Editor's Message (2/8)

Written on the 15 September 2009

MODESTY in moderation.

As stock markets took a battering last financial year, Brisbane’s private companies were able to avoid much of the aftershock and get on with their business. But when asked about their affairs many were reluctant to reveal success, as not everyone had done so well.

There is a certain charm to this city’s private sector that unravelled itself as the edition went on, as here at Brisbane Business News we sought to recognise an aspect of the economy that often goes unnoticed, but contributes so much.

Take Terry White Chemists for instance, who in a buy-back scheme has sought to take the company away from its status as ‘a toy in corporate plays’ and into the ownership of health professionals. Then you have companies like Workpac and the Sarina Russo Group, helping thousands of Australians find work every year.

But at the end of the day it comes down to margins and some of Brisbane’s private companies have been growing rapidly.

ERM Power managing director Trevor St Baker forecasts 55 per cent growth this year, while Diversified Mining Services expect up to 25 per cent growth.

Then you have Australian Country Choice (ACC) which produces a carton of meat every three seconds as an integrated beef supplier to Coles’ northern operations. We also speak to Brisbane BMW, which has managed to increase sales of luxury cars in an economic downturn. Does this sound a bit counterintuitive?

After all, the automotive industry has been hit hard, but car parts manufacturer EGR Group plans to take on 200 more staff this year, while Apollo Motorhomes Holdings plans to become the next Hertz or Avis of the global campervan industry.

And while uncertainty surrounds property markets, Herron Todd White has managed to thrive in tough times as banks look for neutral valuations on property. As CEO Brendon Hulcombe (who protects his independence so much that he may not want to be mentioned here) says, ‘we’re not looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses and can take it as we see it – we don’t have to talk up the market’.

And when it comes to the economy at large, a snapshot of Brisbane’s top private companies speaks for itself. From retailers like Lenard’s, Eagle Boys and Wallace Bishop, to infrastructure and development companies like BMD, GHD and Springfield Land Corporation, this edition has got the lot – large IT players, glass manufacturers, legal services firms.

Brisbane Business News is taking a private approach this month, albeit in a public way, bringing to the fore the local companies that choose not to list for one reason or another. We then round it off with our Christmas events feature, because as everyone knows, you’ve got to plan early.

Enjoy our list of the unlisted.
-Camilla Westerlund


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