Western Australia

‘To build more houses we need more people’ - HIA

A FURORE has erupted in Western Australia over the perceived poor performance of the state’s Construction Visa Subsidy Program – a program that was only launched by the Western Australian Government in July last year.

In July 2023 the WA State Government launched a targeted program to support WA employers who were interested in attracting migrants with construction skills to Australia.

The WA Government took this step as a result of the Federal Government slashing State Nominated Migration Visas from 8140 to 2350 in the middle of a housing and a skills crisis.

Housing Industry Association (HIA) WA executive director Michael McGowan said HIA supports the program as one of several initiatives to help build more homes.

“This is a long-term investment to build more homes in WA,” Mr McGowan said. 

“Skilled migration has not been something that WA building companies have traditionally engaged in, but for those that have, the feedback has been extremely positive.

“Money is only one part of the migration solution, you have to find a suitable candidate and navigate a complex Federal migration system before that person can travel and start work in Australia.

“What we have seen is WA employers dipping their toes in the water to see how it works. It has worked, and we now expect most of the 1100 spots to be taken up and workers arriving in Australia over the next 12 months,” Mr McGowan said.

“Our industry has been built on a foundation of migrants moving to Australia looking for a new life and this program continues the tradition.

“Our housing challenges aren't going away anytime soon, so investing in a steady flow of skilled migrants while also funding 450 apprentices into the residential building industry is a responsible long-term approach,” he said.

“Of course we would like these people here sooner, but for those navigating it for the first time there are some unknowns that need to be worked through.

“The Federal Government also needs to speed up their processes and increase transparency with our builders and contractors who have people around the world waiting to come to WA.

“HIA held a construction visa information session at the beginning of May that was attended by more than 60 employers, and as success stories continue to filter through the industry the interest levels continue to increase,” Mr McGowan said.



Good Earth Dairy camel milk infant formula brand seeks investment to ‘go global’

GOOD EARTH DAIRY, An innovative Australian commercial camel milk producer, has been awarded a US$2.8 million grant by the Western Australian Government to help construct the first powdered camel milk processing facility in Perth.

The US$12.7 million project will allow the brand to increase production of new products for international distribution. In order to complete this project, Good Earth Dairy is looking to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 2024 and is currently conducting a crowd-funding campaign.

Good Earth Dairy wants to position for success in the global infant formula market which is set to grow by more than 30 percent to US$66.4 billion in the next five years, according to Good Earth Dairy founder and CEO, Marcel Steingiesser.

Mr Steingiesser said camel milk was a premium alternative to cow’s milk, retailing in Australia at US$8-$13 per litre, with low allergens and high nutritional value. According to Good Earth Dairy’s research, camel’s milk is globally regarded as the closest substitute for human milk. 

“Australia is in a unique position to be a global leader in camel milk production,” Mr Steingiesser said. “If we were to rely on breeding we would be very limited but we have access to a huge supply of camels in outback WA.

“We have the livestock, the technology, the climate and the opportunity; now we have the government backing to move to the next level and begin growing on an international scale.”

The company sees camel milk as poised to become a disruptor in the alternative milk space, particularly in the infant formula industry as it is the only animal milk to not hard coagulate in the gut, making it arguably the best milk for infants to digest.

A tech-first company, Good Earth Dairy has invested more than US$5m in its intellectual property (IP) to be a price leader in this future commodity, sourced from the world’s largest feral camel population in the Australian outback.

Set to be completed for operation in 2026, Good Earth Dairy’s purpose-built facility will allow the company to increase production capacity to 60,000 litres per day (60kL/day equates to about 21.9 million litres a year), and enter the infant formula market.

The grant includes increasing the farm capability and primary production, which will create more than 90 new jobs once the assets are fully utilised. Already an established operation, Good Earth Dairy operates on a 800-hectare property with a herd of 160 camels with 200 on order, and distributes a range of products through leading and independent stores across Western Australia.

