Growing up in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia’s goldfields might seem like a tough rugged environment to take your first steps, but for Marty Abbott Managing Director of IMEC, it was that setting growing up that gave him the insight into the industry he lives and breathes today.
Now based back in Ireland where he lives with his wife and three kids, lets find out what drives our hardworking family man.
What does growing up in the Goldfields mean to you?
The Goldfields is an extremely unique place and one I am truly proud to say I have grown up in. It doesn’t have a lot of the luxuries such as a beach compared with say growing up in Perth, but I believe through being so isolated that a very strong community spirit is forged amongst the residents that’s unlike a lot of other places.
Sports is a big part of any young boy or girl’s life in Kalgoorlie and there is great support by the community of the towns sporting arenas & heritage. I didn’t make the Eagles roster, but I have lifelong mates I met whilst kicking footy for Boulder.
I believe a lot of Australia’s sporting heroes and successful business people have come from this region because of the towns support and close-knit community. That network is a huge key to success and the people of the goldfields like to ‘help their own’.
Why did you go into the field of mining engineering?
I love this industry, I guess I am and always be that kid who played with the Tonka trucks growing up, building my own ‘Super Pit’ in the backyard (which coincidentally I could see the waste dump from my house growing up in Boulder). I still play with Tonka Trucks at IMEC but on a bigger scale.
How did IMEC come about?
Through the experience I had gained both in client and service providing roles, I identified a gap within the industry for establishing a small to medium sized consultancy that was focused on supporting hard rock miners, particularly underground operations with engineering & project management services. It might seem trivial but the key to all that is in the support we give. Our job is to listen to our client’s needs, known or unknown and deliver their project through the knowledge and experience we have from project execution around the world.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in business?
It’s difficult to pin point the biggest as all challenges when your starting out could result in failure of the business, but I guess being in the midst of the GFC whilst trying to get a business off the ground would be up there. A lot of businesses can catch a lucky break that help them get started or are the impetus to get started, but starting and sustaining a profitable business is probably the biggest ever-present challenge.
What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made in business?
Like anyone in life, we are always learning and improving through our mistakes. I don’t recall one specific mistake and there are plenty of projects and things over the years I look back on and can see gaps or things I would do differently. But if I was to give an answer, I would say cashflow is king, especially as you grow your business and overheads. Being an engineer and starting a business, there was a lot to learn in the world of commerce. Having two partners with formal business education helped and I have since upskilled formally in this area, but I would say that learning to manage all moving parts of the business brought us close a number of times where I was concerned how we would stay liquid for the next month during the startup phase of the company.
What is your major success to date?
Our business is helping people. Yes, it’s a business to business transaction but at the core it’s our engineers & designers (people) supporting mining clients (people). So, I would say one key success to date is building a team of excellent people who I enjoy coming to work with every day. Watching the team grow with the business is probably the most satisfying and tangible success. And I also continue to develop as an engineer from the learnings from our excellent team.
I recently received a call from a mining manager on a project in Australia, to thank me for IMEC’s efforts on delivering their project (which had some serious challenges). We have had a few of these calls over the years, and they are very pleasing as you know the efforts, we put into help others had a great result for them and their organization.
We were also the lead engineers behind a mine rescue operation in Asia a few years ago which contributed to the successful rescue of a trapped miner after 12 days underground. That certainly ranks high in our successes.
These are the successes IMEC is built on.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received?
Don’t forget the identity of the business and what you set out to do. I have seen a number of examples where companies had an opportunity or for some reason or another, to branch into another area or diversify only to fail. IMEC remains true to its core of delivering first class engineering solutions to the mining industry.
What are some of the plans going forth for IMEC?
We have recently purchased a new office in West Perth which will give IMEC a permanent ‘home’. The space there will provide us with the room we need to continue growing our team, provide our clients with a comfortable and professional setting in which to discuss projects, or for a social catch-up, and also enable us to set up a permanent VR design review space. So that is an exciting change for us in the near future. We will obviously continue to provide service to our existing and loyal client base, and we also have a target to further grow our global footprint with some exciting trips planned.
Any final words?
I’d just like to finish with a sincere and huge thanks to all our staff, clients, and the people who have made IMEC what it is today. We have recently celebrated our ‘6th’ Birthday and we couldn’t have done that without the unbelievable support we received since our establishment in 2013. And finally, a huge thanks to my wife and young family, without their unending support none of this would be possible.