Many things have changed in the mining industry over the last 50 years – we’ve had booms and busts, disasters and celebrations and we’ve taken on and advanced new technologies.
However, one company that has consistently maintained a prominent place as a reliable, local and professional company is CPC Engineering (CPC). This year is CPC’s 50th anniversary and the Company has a lot to celebrate.
What began in 1970 as a small office and fabrication workshop in Kambalda, servicing just a single client, is now a well-respected and well known engineering company providing a comprehensive range of engineering design, construction and maintenance services to the mining industry, both locally and internationally.
So what have been the key factors to which we could attribute not only CPC’s survival, but the Company’s growth and development over the past half century?
Taking advantage of the boom times certainly has worked well for the Company. “We took the boom that began in 2003 as an opportunity to grow and diversify” said CPC CEO, Glen Weir. “We doubled our staff numbers and started to then spread our wings across greater WA.”
CPC was then already well recognised for its underground expertise, so a move to include surface work provided new opportunities and expanded its offering considerably, leading to the establishment of workshops in both Ravensthorpe and Kalgoorlie.
Despite having enjoyed significant growth and development in the boom time the Global Financial Crisis then followed.
Here perhaps demonstrated best CPC’s ability to adapt quickly to new or altered circumstances. It came out the other side of the GFC, trimmer for sure, but with a new resolve, that being to revise its operation, fast.
CPC changed its focus from nickel, a severe casualty of the GFC, to iron ore, and established a workshop in Port Headland.
The growth model the Company has used has certainly proved successful in establishing itself in new regions such as the Pilbara – starting with a small workshop and building from there.
“We like building our teams up from locals, in that way, we not only support the local communities, but we avoid the risks of a transient work force – this encourages a sense of ownership and responsibility which is reflected in the project delivery.
“Our people are certainly key to our success. We started off as a family business with just one client and we now have over 350 personnel including supervisory and technical staff, mechanical and civil tradespersons, scaffolders, crane operators and apprentices across six operations in WA,” explained Weir, and of CPC’s corporate culture he said, “It is important for us to retain our family culture, so while we encourage business growth with the sophisticated systems and processes in place to perform effectively, our aim is to remain small enough to maintain our culture.”
CPC’s unique position as providers of the full range of engineering design, fabrication, maintenance and even shutdowns has perhaps also contributed to the company’s success over the past 50 years. The Project Design Division, added in 2011, gave CPC a significant point of difference and broadened their market with its full-service offering.
CPC attributes its growth and success to long and well-established relationships with its clients.
Initial small projects have led to projects of significant scale and complexity, providing the opportunity for CPC to further expand its expertise and project portfolio.
The Balama Graphite Project in Mozambique, Enterprise Copper Nickel Project in Zambia and Cobre Panama Copper Project in Panama were significant projects for the company, allowing it to work on further developing its capability in engineering, design, testwork and procurement, as well as its proficiency in the successful delivery of complex projects outside of Australia
Looking ahead over the next 50 years, CPC is keen remain a mid-tier engineering company with a considered growth plan.
“We don’t want to become so big that we lose our culture and identity,” explains Mr Weir. “However, we do want to maintain our position where we’re diversified enough to survive the downturns, can continue to be profitable and are flexible enough to increase or decrease in line with demand.
“We are committed to limited growth that balances our culture of maintaining the quality of the environment and heritage factors, coupled with meeting industry and community needs. This also ensures that our focus remains on quality work, underpinned by our ‘safer by choice’ ethos, and repeat business rather than growth for growth’s sake.”
No doubt the next half century will bring with it a range of challenges. However, with a well-established and agile team with proven expertise across a range of disciplines together with a “can do” attitude to take on projects of significant complexity, CPC is certainly well placed to take on these challenges, and to adapt and grow as a result of them.