Launched in 2016, Good Earth Dairy is one of Australia’s leading camel milk producers and is set to capitalise on the US$944 billion dairy market, "particularly as more people seek out dairy alternatives" according to Mr Steingiesser. The company has turned over US$1.5m in revenue since distribution began, growing 200 percent over the last year.

Ahead of the planned IPO in 2024, Good Earth Dairy is launching a bridging round through an equity crowdfunding campaign via OnMarket. The capital will enable the company to increase current capabilities while the new facility remains under construction.

Good Earth Dairy’s equity crowdfunding campaign is now live via OnMarket.



Excel Robotics develops vital production machinery

EXCEL ROBOTICS may have started small, but the company has always had big ideas about developing Australian advanced manufacturing services that would drive success for its clients across the agriculture, automotive, petro-chemical and resources industries.

Dan Leech founded Excel Robotics in 2006 and has been its managing director – and sole owner – since its inception, having focussed on the automotive sector initially. His background in the steel industry then set him thinking about creating better and more specialised production machinery and that, naturally, led to the field of robotics.

“I started with one robot and one customer and a huge dream and desire to succeed,” Mr Leech said. “Money was limited back then when I worked on my own so I made the decision that a fork lift would add more value to my company, rather than build an office – so that’s what I did.

“I then proceeded to use my forklift seat as my temporary office to conduct invoicing and purchasing etc. Move on two years and I had saved enough money to build my own office. Then we took the unit on next door and put a powder coating plant in to give our customers a complete package.

“Another year on I had eight staff and generators running out the front to give us more power as we were so busy. We then moved into Wellard Street Bibra Lake with eight staff and a turnover of $1.2 million with 70 percent net profit. 

“Move forward five years and last financial year we turned over $6.7 million with a net profit of $1.275 million,” Mr Leech said.

“We now employ 34 full time staff, have four accreditations with Lloyds Register, three safety awards, have four running robots, three saws, the largest plasma cutting, drilling and oxy cutting machine in Western Australia and have a predicted turnover in the next financial year of $9.5 million.”

Key to success, Mr Leech said, was his concentration of face-to-face meetings with customers.

“As a small business operator being responsible for all facets of the business from production planning to administration, it was integral that time was always allocated to marketing and promotion,” he said. “As part of my weekly job planning and scheduling, every Friday was put aside to close the workshop and hit the road to meet with potential new customers face to face, and in an industry that is still strongly influenced by old-school principles, this practice was always well received.

“I strongly believe this was a critical component in gaining trust and creating opportunities for customers to take a chance on a new supplier.”


After making its name rapidly from a standing start in the automotive sector then into agriculture and mining, Excel Robotics’ expertise and reputation opened doors in other industries.

Now Excel Robotics has its sights set on venturing into the oil and gas sector and the company is planning to expand eastward into locations such as Tomago and Gladstone.

The installation of the largest plasma cutting machine in Western Australia in the past year was a paradigm shift for Excel.

“The installation on the plasma (cutting technology) was a real turning point for us,” Mr Leech said. “We also commissioned our biggest robot Number 4. This is a five-axis robot mounted on a 10-tonne horizontal gantry system.

“We use this mainly for 1554.5 high fatigue welding work. Our customers love seeing this technology in action. And we can weld continuously for up to 12 metres.”

These new systems have clearly demonstrated that the use of robotics can make production not only more efficient and less costly, but far safer.

“One item in particular we used to have rotate 19 times and, with it weighing 2 tonne, it was a hazard,” Mr Leech said. “Now that we use robotics we only have to rotate it four times. Plus, we get more continuous welding with less stop-starts and lower heat input and distortion.”

Excel Robotics has always kept a look out for services it can economically extend to its production line.

“One of the earliest of these was powder coating to our services and more recently it has included rubber lining and plasma cutting,” Mr Leech said. “This adds up to happy customers too.”

