The Summer 2019/20 edition of AMMA’s Resource People magazine is available to read in full online and/or download a PDF copy here.

Highlighting the wonderful achievements, initiatives and people of the resources and energy industry, Resource People ensures AMMA members are up-to-date on the latest developments in all ‘people’ areas of the sector.

PRG delivers real results on Indigenous employment

Njamal People Traditional Owners planning with Scott Dryland and Scott Thompson.

The rapid growth of a start-up Pilbara contracting firm has had a significant positive impact on local communities, with the company especially successful in bringing Indigenous Australians along with their journey.

LEAVING BEHIND the security of a stable job in the resource and energy industry, Scott Dryland decided to go into business for himself and challenge the status quo of the contracting industry.

Born out of this vision was Pilbara Resource Group (PRG) – a construction and civil contractor offering a range of solutions to the mining, industrial and commercial sectors.

Sharing Mr Dryland’s ambition was PRG co-founder Scott Thompson. Together the budding business partners locked horns with the established players of the sector.

There were no illusions about the challenges of winning clients, but with minimal capital, they entered the market three years ago with a promise to benchmark their performance against leading global standards and took an uncompromising stand on safety.

“When we established PRG in 2016 we could see the industry was gearing up for another upturn,” said Mr Dryland, Managing Director of Pilbara Resource Group (PRG).

“Knowing that there were significant projects on the horizon that would suck up a large portion of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 service providers, we spotted a gap in the market.

“We could see that the junior miners would be left with no one with the necessary understanding – or the systems and processes in place – to fill the void.

From there, Mr Dryland adopted Simon Sinek’s purpose-driven approach to the business, turning its ‘Why’ into the vision to provide sustainable opportunities for future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

“To have a company of our size, with minimal overheads, an Indigenous focus and the experience needed to provide a broad range of construction and civil contracting services, we saw that as a real niche in the market,” he said.

Our first year was successful, then in our second year we tripled our results and we’re on target to do the same again this year.”

One of the cornerstones of the company’s success has been delivering on a promise to work with Traditional Owners to create a new, sustainable model of Indigenous contracting.

“After starting with three employees and an ambitious plan to introduce a new approach to Native Title contracting, we have grown to a team of more than 80 and a turnover of $35million,” Mr Dryland said.

“Our work with Traditional Owners to create a new, sustainable model of Indigenous contracting also set us apart from the beginning.

“We were always confident that we could deliver a legacy for Aboriginal people, even though many others have tried and failed.”

Working in some of Australia’s harshest and most remote project sites, PRG’s strategy is driving important results and changing the lives of Indigenous people through meaningful employment.

“Our Indigenous engagement will also continue to evolve and develop as we continue to think outside of the box when it comes to communication, upskilling and training,” Mr Dryland said.

Although targeting the big players of the industry wasn’t necessarily a key focus of the company’s initial strategy, they have stood up and taken notice of the value in what PRG is doing in the market.

“Not only are we a contractor of choice for Tier 3 and 4 clients, but we’re now contracting direct to FMG, Rio Tinto, and Mineral Resources, as well as to BHP on the South Flank project,” Mr Dryland said.

 Mr Dryland said PRG’s next phase of growth will focus on building on its already trusted reputation to partner with leading remote mining and energy projects by delivering an empowered workforce, with strong employee retention.

Specialised approach to indigenous engagement

PRG’s workforce spans more than 80 people delivers projects in the Pilbara, Goldfields and Queensland, but it’s the specialised approach to each and every community which is setting a benchmark – and a point of difference from many competitors.

We are proud of the fact that we work with some 14 Traditional families to bring new employment, financial, education and social service opportunities. About a third of our workforce is now Indigenous,” Mr Dryland said.

“When we’re working with Indigenous communities our focus is on engagement, employment, training and development. We employ people in a variety of roles, such as administration, cleaning, labouring, bus driving and catering.

“Our workforce includes an Indigenous mother and daughter team providing a catering service. As another example, we arranged for an Indigenous woman to undertake a driver training course and she has now been driving trucks on a BHP site for the past six months.”

Before setting up PRG Mr Dryland managed 20 Indigenous recruits who were some of the first to complete the resource industry’s Vocational Training and Education Centre (VTEC) program.

“It was great to be able to put the graduates to work and watch them grow and develop outside of the program and into the workforce; that’s maybe where the ‘Why’ behind PRG started,” he said.

“We began with a plan, have executed the plan and are doing what we said we would do.

“We’re having a positive impact on communities, and our continued success and growth is attributable to our commitment to the people.”

He pointed to gaining the respect of Indigenous communities as crucial to success.

“Along with honesty and trust, this is one of the pillars of our business,” he said.

“It’s a case of us wanting to do what we do. Sometimes the momentum doesn’t really start until that message has been taken on board.

“Our vision is to develop sustainable opportunities for future generations, based on shared values such as integrity, resilience, excellence and leadership.

“Creating sustainable opportunities for Traditional families supports the management of their country, their people and their heritage,” he said.

“But that’s just one half of the story.

“Ultimately, we are also working to engender greater understanding and awareness of Aboriginal culture throughout our business dealings.”