GRANT Wechsel said one year ago his business was about to 'go gangbusters' - and it did, right on cue.
While resources and growth are two words that don't add up in the current environment, One Key Resources is unlike the rest and has found a way to dig deep into the black.
The recruitment hire business has doubled its turnover since last year, bucking the trend in an industry that's said to be in 'terminal decline'.
The achievement led founder Grant Wechsel to be crowned the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year, at the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Gala Awards in November.
One Key Resources is forecasting a 193 per cent lift in revenue in FY16 and its headcount is expected to top 1200, with a planned addition of 300 new staff.
"For what we do, the decline or softening of commodity prices is what's driving a lot of our growth," Wechsel says.
"The companies we are working with traditionally would have employed everyone directly in a boom time and are now wanting to partner with people, outsource and have more flexible and cost-effective ways of mining.
"The way the market has shifted has driven a structural shift in how people are employed and that has actually benefitted us and I guess we are actually an early mover in Queensland."
Wechsel says many mining companies currently aren't hiring internally, and the only way people can get jobs is through a specialist recruitment business such as One Key Resources.
"We see it being that way for the next couple of years and, if coal rebounds to a better position, we might see some of those changes go back to the way things were, but we see that we will still hold a good portion of that work anyway," he says.
Wechsel is bullish about the opportunity that lies ahead.
He runs Indigenous-owned joint ventures as a separate entity outside of One Key Resources, operating from the point of view that his company's expertise in hiring, safety and database systems can dramatically increase outcomes for Indigenous employment.
"There is a lot of frustration around Indigenous jobs and government funding where people go through training and they don't get the job, whereas with labour hire, any training people get is actually on the job so they can start straight away," says Wechsel.
"The joint-venture model helps companies that are struggling to reach these outcomes on their own, with the profit share reaching more of the local community."
One Key Resources also recently acquired 25-year-old labour hire business Pegasus Employment, which has a strong presence in the Hunter Valley.
"That shows we are pretty bullish on the opportunity for ourselves, though that's not saying we don't know how tough the market is for our clients," says Wechsel.
"It's really tough for other service providers like equipment and rental, and especially if you are a miner - at networking events for my industry sometimes I seem to be the only one who is happy.
"It's a strange time for all commodities, not just coal. Prices are down on all of them at the same time."
Wechsel says mining and resources in Queensland 'could do with a shot in the arm' and he is spreading risk by turning more attention to major infrastructure projects in south-east Queensland over the next year.
"It's good the big guns in government are coming back to focus on infrastructure again and I think without the couple of public infrastructure works going on you would have contractors and subcontractors literally on their knees without any work," he says.
"Mining and resources in Queensland could do with a shot in the arm though in terms of trying to expedite the approval process of projects."
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