Over the past few years, Excel Robotics has successfully achieved AS4801, ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHAS18001 accreditations with Lloyds Register Australia. This has helped to secure the top four global screening companies as customers.


Excel Robotics’ diversity of capabilities and the way the company has continually developed new efficiencies in its manufacturing systems by utilising robotics is clearly paying off in the way it is able to transition between industry sectors.

“We are a strong believer in business diversity. Our biggest commodity at the moment is wool, then all the precious metals known to man,” Mr Leech said.

“When one is up, often the other is down, so we still benefit.” 

In fact, Excel Robotics has now become the largest supplier to the Australian and New Zealand wool industry of fabricated components – most notably its latest technology wool presses.

“The markets at the moment for us are very good,” he said. “Also the price of wool is good at the moment combined with higher quality and demand from China as we are still riding a surge in wool press sales.”

At the same time, the more demand rises for precious metals – and sometimes the lower price of a commodity can be a driver – the  higher the demand for Excel’s custom-made screens that it builds for mining customers.

“With roughly 70 percent increase in sales and 50 percent in profit last year, things are moving along just nicely,” Mr Leech said. “We expect to double our turnover this year but not the profit as last year was an expansion year, as we call it.

“This happens every second year where we expand in one way or another, hence us spending more than other years.”

And right from his early days, Dan Leech has kept an eye on the basics to ensure growth can happen.

“Cash flow is king and if you take your eye of the ball someone else with start kicking it for you,” he said. Keeping an eye on the basics has driven Mr Leech to develop a long list of capable people to keep their eyes on the ball day-to-day in operations.

Mr Leech said the company has grown by between five and eight new full-time staff per year over the last three years and that is a carefully nurtured process.

He said Excel Robotics worked continuously with At Work Australia, South Fremantle Senior High School (SHS), Curtin University, Thornlie SHS and Rossmoyne SHS to give people the chance of gaining an apprenticeship “and come to our facilities to give the industry a try”.

“We have seen all walks of life come through the doors, some staying for longer than others, and others starting apprenticeships in the trade,” Mr Leech said. “We also take part in Indigenous employment and training.”

The company has also helped to rehabilitate people back into the industry after imprisonment, addiction, or illness, Mr Leech said.

It shows how paramount the development of people is for success – even for a robotics company.

Excel Robotics has been recognised as a leader in staff development and that has brought a string of awards over recent years – especially highlighting the way the company develops with workplace health and safety paramount. In both 2018 and 2017 Excel Robotics won the IFAP Safe Way Achiever Award Gold Category, in 2017 it was awarded the WA Government Worksafe Gold Certificate of Achievement and previous to that won the 2015 WA Government Work Safety Award for Best Workplace Safety and Health practice.

Anything that hinders his staff development goals are a problem – so it’s no wonder Mr Leech singles out one particular imposition on Australian companies that bothers him: payroll tax.

“Why should we be penalised for growing our companies?” he asked. “Abolish payroll tax!”

Such niggling impositions aside, Dan Leech and his team are accelerating by sticking to the company’s foundations.

“We want Excel Robotics to continue to exceed our customers’ expectations by constantly producing high quality fabrication in the safest, most efficient and professional manner possible,” Mr Leech said. “We will continue to grow the company lawfully and carefully.”

About Excel Robotics 

Excel Robotics is best known for its development of highly specialised production machinery across the agriculture, automotive and resources industries – and the company’s related capabilities in high quality welding, steel fabrication, powder coating, plasma cutting and rubber lining

Excel Robotics has grown to 39 staff over two shifts, led by Managing Director Dan Leech and Operations Manager Tom Poupouare, and is expected to turn over $9.5 million in the 2018-19 financial year.

Excel Robotics has won many awards over the years, most recently the Gold Safe Way Achiever Award for the 2018IFAP/CGU Safe Way Awards and the company is currently a finalist in the 2019 IFAP Safety Innovation Award.

