Indigenous-owned and managed national contracting business By Group is primarily a fit out and refurbishment company that’s worked with Defence, JLL and Aurecon, but is now venturing into new territory with solar projects and civil construction.
By Group chief executive officer Victor Morgan told The Fifth Estate that this is exciting because solar presents a huge opportunity for some of the company’s land council clients.
“We’ve got some partners who are strong in the solar consultancy space and that dovetails into the land council work we’re doing,” he says.
“There are vast tracts of land in regional Australia that are perfect for solar farms. They can become revenue generating assets that would mean you wouldn’t need to sell the land in some of those remote regional communities.”
Morgan says the Supply Nation certified company is increasingly working with Indigenous landowners to develop their land to achieve sustainable and long-term economic benefit.
He says this company, which employs 10 Indigenous workers out of a growing total of 14 staff, is passionate about this work.
The ethos of the company is to not encourage selling the land but to use the land for better outcomes.
And unlike other outside organisations that might provide assistance or consulting services to the land councils, Morgan’s team is “in sync with what they want”.
He says it’s been “a long haul to get our mob to trust us”.
“It’s tough, there’s a lot of mistrust because there’s been a lot of land deals that have gone sour. To start there are problems with policies and how they are written.”
Morgan is a Jaitmathung/Bundjalung man with a good reputation in the community.
“Big in our community when they meet you is that they know your family and where you’re from. You have to be the person you say you are.”
Aside from land councils, the company’s big clients include private sector companies such as JLL and Aurecon. The contractor is also working with government agencies such as Defence, Department of Education and doing housing projects through the NSW Land and Housing Corporation and the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office.
Sustainable employment key to By Group’s success
A focus on sustainable employment and fostering Indigenous talent has also earned the company respect in the industry, Morgan says.
He says many other Indigenous Procurement Policy contractors “just produce jobs [for an Indigenous person] and say ‘we’ve done our work’.”
“We want sustainable careers in the construction industry, with workers developing into higher roles such as foreman, site manager, contract administrator and project manager.
“We don’t have to do a lot of talking because we can back it up with how the company is set up and show 100 per cent staff retention. We actually fit the bill with the policy. We are why it is put in place.”