Diversifying globally earns IESA export award honours
ROSS Neivandt could probably base his business in New York where he could spend more time enjoying the view from the Chrysler building.
Or he could use Chile as a base.
But he will continue to operate his environmental consultancy business, IESA, from Mackay for now for two good reasons - his family is here and a large part of his core-business field services occur in mines west of the city.
However the business is positioning itself to play in the global village by providing expertise, equipment and training to countries hungry for development knowledge.
IESA has been in the spotlight in recent days after picking up the Richard Joel Award for emerging exporter of the year at the Queensland Export Awards on Thursday.
Mr Neivandt said he was surprised to win, but take a glimpse at what the business has achieved since representatives were invited to join trade missions to Latin America about two and a half years ago and you probably won't be.
"In a nutshell, we're an Australian entity which has a reputation for doing what we do very well," Mr Neivandt said.
"We've been doing it for a long time (20 years), and we're the preferred provider for a number of businesses.
"It was going well in Australia.
"However, when I reviewed our objectives and vision, it was very obvious that in the next downturn here, we would be vulnerable.
"We were quite locally focused, our core business was still field services to clients in Queensland."
That downturn arrived 12 months ago and Mr Neivandt estimates they've lost 40% of their field services work as a result.
He was approached by Austrade and Trade Investment Queensland to attend the trade missions.
"It was quite timely," he said.
"That's when opportunities crystallised in front of us."
"Those trade missions put you in front of people. There's a perception that they're a bit of a junket but it's the hardest work of your life you'll ever do.
"We originally just went for a look see, and then it just snowballed from there."
IESA was immediately asked to help Latin American companies develop workforce skills, and this led to them offering a three-month course in leadership and environmental training in Mackay for a group of delegates from Colombia last year.
A group from Paraguay will do the course next year. IESA's no one-trick pony. Mr Neivandt has established his own telco company, EnviroSat, and a cloudcomputing platform called E Cloud to provide more efficient monitoring solutions.
"EnviroSat and E Cloud products are what we're selling overseas," he said.
The company now operates three corporations in Australia, the United States and Latin American and Mr Neivandt has a word of advice for those doing it tough nationally.
"There's a lot of support there. The resources to help people who want to export are absolutely amazing," Mr Neivandt said.
"It's the obvious reaction when things are tough locally - where else can I look?