Accreditations Excel holds include Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, Environmental Management ISO 14001:2015, Safety Accreditation AS/NZS 4801:2001, and Safety Accreditation OHSAS 18001:2007.


CFO Centre gives companies a new analytical edge

THE ROLE of the chief financial officer (CFO) in today’s challenging and fast-changing business environment cannot be understated or underestimated.

The CFO has transitioned rapidly from a person who ‘kept tabs on the money’ to someone who constantly analyses a business to put finance and assets to best use in order to both secure and grow a business.

It was this realisation, after many years of working in a wide variety of companies as CFO, that spurred Rupen Kotecha to co-found the CFO Centre network in Australia over a decade ago.  

Ever since, he has been on a mission to introduce the value of a modern CFO to as many businesses as possible, “to spread our vision that one day every small and mid-tier business will have a part time CFO”.

“I co-founded this business in Australia based on my desire to have freedom from corporate life and a work-life balance, having spent many years as a corporate CFO,” said Mr Kotecha, whose main role today is as the CEO of CFO Centre WA.

“The original concept for the CFO Centre was to provide the skill sets of experienced chief financial officers of large corporations to the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector, allowing smaller organisations to benefit from the expertise of a highly experienced chief financial officer without incurring the expense of hiring someone full-time.”

Mr Kotecha said the concept was launched in the UK in 2001 through a venture named the FD Centre, referring to the more common title in Britain at the time of Finance Director.

“Colin Mills, founder of the company, is a former chief financial officer of large multinationals and Plc companies,” he said. “His was the first business to provide part-time CFO services in the UK.

“The part-time CFO concept caught on quickly and the business has grown rapidly on a national scale. Over the last 15 years the CFO Centre Group has become the largest and most respected provider of part-time chief financial officer services in the world.

“The CFO Centre is now the global number one provider of part-time FD and CFO services.”



The CFO Centre has grown rapidly across Australia and the group is a major supporter of networks that help businesses and their leaders to grow and develop – especially through WA Leaders where Rupen Kotecha is also the organisation’s CEO. 

The CFO Centre continues to innovate in WA and has introduced new services that have taken a lead in assisting clients in ways that other CFO Centres are also adopting.

“As well as offering the Part-Time CFO model we have expanded into providing Interim CFOs, either to fulfil the role until a full-time CFO is employed or assist the current CFO to provide more firepower,” Mr Kotecha said. “This has worked very well.”

The CFO Centre has also developed a new free workshop series as a catalyst for business improvement across the state.

“We are running free workshops for our clients and prospects as part of our business improvement series, focusing on Value Proposition and Strategy,” Mr Kotecha said.

The CFO Centre has also stepped into the world of online learning for a very specific market.

“We have developed our new online learning platform for our new joiners – to accelerate their knowledge about our values and framework and help them settle in quickly,” Mr Kotecha said. “It is working very well in that context.”

The CFO Centre globally uses a business analysis system it calls 12 Box Architecture.

“We use our unique 12 Box Architecture to review every area of your current company finance function to include your current and future requirements,” a CFO Centre spokesperson said. “This approach means that we dig deep at the start of any new client relationship with the aim of identifying every problem area and getting everything out on the table. 

“This is a highly therapeutic approach for the business owner – and senior team – because it means you can declutter your head of issues which may have been circulating for months or even years and emerge with a clear roadmap and a top quality part-time CFO to manage the implementation of the plan.”

CFO Centre’s own progress is solid and matches the impressive growth of the companies they assist.

“We have taken on 15 new CFOs in the last year, growing the team to over 50 across Australia,” Mr Kotecha said.

“As our client businesses grow in size, our growth rates tend to settle. We are seeing growth rates for the group at 30 percent-plus.

“Given we are not capped by our market opportunity – there are millions of SME businesses globally for us to partner with – and this movement of team-based portfolio working is gaining momentum as more and more individuals seek freedom from corporate life, we certainly have the opportunity to sustain and increase these growth rates well into the future.  In a way we are only just beginning,” he said.



