. We bounce ideas off him in terms of making decisions around acquiring new equipment or even wages and if we can get new employees.”
“We also look at where we can save interest in certain areas by paying for items upfront. Rodney sends us a monthly review of our figures which is easy to digest.”
Elyse currently works in their business every day but, thanks to their grasp on its performance, will be dropping back in 2018 with new staff to relieve her reporting duties so she can focus on higher-level activities.
It means that Paul can also look to the future and how he can grow Soiltech under new leadership.
The mining sector wasn’t as big when they started so residential and small industry has always been their core business. But with contracts taking Soiltech’s technicians as far interstate as Innamincka in South Australia, the good word of mouth is spreading that their experienced, technical staff produce honest and reliable results.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to reach out to different industries,” says Paul. “I’m on the tools now but I would like to step back and drive our business more than operate in it.”
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