When it comes to helping businesses making tangible change, Keith Madden is up there with the best. A career spanning 40 years, Keith has spent the last nine years working as a Growth Facilitator for the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme, helping businesses flourish. With a track record of assisting more than 250 business operators with successful outcomes following their participation in the program, Keith is very passionate about his job function which provides an immensely rewarding yet at times challenging experience.
In describing his role, Keith says, “I engage with small to medium enterprises, identify business challenges they may be facing and provide solutions to allow them to grow while addressing market opportunities – that can be the strategic direction of the business, their marketing and selling models, manufacturing and operating capabilities.”
Over the years, Keith has enjoyed the breadth and depth of clients – from different industries some small others big, new businesses and established entities, some doing export development work while others domestically focused. You name it, he’s nailed it. One area of business advising he has a keen interest in is advanced manufacturing.
It’s difficult to select a single business that’s benefited from Keith’s expertise. With manufacturing a stand-out favourite area, let’s take a look at Hydraulic Controls and how the Entrepreneurs’ Programme along with Keith’s guidance has helped them propel onwards and upwards.
Hydraulic Controls was founded in 1972 by a former naval chief engineer, Ray Evans. While Ray had a good handle on the operation, when he passed away in 2015 it became blatantly obvious strategic change was required for the business to remain competitive and survive.
The new general manager, Robert Le Couteur turned to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and was connected with Keith. “I immediately developed confidence and trust in our facilitator because he showed he truly understood all the issues we were dealing with,” said Robert.
At the time, the company had many legacy systems and machinery well overdue for updating. While Robert had a plan, the program allowed him to secure the resources and funding to deliver on his vision.
With Keith’s support, they drilled down and looked at the overall strategy of the business including the value proposition and where the business wanted to be. They examined the technology challenges the business faced and how to address them and analysed the workplace structure. A rebalance of over resourced and under resourced areas was in need. Once the business plans were in place, they looked at the actions to take and grants available to achieve the desired outcomes.
Hydraulic Controls was successful in securing funding and eligible for three immediate grants. Two of these grants helped them implement operational changes while the third grant allowed them to acquire advanced manufacturing technology equipment. The combined funding amount of $320,000 was a real game changer for the business – stepping up their archaic machinery to the digital age.
Since engaging in the program, Hydraulic Controls has enjoyed revenue growth of over 20%, employment growth of 7% and their export performance has increased by over 15%. Impressive results – Ray would have been proud.
While Keith is just one of many Growth Facilitators dedicated to helping businesses navigate success, as evident with Hydraulic Controls, being open to change can actualise aspirations.