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Damstra Technology offers proof its country town setting is no barrier to global growth

Since separating from its parent company, last year, and undergoing a digital evolution, Damstra Technology has wasted no time in proving an SME from a country town can go global. The cloud-based, end-to-end workforce management solutions provider was today named as one of Australia’s 20 ‘high-potential’ Businesses of Tomorrow by Westpac.

According to Damstra Technology founder and CEO, Christian Damstra, the company’s platform, which can interface with existing business systems, is delivered as a software as a service (SaaS) meaning “the price point is effective for companies with ten employees through to those with tens of thousands”.

“For us, it’s always about people,” he told Dynamic Business. “Anything that affects the people on our customers’ sites, we’ll get involved in. That means everything from looking after their skills, competencies and compliance as well as time keeping, fatigue management and payroll calculation, right through to drug and alcohol detection plus asset management.”

“Our solutions are fuelled by industry experience”

Although Damstra Technology launched in May 2016, the company began its life 14 years earlier as Damstra Mining Services – a labour-hire firm servicing the coal mining industry. In 2006, the company was sold to Skilled Group, which had taken an interest in the business and the technology Damstra and his team had been developing.

“Having a background in mining, first as an electrician and later as an electrical engineer, I’d realised we needed a system that would help us manage workforces,” he explained. “I also knew that it should by designed somebody who knew the industry rather than a technology provider telling companies in the industry how to operate.”

Damstra remained with Skilled Group (later bought out by Programmed Maintenance), before reacquiring the company he’d founded on the 1st of April, last year, and relaunching it as a purely technology-oriented organisation, which now boasts a team of 30 employees, including seven developers and two business development managers plus the C-suite.

“We’re no longer hamstrung, we’re priority no. 1”

In the twelve months since, Damstra Technology’s customer base has grown by over 30%. Damstra attributes this growth, in part, to the fact that is no longer ‘hamstrung’ by being a non-core business within a large public company.

“The moment we removed ourselves from that arrangement, we were able to make the business our number one priority again,” he said. “Consequently, we were able to sign off on some important contracts with some very large customer, including government-backed organisations, which was extremely positive. We were also able to gain our first international client – a New Zealand-based company, providing us with access to 26 worksites.

“We achieved this growth without any direct funding due to the combination of our digital platform and some unique products. We’re very good at determining what our existing or potential customers require and we’re happy to be dynamic and make changes to meet their requirements.”

“People come from the city to join our dynamic SME”

Damstra said being recognised by Westpac as one of 20 ‘high-potential’ Businesses of Tomorrow, from a larger pool of promising businesses, is a huge boon for the Damstra Technology, providing both validation and industry exposure.

“We’re based in the Hunter Valley, NSW, meaning we operate out of a country town,” he said. “Now, a lot of people refuse to believe a business that operates out of a country town can have global reach – but we actually do have that ability. In fact, when we advertise jobs, we get approached by applicants from Sydney. We actually have two employees who relocated from a very large metropolitan organisation to be part of our dynamic organisation in the Hunter Valley, where the lifestyle is easier and the cost of living is much better. To be put on a pedestal, for want of a better word, with Westpac’s Businesses of Tomorrow program will help us grow.

“The Westpac initiative will open doors as we grow”

As with the other 19 high-potential businesses, Damstra Technology will gain access to a tailored mentoring program, where it will be paired with a successful business leader for tailored guidance throughout April and August. The company will also receive a tailored $100,000 professional services package and a ‘global study’ tour of the USA and China.

“We’re excited to learn who our mentor will be and look forward to being paired someone whose made a lot of difference in their own organisation and who can share their knowledge with us,” Damstra said.

“When it comes to the global study tour, this ties in nicely to our plans for international expansion,” he said. “We’ve already launched into New Zealand, and we have business meetings in the USA, Canada and Chile lined up this year. The tour with Westpac will give us an opportunity to show people in America that we’re a company worthy of going global. I’m of the view that this initiative will open some doors and lead to introductions we can lean on during our next 12 months of growth.

James Harkness
James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business