A True Source of Prosperity

Source Co Group of Companies

What doesn’t Source Co do? The answer is, not much. Between its four companies, Source Co is quite a one-stop, shop as it specialises in the import and export of products throughout the China region.

Gary Livermore, CEO of Source Co, has a lot to say about the Source Co experience. In 1998, he picked up a project to set up the engineering department of a company, known at the time as GlaxoWellcome, now GlaxoSmithKline. This took him to China which, in turn, led to him establishing his own company there in 2007.

The company itself is Source Co Ltd, a holding company which owns a number of trading companies here in Australia. “That company in China delivers our consulting services in engineering and also quality control – and also manages our manufacturing and sourcing of all different sorts of products,” Gary explains.

One company under the Source Co umbrella is Source Co Electric, an electrical products manufacturer and reseller. Source Co Asset Management, a consulting company working with large engineering companies, is another. A third is Source Co Supply, a company that locates product sources for products to be sold for resale in Australia.

Within the Source Co group is a company in China, Liyi Source Co, a wholly foreign owned enterprise which provides everything from product sourcing and engineering services to quality control, logistics and transaction management. There is also a company in Hong Kong called Found Ltd, and Gary explains that, “This basically allows us to trade in China… So in essence we have a company that has an engineering, technical background and we are involved in the import and export of products, predominantly from China into Australia and New Zealand.”

The Source Co network, while importing and exporting industrial and energy products, has strong international relations with China, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Source Co acts as an agent for people wanting to import goods, selling import licenses valid for a two year period and providing a complete range of complementary services. “For example,” Gary shares, “if someone wanted to bring in containers of product – say, like polished marble – they would take up a license with us and we would act on their behalf and be in charge of finding their product. Usually, it would end up costing them a fraction of what they would have had to pay to do it on their own. We pretty much put everything in a container and follow the weight restrictions on the roadway system if that is the route we are taking; size and weight of shipment is usually not an issue.”

In establishing its import / export platform, Gary says that the company has created an international business structure that allows it to efficiently conduct international trade. Source Co manages shipping logistics, the sourcing and quality control for import / export clients. “So we are selling licences to people at $10,000 for two years. Within that, they get research hours, and whatever their experience is, they come to us.”

Gary believes that it all comes down to the quality of the people within the company. “I just believe in employing really good young people that are motivated and try to reward them for that,” he says. Many with the company are fluent in Mandarin and tend to stay with the company for some time. “In Australia here we have many determined young people that just really enjoy the action in the work environment I am creating.”

To run such a substantial network of operations with so many different departments, it can be tricky to get the best candidates with all the skills required; specialised training is a must. Gary says that the company seeks out training programmes that will assist people in getting them on their way toward their goals. “We also find specific qualifications and have a really good internship programme in China,” he says. “We always have two or three international interns in the office in China at any given time. They would look at an internship as being one month to up to four or five months.”

Certainly, the recession and the present economic situation, in the construction and mining sectors in particular, has had an impact on the company’s growth; the traditional construction sector has contracted quite a bit, explains Gary. “So what we have had to do is re-invent ourselves a little. What that really means is that if you are not going to position yourself where you can buy competitively, like we are trying with China, you’re not going to be in business for very long. Too many companies are going out of business as they are having a difficult time making that adjustment.”

He says that one of the most notable changes in the world of business is that the global procurement of products has become accepted. “Indeed, if you are not going to do it, you probably are not going to be competitive or long term.” Source Co, doing as much as it can over the internet and through marketing campaigns, has tried to establish itself in international trade. “I figure we’ve got a couple more years of a bumpy ride ahead of us here in Australia but hopefully the election will have a good outcome and we can put that behind us,” says Gary. Despite slowdowns, trade with China is huge and continues to grow.

Indeed, the future of all the Source Co companies looks bright and Gary says that the company has found a new niche market in the prefabricated building sector, supplying electrical requirements destined for Australia and the Pacific Islands. “We have just completed a 500-man camp for Newcrest Mines up in Papua New Guinea and, very recently, we shook hands on the biggest motel in the world – over 3000 rooms, that is about to be built out at Miles in Queensland. I don’t know of anyone that can supply like we do to China, in Australia. We are covering, in a really seamless way, all electrical services for prefabricated buildings and are heading to Shanghai next week with prefabricated as well.”

With all the international business developments, projects and activity within the Source Co group, the team still makes the time to participate in charities, foundations and in supporting youth activities around the world. Currently, the company is involved with an orphanage called Many Hopes in Kenya where it assists and supports in any way it can. The website for this orphanage is www.manyhopes.org.

Environmental sensitivity is also a key consideration. As Gary explains, “We are one of the approved coal sourcing companies for Citic, a very large Chinese coal company. We have been strong in solar; we have exported many large containers of solar panels and inverters by other countries and are, of course, environmentally conscious. We manufacture in China, and we make sure all our companies abide by environmental and human rights standards at all times.”

Every successful company has had its share of challenges to overcome and cultural differences between Australia and China represent one challenge faced daily by Source Co. “If you think it’s easy doing business in China, you’re kidding yourself as it is quite tough. So we have really had to work very hard at becoming a Chinese company as opposed to an Australian company just doing business in China. We have had to develop that Chinese way of thinking and it is all quite disciplined.”

Source Co continues to expand into new areas and territories. “We are establishing ourselves more and more there to do business internationally,” says Gary. “We are aiming for our Chinese operations, Liyi and Found, to be the real engine room of our company. We ultimately would love to be able to do business worldwide. It’s all about having very good communications and delivering a very personalised and co-operative service to all our customers.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 9:22 AM AEDT