GROWTH AFTER BATTLING NATURAL DISASTERS

Written on the 3 January 2012

GROWTH AFTER BATTLING NATURAL DISASTERS

AFTER a tough 12 months managing a spike in insurance claims from the natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand, Stream Group has achieved 260 per cent growth.

CEO Don McKenzie (pictured) says building resources to meet the needs of his clients is key to the company’s future growth.

“There have been a number of natural disasters over the past 12 months – last year we forecast claims of 26,000 for the financial year, however we ended up completing 35,600,” he says.

“In our industry, you have to balance expertise with systems, so we’ve been investing in systems to make them easier to use and once we’ve also invested in training staff by implementing large scale training initiatives.”

McKenzie says challenges in the future, as always, will be dependent on the weather.

“We need to be ready to handle a high volume of claims with little to no notice – in a hail storm we get no notice and then have thousands of claims we need to handle, so maintaining a state of readiness is paramount,” he says.

“The systems we’ve been building to help us achieve this have been in development for several years and we started Stream four years ago, so it’s been a long investment – it hasn’t been an overnight thing.”

McKenzie clinched the Trailblazer Award at the 2010 Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

It started a roll of accolades and recognition for Stream which went on to win the Telstra Business Awards’ Queensland Business of the Year in July 2011 and ‘innovation of the year’ at the insurance industry awards in New Zealand this month.

“It’s great to receive recognition, particularly for innovation because it’s something we’re constantly working on. We’re always working on our systems and innovating ways to do things better,” he says.

“We’re also unique in the fact that we offer a complete repair management process, using a fully online system to manage claims from first customer contact until the repairs are complete.”

McKenzie started the business with $600,000 and later received a $100,000 cash injection from Nightingale Partners in late 2010.

“In 2001, I was working in the family business doing home improvement work and one of our customers was an insurer who was growing his business. In 2007, we saw the company was moving in a different direction, so we sold the construction company and went out and built Stream from there,” he says.

“The business wasn’t new to me; I just progressed from being an insurance builder to a broader provider.”

McKenzie is now looking at a range of projects including acquisitions, developing systems offshore and running pilot programs in Malaysia.

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YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALIST
Don McKenzie
Stream Group
INSURANCE
Age: 28
Business Est: 2009
Staff: 145
Growth: 260 per cent
Turnover: $70 million


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