From one-man band to Australian Business of the Year

Australian Pressure Testing Services began as a one-man consultancy in 2002 after Paul Newbound identified a gap in the resources sector. Fast-forward a decade later, and his business has become the largest pressure testing company in Australia. Here’s how it became 2011 Telstra Australian Business of the Year.

Workplace safety is essential in the resources and construction industries, yet just a decade ago it was lacking in the sector. Newbound created Australian Pressure Testing Services (APTS) to fill this gap and boost safety in resource projects. Since then, APTS have gained over 100 employees and become the largest pressure testing company in Australia.

Its state-of-the-art testing laboratory has enabled it to maximise services and secure significant contracts. According to Newbound, his primary motivation for running the business is: “the opportunity to improve safety standards in an industry where workplace safety is so critical”.

Since winning last year’s Telstra Australian Business of the Year award, the APTS founder advises other businesses to use the awards journey as a springboard to dream bigger. Here are his tips to get there:

What’s the most important lesson you have learnt?

Successful business is about building and maintaining relationships with integrity. Trust your instincts- if it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Every time we’ve ignored our gut instincts, without fail, we’ve had to learn a painful lesson.

What are you the most important characteristics in a leader?

I believe good leadership must be based on a strong set of core values: respect, honesty, integrity and loyalty. My personal values are people-based and were incorporated into the APTS ethos from the start. I always aim to achieve win-win outcomes, and value accountability and openness. Above all we encourage an innovative approach for the ultimate benefit of our clients.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge we’ve faced, and continue to face, has been finding the right people to fit into our culture and embrace our values. We learnt that skills can be taught, but before we invest in training someone, it’s important to first identify that they will be a good fit in our company.

What have been the biggest external frustrations?

During the rapid growth of our business, we were put under severe cashflow pressures by the inflexibility of the ATO’s internal processes. This placed both the business and our employees (our external family) at risk.

How are your planning for the business’ future?

This is a family business, and mentoring my children and extended family members to eventually take over my role has been a very important part of our strategic planning, so that the future of the business is secure when I retire. Businesses shouldn’t be dependent on one person and the exit of the CEO shouldn’t mean the end of the business.

How do you maintain the all-important work-life balance?

Taking time out to recharge the batteries is important so that you can have quality of life, and also cope with the day-to-day operation of the business. Boating and fishing are my escapes- I also do a lot of thinking about work out on the boat, and I have some of my best strategic ideas during these times.

APTS’ full story can be found in a new eBook that celebrates the achievements of the 20 Telstra Australian Business Award winners from 1992 to 2011. Click here to download the eBook for free.

The 2012 Telstra Australian Business Awards will be held at the national level in Sydney, on 29 August.

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