Creative Communications Solutions

Australian Radio Towers

Australian Radio Towers (ART) was established in 1973 by Rick McKiernan – the Uncle of current Managing Director, Andrew Price – as a family business. The company has been through a series of transformations since and the name has changed to reflect the growth and different services the company provides. Since moving into manufacturing in 2005, the company has emerged as one of the leading manufacture and installation companies in Australia. ART operates from its main office in Murwillumbah, NSW and has a warehouse in Ballarat, VIC; however it has no problem going anywhere in Australia as needed.

Australian Radio Towers offers full services in both communications and wind monitoring services for wind farming. The wind farm services are now being extended to turbine maintenance as well, which involves meteorological systems, wind monitoring masts, wind monitoring systems and wind turbine maintenance. In the communications arena, Australian Radio Towers provides turnkey communications solutions and is also developing a range of rapid deploy solutions. These are for emergency response situations and mine expansion and can be deployed within a day.

As Andrew Price explains, “Let’s say a mine is going to double in its size, which means generally speaking, if you put fixed infrastructure in, I’d need to come and remove that – which can be very expensive. So we might just put an expanding solution in so that they can have something in there for three months and then easily just move it to the mine perimeter to accommodate the mine expansion.” Such solutions are also perfect for temporary events: a sporting event such as auto racing; any sort of festival that needs communications; a military exercise; or for emergency communications.

The company can provide anything needed for an installation. “We do a range of guyed lattice masts, up to 120 metres and can cover all wind regions in Australia which is reasonably important. We do a range of free-standing towers, up to 100 metres or customised to suit individual requirements.” The company also fabricates cabinets, enclosures and huts for communications or whatever sort of electrical equipment a client may need to keep safe. “We do a range of antenna mounts and brackets to suit all of our products. We do a broad range of environmental monitoring systems, from solar, wind, dust, or noise. Then we’ve got the trailer mounted and skid mounted rapid deployment structures as well, which can be used anywhere. We do fencing solutions as well, earthing and lightning protection solutions for the structures, and we also do alternative energy systems – for example, solar and wind generation.”

While Australian Radio Towers typically focuses primarily on green energy solutions for its products, it can also provide a temporary diesel power source or backup solution just in case. This option can make things easier for a site that often gets bad weather and might not be ideal for a green solution.

Customer service is not a problem for the company; most of the general inquiries, sales and tendering goes right to the top, so the help comes from the ones who care the most about the a positive outcome. “We have a small customer service team that I directly oversee,” says Andrew. “Currently we have nine administration staff to look after the various administration roles within the company as well.”

The company has around 22 employees who all work within the head office in customer service, administration and fabrication in addition to the onsite installation crew. Within the company, according to Andrew, the employees act like a family. All new hires are multi-skilled so even though the fabrication team usually doesn’t do installations, they will help as needed, and vice versa. That way tasks get handled promptly and efficiently, saving time on projects that need to be completed quickly.

As well, any new hires go through a very hands-on, dedicated training and development program. “We don’t just go out and get any old bloke that we can to help us keep up with our workload; we focus on in-house training and expertise. This does have an effect on how quickly we can grow but we really make sure that as we are growing we are passing our experience on and developing our knowledge that’s specific to our industry. That applies to everyone in the company, even our administration staff,” explains Andrew. “Within the company there are many other teams as well, the project management team, electrical and communication engineering team, the estimation accounts division and IT division. We all support each other to carry out all of our projects. My business ethic is basically to move mountains for my clients, to deliver jobs on time if not ahead of schedule. I’ll put that before nearly anything, we really go out of our way to make sure that we deliver what needs to be delivered.”

The challenge for Australian Radio Towers is in finding an employee that has the relevant experience. Because the technology moves very quickly, a potential employee might have a degree from a few years ago that is all but obsolete today. Every employee hired, especially for installations, also needs to be multi-skilled and able to work in remote locations. “We’re sending people into absolute nowhere and we have to have people that can handle whatever issues that get presented in a professional manner.” Adds Andrew, “This is also another reason for such intense staff training.”

The company tries its best to have all of the work done by in-house staff. “The main focus internally is to supply secure jobs for as many direct employees as possible.” Sometimes it requires a contractor to do earth moving but it just makes more sense to have employees that are capable of doing everything.

Australian Radio Towers is very well equipped to handle any IT concerns that may come up as well. Even though the systems are built for constant uptime there are occasions where, just like with any communications equipment, hiccups do occur and Andrew realises the importance of minimising downtime, “The IT department allows us to provide cutting edge support to our clients. In today’s market it’s important that we utilise as much of that market as we can.”

Sometimes it’s hard to grow a business at a fast pace while keeping a first name basis with customers and employees alike however, while the company has grown, it is determined not to compromise the personal relationships that it has built with customers. “We haven’t lost our great service and being able to meet timelines for the sake of growth.”

This business takes a unique position within its market by providing more turnkey solutions than any other communications provider. Everything is done in-house, so there is no passing of documents from one business to another and no need to go elsewhere for solutions. “We’ve done a really good job at maintaining that personal service based business,” says Andrew. A lot of time gets spent on making sure that not only the product is turnkey, but the service is as well.

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December 16, 2018, 3:52 PM AEDT