While growth and development are integral to the CFO Centre’s DNA, it is more the organisation’s foundation ethos for helping business and business leaders that underpins its long-term success.

Mr Kotecha said what drove the centre’s CFOs was “the sense of achievement we get from seeing the genuine difference we make for our clients”.

“We continue to focus on building relationships with our clients that can last a lifetime – essentially a ‘Client for Life’.

“Every engagement is similar but different. You’re dealing with individuals and personalities and that, therefore, has its challenges.”

Mr Kotecha said helping clients navigate an unstable business environment — in which the impact of events such as the Royal Commission into Australia’s banking, finance and insurance sectors has sown mistrust throughout the market – has become part of a good CFO’s daily focus.

“In an age of mistrust, we have to ensure our approach stands unique with each client,” Mr Kotecha said. “We deliver our best to ensure the owners have trust in the whole process and they can get the freedom to do other pieces, which accelerates their growth.”

To achieve that, Mr Kotecha said his teams at CFO Centre WA also had to focus closely on their own fundamentals and motivations.

“We constantly attract, select, energise and retain the very best CFOs,” Mr Kotecha said. “We also strive to keep identifying and developing great aligned leaders.

“At the CFO Centre we stick to our values – of being Open, Progressive and Passionate. And with those values behind us, we continue to build a fantastic sales and marketing machine that is centred around finding, winning and keeping clients.

“We drive our team ethos continually: Together We Win. It’s what makes us special.”

About the CFO Centre

CFO Centre operates across all industries and provides part-time, interim and specialist CFOs to companies of all sizes. 

CFO Centre leaders are Western Australia CEO Rupen Kotecha and Eastern Australia CEO David King.

Contact: www.cfocentre.com.au. Ph: 1300 447 740

AlphaBiz charts 10 years, strides into the future with certainty.

FOR ALPHABIZ it has been a 10-year journey from acquisition with a handful of clients with an ambition – to help business owners and CEOs take back control of their business –  using a range of modem whole-of-business software solutions to future-proof their organisation.

For AlphaBiz clients, it must seem like only yesterday that the AlphaBiz team worked closely with innovative operators to better equip their staff with the right tools and provide better service – ultimately achieving greater efficiency, effectiveness, economical and greater agility.AlphaBiz, Shadi Khede, Jacqui Robb and Jason Marriott.

And it has paid off all round. It sounds simple, but the ‘smarts’ behind AlphaBiz are more about the interpretation of useful software into business processes – to optimise them – than about the technology itself.


“At AlphaBiz, our mission is to equip businesses with modern software solutions to help them operate with greater control, efficiency, visibility and future proofing the organisation,” co-founder and director Shadi Kheder said.

“Together with our skilled and dedicated team, we provide our clients with powerful software solutions that solve the everyday challenges faced by growing companies with the visibility to key focus information to help business owners, executives, and management make informed and effective decisions.

“However the focus has always been on delivering the right solution in a friendly yet professional manner while building long lasting relationships, which is what sets us apart.”


AlphaBiz Solutions understood the growing need for fully integrating software solutions from day one in 2009 when the company was kicked off by Shadi Kheder.

Due to the lack of support for many Sybiz customers, the team members that formed AlphaBiz saw a great opportunity to provide quality support and improvements with the product, finance and business knowledge they had gained over years implementing and supporting Sybiz software along with other services like IT Infrastructure, Report Writing and Software Development.Joanna Wu, Shani Rai Sinha, Shadi Kheder and Jacqui Robb.

“After months of planning, it all became a reality on August 1, 2009, in a tiny office space with a small team, working with limited resources but high optimism and passion,” Mr Kheder said. “We had one vision, the same as today, to help businesses take control by centralising and streamlining there business systems.”

AlphaBiz has developed its service and training offerings across the board for the past decade and the business continues to go from strength to strength.

