Smart 50 2011

Smart50 rank: 5
Revenue: $22,773,882
Growth: 233.49%
Founders: Andrew Northcott, 27
Head Office: Queensland
Employees: 25
Industry: Property and business services

Andrew Northcott was a 21-year-old university student when he spotted an opportunity to place blue collar staff into the construction sector. With an $800 laptop and less than $25,000 in start-up costs he launched Labour Solutions Australia and started growing from his base in Queensland.

Seven years on, Labour Solutions Australia has 25 employees and annual revenue of $22.7 million. Over the past three years, the company has posted average annual revenue growth of 233.5%.

The growth is particularly impressive give how hard the recruitment sector was hit by the GFC, when some estimates suggest that up to 70% of recruitment sector workers left the industry.

But while Northcott admits the crisis was the closest his company has got to having a near-death experience, Labour Solutions came out the period a better business.

“To be honest, although it certainly was a very challenging time, this was one of the best experiences for our business,” he says.

“We saw a lot of our competitors drop away but this also forced us to take a hard look at our internal systems and technologies. Today the company has emerged a far more efficient and systems-driven business.”

That work has served the company particularly well in the last 12 months; a period Northcott says has been difficult for the recruitment sector.

“The general sector is quite patchy – it’s difficult to pick at the moment. But we’re going very well. A lot of the things that we’ve been working on in the last couple of years have been coming to fruition. That has certainly assisted with the growth.”

In recent years Labour Solutions has expanded into franchising, bringing on board industry specialists to drive growth around the country.

While the growth in franchisee numbers has a been a touch slower than expected – Labour Solutions now has 15 franchises, including a new one in the mining sector – Northcott says he is concentrating on quality rather than quantity.

“We’ve got a responsibility to ensure the brand is maintained at that premium level. But I think it is showing that the customers do want that personal service and someone who can make the decision on the spot because it is their business.”