Indigenous labour hire company Moonyah Workforce, a company founded by former Wallabies stars Saia and Anthony Fainga’a, has secured a major contract on the $1.2 billion third stage of the Gold Coast light rail.
The multimillion-dollar contract, which will deliver traffic control services for the light rail extension from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, caps off a solid run of contract wins for the Supply Nation-certified startup which now counts Cleanaway, Austek Asphalt Services and Lendlease among its clients.
The Gold Coast light rail contract, which will offer a foundation for growth over the next three years, builds on a major defence force contract the company secured in Western Australia and puts the Brisbane-based company on the radar of the light rail’s lead contractor John Holland.
“This is a huge package for our business, and this will set the platform going into the Olympics,” Anthony Fainga’a tells Business News Australia.
“Over the next three years we will have consistent work for the people on our books. It will give them more certainty in an industry that is currently facing so much uncertainty.”
The Fainga’a twins founded Moonyah Workforce after Anthony hung up his boots in 2019 following a career that saw the brothers gain Test selection for the Wallabies. The duo played representative rugby for the Brumbies and Queensland Reds, while Saia relocated to the UK where he played for London Irish until 2021.
After dabbling in property development and player management interests, the brothers decided to move into workforce management, taking the advice of their father that they needed to have something other than sport to fall back on.
Moonyah Workforce has since expanded to provide workers for a broad range of industries from waste management to civil construction and logistics.
“We now work with some really strong companies, going from spot traffic control to having some real consistency in the work we do,” says Anthony.
“We have been building slowly. It’s not a race to the top. We’re just making sure that what we’ve taken on we can deliver.
‘We also want to give hope to young Indigenous or Polynesian kids that they can run a business. Sport isn’t the only way.”
Moonyah Workforce has up to 600 people with a range of capabilities on its books, with the Gold Coast light rail contract expected to employ between 60 and 100 people over the next three years.
“While we are an Indigenous business, we offer equal opportunity across the board,” says Anthony.
“What I think we really do well is we understand some of the complexities around Indigenous and Polynesian heritage, but we give equal opportunity for anyone who wants to work hard.”
The Fainga’a brothers come from humble beginnings, growing up in a Queanbeyan hotel with their parents before forging successful rugby careers. Their late father, a hotel security guard who was skilled at diffusing arguments, was Tongan and their mother is a Bundjalung woman whose Country is located in northern NSW. The brothers learnt valuable people skills in that environment.
Moonyah is the Bundjalung word for ‘safe house’, which Anthony says is one of the company’s founding principles.
“Anyone that comes on board, this is their safe house and it doesn’t matter what their industry is,” he says.
“We’re here to help them get work, to respect them, provide a safe place to be and get them home safely. I know what it’s like to not be heard or be trodden on. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from or what your situation is, everyone deserves a chance at a better future.
“We’ve slowly built our capabilities over the years, and we’ve built a really strong team around that ethos.”
Moonyah Workforce is looking to expand further, with the light-rail contract part of a 15-year plan by the founders that includes ambitions to one day list on the Australian Stock Exchange. The business is upping its game on that score by using technology to streamline its operations.
“We are automating our systems, and becoming more efficient in the way we allocate staff,” says Anthony.
“It’s really about putting processes in place to make it a better business and one that will attract people to us. We have a huge capacity to grow and we’re always looking for more work and recruiting people.”
Anthony concedes the business is operating in a competitive space.
“There are some huge payers in this field,” he says. “We’re not very big but we keep our head down and look after doing our bit. I’ve seen how the industry works and I just want to do it better.”
The brothers draw on their experience in competitive sports to keep them at the top of their game.
“Rugby was a huge part of our life, especially around selection, because every week you might get picked or not picked to play,” says Anthony.
“It doesn’t matter if you have the best game in rugby, your job could still be up for grabs.
“To win some of these bigger contracts is really rewarding because we work hard to make sure that people don’t have a reason not to pick us.”
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