Ten years of Trucks, Growth and Laughter

According to Toni Dunlop, co-owner and managing director of Ausroad Group, there’s nothing worse than being reprimanded by your accountant. “I kept having meetings with our accountants and left feeling like I was getting told off all the time,” he remembers. “There was one day in particular after an annual review, I felt like we’d been rapped over the knuckles. That’s when I knew I’d had enough.”

After he and his siblings, Stefan and Shari, took over the family business in 2001, Toni was excited to test his new ideas and growth strategies. One thing holding him back was his need for more confidence in his accountants.

“We took over the family business, and we were still using the existing accounting firm that our parents used,” explains Toni. But soon, the cracks started to appear. “We outgrew what we needed from that accounting firm –  they were just effectively doing compliance. What we really needed was more support and advice on a range of fronts on lots of different things.”

“I had a sporting background –  not a business background.” Toni laughs. “We were sort of making it up as we went along.” The hunt for a new accountant began, and after a short search, SRJWW made the cut. For almost a decade, SRJWW has joined forces with Toni to develop, grow and enhance his business – a partnership that Toni claims “helps keep him sane”.

“The range of services that SRJWW offers exceeded what the previous accountants could do – and that’s what we were looking for,” Toni smiles. And so a beautiful, long friendship was born.

The race for more trucks

“We move fairly quickly,” says Toni. “A lot of the time, we have an idea of what we want to do, but we don’t know how to achieve it or what’s involved. The Moranbah project was an example of that.”

After a gruelling application process, Toni was delighted to find that Ausroad had won the tender for a large contract servicing approximately five mines in Moranbah, Queensland. The only problem? Toni needed to obtain the finance to carry the cost for three months as quickly as possible and only had two weeks to fund, source and purchase the necessary trucks to do the job.

“We had to get a lot of gear on the ground fairly quickly. People, employees, the lot. And we needed a fair bit of working capital to get it up and running,” Toni reminisces. “There was a lot of work between SRJWW, the bank, and brokers to pull all that together.”

Behind the scenes, SRJWW principal John Riseley and his team embarked on the detailed and complex task of building a Three Way Financial Forecast and associated submission. This was to demonstrate to the bank that the project was viable for funding.  With the finances in the dutiful hands of SRJWW, Toni could focus on getting ready for the new sites. “We were so flat out trying to line up the equipment, we just didn’t have time to put our effort into the financial side of things. We were just too busy trying to find trucks.”

“It all came together in the end, though,” Toni starts to laugh. “It didn’t seem too complicated to me – but then again, I wasn’t doing the financial work! I just assumed that SRJWW had everything under control. I knew that SRJWW is putting in the hours in the background.”

“With SRJWW, we’ve come to expect that it gets done on time and all done well, so it’s not really unexpected anymore,” Toni elaborates. “You’ve got someone there who’s got their eye on the ball and all those other things that go on in the background.”

An unexpected friendship

For a no-nonsense, direct and practical mining industry Managing Director like Toni, it takes more than dedication and commitment to keep his business for almost ten years. “A lot of it comes down to the personality of who you’re dealing with,” starts Toni. “It’s a fairly close relationship, and you rely pretty heavily on their advice. So they must have your best interests at heart.”

While experience and expertise were always a priority for Toni, a key component of the relationship was collaboration. “The team at SRJWW are our accountants, but they’re also our consultants,” describes Toni. “It’s good to have a third party with whom you can talk through almost any subject and get another point of view.”

John and manager Troy Green regularly attend Ausroad’s board meetings, directly contributing to their Group Strategy and offering guidance at key moments. “I think it helps John and Troy to see what we’re talking about, what’s actually happening in the business and what our challenges are – accounting related or not,” says Toni. “There’s a lot of history and knowledge in these meetings, and that helps John and Troy in assisting in effective decision-making for our future. They have a good understanding of how we operate and when to inject their input into key Group decisions. We have been working together successfully for a long time, and there is a high level of mutual respect and trust associated with this.”

But the real unexpected outcome of teaming up with SRJWW for nearly a decade? The friendship. “I didn’t expect to be friends with my accountant, but it happened  – which is a good thing.” Toni grins. “Sometimes, on the way home, I’ll call John just to chat about our day or the cricket. I enjoy the relationship we have with SRJWW. We have a laugh, and we get the job done.”

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