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Indigenous Business Month - Lean times doesn’t mean end times

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A man wearing a red checked shirt and black rimmed glasses looks at camera. In the background are bushes, a fence and some grass. Above him is a ceiling.
Chief Executive Officer Paul Dodd
31 Oct 2019

Recognising a gap in the market helps to establish a successful business. But that’s just the beginning!

In 2013 Bundjalung man Paul Dodd and potential business partner Jamie Williams recognised there were opportunities in the market place for an apparel, personal protective equipment and promotional merchandise business.

The new business could work using an online purchasing platform which provided a quality client centred service.

‘Importantly, we found that we had shared values around business and social impact, and we had a platform, skill set and networks to activate the business,’ Paul said.

They called their new company Geared Up Culcha.

‘The first 2 years were very slow and lean. We were working from our homes, then we tendered and won a national contract with Cummins, a large corporate. Since then, our sales and client base have continued to grow exponentially.’

Today the company has a presence in Melbourne, Sydney, South Australia and Brisbane where their 600 square metre central warehouse/office is located.

‘I think we are successful due to a number of factors,’ Paul said.

‘Firstly, having a tier one company like Cummins take a punt on us, an Indigenous SME (small to medium enterprise) early, gave us immense confidence that “yes we can” and importantly it validated our persistence and self-belief through the lean times!’

‘A major factor of our success is our business culture, our team and our client centred approach.’

‘Also, our agility and ability to listen to our clients, provide advice and deliver on time and on budget makes us the successful business we are today.’

The company always looks to the future by investing heavily back into the business to ensure it has internal capability and capacity. 

‘This includes our digital ordering platforms, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, our embroidery machines, wide format printer and heat seal pad printer,’ Paul said.

Geared Up Culcha has a goal to become the Amazon of the industry but it’s not just the profit margin that drives the company.

‘We want each of our state distribution centres with at least 50% Indigenous employment,’ Paul said.

‘We want to enhance the social and economic wellbeing of the communities where our employees live and where we operate.’

Man in blue shirt at left, blonde woman in dark blue shirt in middle and at right, man in blue shirt. In background is a poster and work wear on a rail.
From left: Jamie Williams, Shani Dodd and Paul Dodd

Paul has advice for any Indigenous people thinking of starting a business:

  • Follow your dream
  • Crawl before you walk
  • Ensure you have the capabilities and capacity to deliver
  • Focus on what you do well.
  • Be resilient – it is an evolution not a revolution and,
  • No Data No Decision (it takes away emotional decision making)

Geared Up Culcha’s clients include major corporations but also government agencies such as the ABC, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, National Indigenous Australian Agency, the Australian Defence Force and more.

‘The launch of the Indigenous Procurement Policy has been a game changer for all Indigenous businesses.  It has and continues to enable Indigenous business development, growth and success across the country,’ Paul said.

Now’s the time to make that dream a reality.

Find out more

The Australian Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) helps to drive demand for Indigenous goods and services, stimulate Indigenous economic development and grow the Indigenous business sector.

For help in expanding your customer base, visit Supply Nation.

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