Relationships, quality and persistence are the main elements of any successful strategy for businesses trying to break into the lucrative defence sector, according to manufacturing-focused staffing firm RPR Trades.
The company’s managing director Darren Da Costa told Defence Connect that after attending numerous events hosted by the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN), RPR had initially focused on small-to-medium enterprises.
Launched in 1995, AIDN is the peak industry association for SMEs seeking to transact business in the defence and security sectors.
“We've wanted to cut our teeth and earn the right to go to the prime contractors when we've got a better knowledge of how everything works and what the requirements are,” said Da Costa. “We've made approaches, primarily through the AIDN network, got to know people and asked about opportunities.”
He said RPR Trades’ core business centred on the delivery of temporary contracts and permanent skilled and semi-skilled labour.
“We identify where those opportunities exist and ask for a chance to help out, [and] how it's grown since then is really referrals,” he added. “That's where we've found the community very tight. Do a good job and people are happy to help.”
Da Costa was generally upbeat on the company’s decision to focus strongly on the defence sector, saying, “Everything we've experienced has surpassed expectations, [such as] the quality of the businesses that we meet with, the relationships that we're able to enjoy and the outcomes that we share in.”
“One of the great things I love about defence; there's no BS,” continued Da Costa. “What you see is what you get and the straight talking's great. It helps with business [because] if you haven't done the right thing – if you've screwed up in any way – you get told, so you know what you need to do to get it right.”
RPR Trades Sydney-based regional manager Sonia Gouveia said that in her specific business development management role, she had not always found defence’s doors opening easily.
“You do have to prove yourself,” she said. “You are trying to sell a service and it is your brand. It's your reputation that you're putting on the line and you do only have that one chance most of the time. I take a lot of pride in handpicking the ones that I do want to deal with and actually assist and add value to that business.”