THE world’s largest trade exchange company this year celebrates 20 years of operations and has $8 billion reasons to celebrate.

Over the last two decades, Bartercard has grown from a trade exchange association with 63 members to now encompass 40 national franchises trading around $430 million in Barter credit each year.

The Southport-based company has also recently surpassed $8 billion in total trade exchange since 1991, with the 63 foundation members accounting for $35 million.

Managing director Brian Hall tells Gold Coast Business News that a shift in focus from trade volume to membership numbers will ensure another two decades of prosperity.

“We’ve launched a new growth plan for Bartercard that moves away from increasing trade volume, to now focus on increasing membership numbers,” he says.

“Our franchisees are committed to growing membership numbers to 30,000 businesses by 2015; a figure they believe is achievable. Increasing the number and diversity of our traders will bring new products and services to the market and present new opportunities for existing members.”

Bartercard is now trading in almost every Australian business sector with professional services, hospitality, retail, and advertising the strongest traders. The trade system is also beginning to crack the manufacturing and property sectors, but the depressed market and low profit margins are proving obstacles in the latter.

Hall, who co-founded the company with Andrew Federowsky and Wayne Sharpe, has always emphasised education on the benefits of the trade system as the vital factor in expansion.

Using the company’s technological power, he has embarked on a massive overhaul of Bartercard’s education and support services to provide ‘industry specific information’.

“The new business centre on the Bartercard website is already up and running, but we are developing the systems now to have a separate landing page for each specific business sector, detailing how and why they should use Bartercard,” says Hall.

“Rather than have potential members reading about the basic concept and general benefits of trade exchange, we will provide specific advice on how to use it in a particular industry, including testimonials from all tiers of business that have enjoyed the benefits.

“For example, will detail exactly how a company can use Bartercard to add additional value to their sponsorship of local sporting clubs and; for those who want to initiate such an agreement but have limited experience, there will be a tutorial guide for drafting a sponsorship proposal.”

The trade exchange corporation has also developed a relief fund that allows members to donate directly to charity. Barter points donated to the fund are traded by charity Aussie Helpers into products and services that will be of benefit to victims of natural disasters or disadvantage social groups.

One of the first significant contributions resulted in $850,000 raised for the victims of 2009’s Victorian bushfire disaster. The fund is raising donations for victims of Queensland’s recent floods.

“People want to help but often don’t have the cash flow to give a large cash donation,” says Hall.

“The relief fund gives members the opportunity to donate trade dollars into a charity and Aussie Helpers converts this into goods such as furniture for people who have lost their homes or belongings.”

The initiative recognises the importance of corporate social responsibility to a large, modern corporation and Hall needs to remain at the forefront of strategic management.

“The goal is for Bartercard to be traded in every country around the globe,” he says.

“We will continue trading as we are in Australia, but on a much bigger scale. But there will be Bartercard Australia and Bartercard worldwide. That’s where we hope and expect to be in another 20 years.”

Top Companies 2011 Profile: Bartercard
Managing Director: Brian Hall
Trade Volume ’10: $430 million
Staff: 80
Established: 1991

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