Primero Group’s foundation is the classic start-up tale, according to co-creator Peter Grigsby: “We were all working at another company and doing all the work. We figured we could do the work for ourselves, be our own bosses and make changes we wanted to make.”
The founders initially spent weekends and after working hours building the business, putting together everything from an office to IT and insurance.
Finally, they launched the venture. They went from zero to 25 staff within a year – the first office was outgrown within three months. The next office also lasted three months.
“It was quite difficult to balance expenditure as we had grown a lot quicker than expected,” says Grigsby. “We got a lot of work, we delivered on jobs we did, which meant we received a lot more work.”
Primero’s proposition is a fairly simple one, offering engineering, management and contractor expertise to Western Australia’s resources industry.
The point of difference? While a handful of large industry players had grown to the size that they had to turn down smaller projects, Primero was able to scoop up this neglected work.
“A lot of the bigger companies have grown a lot in the last five years and are now too large to service projects up to $20 million,” says Grigsby. “A lot of companies that did $10 million jobs only do jobs for $100 million now.”
Primero has concentrated on generating a positive work environment, as well as paying decent wages, to compete in the notoriously fierce WA labour market.
The next challenge is to avoid becoming what they sought to replace – a large behemoth unable to take on the smaller projects.
“We’re trying to consolidate the business now, following all this growth,” says Grigsby. “We’ve identified that it’s an issue and we’re looking to address it. But we’re still young, still growing and still very efficient.”