Over the past few years, it has become much more difficult for Australian SMEs to work with the local defence industry, however you need to understand where you add value, according to Livia Brady, managing director of Rojone – a Sydney firm specialising in military communications.
“I think it's really got harder,” Brady told Defence Connect Podcast host Phillip Tarrant.
“There was a lot more direct working with the military many years ago. Now you're dealing through contract negotiators and it's a lot more legal.
“They have to be, of course. That's the nature of our society nowadays, but it's made it more … disconnected somewhat.”
Founded in 1978, Rojone is an electronics manufacturer with a strong foundation in RF, GPS and antenna design and manufacturing.
Brady said the commercial culture of defence industry had become more de-personalised.
“Everything’s in a rush, everything needs to be happening in a hurry,” she added. “One project is deferred and then five minutes later it’s: ‘No, no, no, we need that one delivered and that one delivered and that one delivered’.”
Brady said such challenges had made her business rather vexing to manage these days, but she is optimistic about growth and cementing the business’ position servicing defence industry.
“We can do it because we're agile enough to do so,” she said. “I can understand other companies having difficulties, and that's where the primes like to work with us because we can go: ‘Yep, we'll drop that and we'll put that contract first, or that set of cables first, so you can start your install or hook something up or test something, or whatever it may be’.”
Brady also touched on her firm’s rapport with some of the local primes.
“We work with [a lot of] them, actually; BAE Systems, Thales,” she noted. “CEA Technologies in Canberra are an awesome company. I was there at the start of their business, which was lovely to see, and now they [are] just kicking butt all over the world with their radar systems.
“We're making an amazing amount of cable assemblies for them. We've been supporting them for many years, so that’s been a very fun journey to watch.”
In addition to defence, Rojone also focuses strongly on the telecommunications vertical.
“We do a lot of the IBC and building infrastructure,” she said. “The antennas that go inside buildings so you can use your mobile phone inside a building. GPS antennas, for instance, [and] GPS smart antennas.
“We have them in the stock exchange that synchronise the signals from the other stock exchanges. It provides timing inside a building, for instance.”