OPENING a business in the middle of a downturn and making a go of it, is no mean feat.
Sub Zero Mechanical Support opened three years ago in Moranbah despite the tough economic climate as owner Warren Allen said being a mechanic was "all we know".
"In a downturn, you don't find people parking their cars in a garage and riding bikes everywhere, batteries still need to be changed and cars still need servicing," he said.
"Some people thought we were crazy but with the right business strategies you can make a business work any time.
"We never went into it thinking we could make it big quick."
Part of their ongoing success is the BHP Billiton Local Buying Program.
The successful BHP Billiton Local Buying Program has been expanded to enable any business with less than 25 full-time employees based in the Central Highlands Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council or Mackay Local Government Areas to register to work with any BMA and BMC site.
Since the program's inception in 2012, BMA and BMC operations have spent more than $60 million on goods and services from local small to medium-sized businesses and more than 652 businesses are currently registered with the program.
Mr Allen said despite traditionally being a mechanic, Sub Zero had diversified into a "one-stop shop" in the two years that they had been part of the program.
"If anybody on the mine sites need a product or service we get an email and quote on it, it's a very fair process," he said.
"We don't primarily focus on the mining dollar, but being in business we can't say no to any dollar; if they need signage, or if they need a coffee machine, we have a crack if we think we can do it."
BMA asset president Rag Udd said expanding the program meant it would now be easier for more local businesses to bid for work with Australia's largest exporter of seaborne metallurgical coal.
"We have listened and are responding to feedback from business owners," he said.
The Local Buying Program ensures participating businesses have greater visibility to BMA and BMC users through an exclusive online supplier directory, increased opportunity to quote for work and shorter payment times for successful suppliers.
Registering to participate in the program is free.
A percentage of every transaction completed through the Local Buying Program is invested in Foundation initiatives to build the resilience and capability of local suppliers.
More than $800,000 has been invested in the Foundation to date.
The program's eligibility criteria was previously restricted to small businesses based in Blackwater, Capella, Dysart, Emerald, Moranbah and Nebo servicing BMA operations in the Bowen Basin and businesses in Mackay registering for work at the Hay Point coal export terminal.
BMC operations, Poitrel and South Walker Creek, have been open to trade with businesses from both regions since joining the program in 2013.
Mr Allen said the program gave "the local bloke a crack" at local business.
"There are so many businesses that have their own little speciality that do well out of this," he said.
"We have a couple of local apprentices ourselves and we're very proud of them. We need to keep jobs in this community for them, not everyone works on a mine site.
"We will continue to hire local apprentices so long as we and this community are prospering."
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