“We are true believers that when it comes to business software solutions there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach,” fellow Director, Peter Coole said. “We understand that buying a business system can be a big investment for companies and despite significant costs, software sometimes fails to meet critical requirements..

“To combat the frustration and hardships that can stem from implementing unsuitable systems or multiple softwares, we follow the 80/20 principle of software selection. Through our careful needs analysis process we help to select the right software which caters to 80 percent (or more) of the business’s critical needs and the final 20 percent is accomplished by customising or enhancing the software to suit the client specifically.

“This approach has helped us offer the most suitable and best value for money solution to our clients.

“It is a credit to the whole team that we have never walked away from a problem and we stand by every system we implement. Sometimes it can be tough going but the team rallies to the cause and pushes back he boundaries to find the best solution.”


Matching and tailoring the software is only part of the challenge for both AlphaBiz Solutions and their clients. Managing and interpreting the change to the business the new software represents is the truly challenging part.

“It is critical that when you need to assist in the change management process that you work with your audience, to gain their trust so they come down the path of change with you,” Mr Kheder said.

“Our teams are continually working to refine the process of change in a friendly non-confrontational way, yet ensuring that the path to required outcome is followed in an effective manner.”

And there is only one way to successfully integrate technological change into a business: person-to-person. AlphaBiz focusses on delivering the highest levels of personable customer service – and that builds lasting relationships through really effective user and business change management.

“What sets AlphaBiz apart from other competitors is our personable approach,” Mr Kheder said. “From the very first meeting, our goal is to communicate honestly and openly.

“We encourage every member of the AlphaBiz team, from the directors, the consultants, the business development and administrative team, to establish a trusted bond with our clients.”

And it works because they work hard at it and build trust.

“Currently we have a team of 20, comprising of extremely adept and enthusiastic individuals to deliver this promise,” Mr Kheder said.

AlphaBiz’s integrated information systems incorporate modules supporting  Finance, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Inventory Management, Job and Project Costing, Service Management, Point of Sale (POS), Fixed Assets, Analytics, and Reporting.

“We also offer payroll and human resources management (HRM) systems and hardware solutions which can be integrated into any new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, creating a fully integrated business management solution throughout a business. We also provide customised solutions to meet the unique needs of any business and industry requirements.”


Even as more business software options come on the market – and the power and intelligence of the software increases – successful integration is always going to be the key to success.

“The pace of innovation has increased and as a technology company we aim to continually evolve and adapt to technological growth, automation, mobility and cloud computing,” Mr Coole said.

“As solutions like electronic trading (B2B & EDI), artificial intelligence, IoT, automation become readily available and affordable to adapt, we want to empower our clients to stay ahead as the business landscape becomes more competitive and demand for reduced operational costs impacts us all.  

“AlphaBiz have audacious goals to establish itself as one of the biggest and most trustworthy names in WA in the ERP and IT space.”

And it is doing so by delivering on its vision by innovating in key technology systems areas that ordinarily form blockage points for most businesses.

These range from developing fully automated systems to ensuring the multiple reusability of key modules.

AlphaBiz is renowned for its standardised but flexible implementation methodology. Another benefit the company offers are AlphaBiz Core Training Videos.

But at the end of the day it is the people that make the difference in this innovative tech company.

“People have always been at the centre of everything that we do,” Mr Kheder said. “And the absolute best part of building and growing a company has been the opportunity to attract and retain exceptionally talented individuals that share the mindset of working together as a team meet our client’s needs. Our sincere thanks to the entire crew.”


Jason Marriott.

About AlphaBiz Solutions

Started in 2009, AlphaBiz Solutions is a fully owned and operated Australian consultancy specialising in ERP solutions, Payroll/HRM, Time and Attendance, Custom Applications, Business Intelligence and Software Automation and Integration for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Ph: (08) 9277 2226   www.alphabiz.com.au


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