Maple Glass Printing

Nick Birbilis was a professor at Monash University working with Canadian PhD student David Feenstra when the idea for the world’s first commercial glass 3D printer was born. The two became co-directors of Maple Glass Printing, but Nick found that while they had amazing technology, running the business was proving a challenge.

Hear how working with BDO Growth Facilitator Ren Butler helped Nick set values and goals for what the business stands for and gain the confidence to start exploring international markets to help Maple Glass Printing grow.

Paarhammer Windows & Doors

Established in 1990, Paarhammer initially crafted fine furniture and European-style kitchens. In 1991, while building their home, founders Tony and Edith Paarhammer noticed the absence of energy-efficient European-style windows and doors reminiscent of their Austrian heritage.

Motivated to address this gap, they ventured into manufacturing. With over three decades in business, their marketing expansion ambitions led them to the Ready for Growth program. Hear how this initiative propelled Tony and Edith, guiding their business toward achieving its goals.

TRJ Engineering

David Murphy’s father started TRJ Engineering nearly 50 years ago with a small factory in Keysborough and now the business employs 40 people and is heavily involved in manufacturing the new trains that will be on Victorian tracks soon.

Hear how Ready for Growth helped David to build his financial and general business knowledge and develop targeted ways of finding staff and ensuring his business continues to grow.

TRJ Engineering, general engineers.

We have been working for coming up 50 years. My father started the business in 1974, started in a small factory in Keysborough with 2 or 3 people. We’re currently employing 40 people.

We're heavily involved in manufacturing the new trains that are going to be going on our tracks fairly soon, and also the new trams that are getting built.

We were approached to have a look at the Ready for Growth program. They are really, really supportive.

They contacted me and we talked about business and getting a perspective from somebody else's eyes, especially from an accounting background as well.

I did three workshops over a 3 month period with them. Once I did the first one, I realised that there was some stuff here that I didn't really even know.

You’ve got an overall view of your own business but it's always good to go and talk to other business owners. Having that ability to be in that workshop environment with 12 or 15 people, I think was really invaluable.

We come up with some really good ideas in regards to trying to find people, because finding people during Covid was a fairly difficult process. So a lot of the processes and a lot of the systems that we put in place there, we still continue to do now.

Listening to other people is huge, especially business owners and what you can get from that.

So probably the first thing I could say is just have a go. Go and do a course, go and have a mentoring session. That mentoring I found invaluable.

Assembled Threads

Assembled Threads is an employment-focused social enterprise that supports local manufacturing, local employment and ethical and sustainable practice in the textile and garment development industry.

Founder and product developer Edwina Walsh describes how participating in the Ready for Growth program helped her strategise for the future and think bigger about the business.

I've been in the rag trade my whole career.

I’m a very passionate product developer, so we worked for big box retailers and we were traveling more and more to Bangladesh and I could see the working conditions there and it made me wonder what had happened to our local manufacturing industry in Victoria.

Assembled Threads is an employment focused social enterprise. It's a manufacturing hub
where we've actually recruited mostly women from refugee migrant backgrounds who have a passion for sewing.

We have this really great artisan talent coming in from our migrant refugee populations, and I felt I could match that with product development and get the team up to speed really quickly.

For me, the Ready for Growth program provided strategic counseling and coaching.

When you're running a business yourself, you are so deep into it and you're doing five jobs. One person, you don't actually take enough time out to solve the bigger strategic questions.

It was really great working with BDO’s growth facilitator

"Hi Edwina!"

"Hi Helen, How are you?"

"I'm good, thanks. How have things been?"

And I found that talking to Helen gave me headspace to just talk about some of those bigger issues get some experienced feedback is really convenient.

Helen was great because she gave me different options on how I could bring expertise into the business and raised the idea of building an advisory group. That's a really key way to actually build that expertise around you.

I think the program has really helped me to focus on where we want to go in the future and to really focus on building our productivity in key areas.

The program was really helpful in making me think more as a business strategist as opposed to a product developer.

Bass and Flinders Distillery

Based in the Mornington Peninsula, Bass and Flinders Distillery has gone from strength to strength since it opened in 2009, most recently with targeted help from the Ready for Growth program.

Managing director and head distiller Holly Klintworth spoke with Business Victoria about how the program helped her evaluate pricing models and build her financial knowledge and capability.

In 2009, my father, Wayne, set up this business.

The inspiration behind Bass & Flinders, we're located on the Mornington Peninsula,
lots of vineyards, but at the time there was no distilleries, so we saw a bit of an opportunity to do something different here at our distillery door in Dromana

We have a bar. You can come and have a cocktail, a grazing platter.

We offer gin masterclasses, which is a two-hour course in gin, and you can blend up your own bottle of bespoke gin.

TITLE CARD: Why did you get involved with Ready for Growth?

I heard about the Ready for Growth program through the entrepreneurs program that I was already involved in. For me, any opportunity to develop my skills further around business management, around financial management, HR, marketing, I'll jump at that opportunity.

The great thing about this program was the face-to-face learning as well, not only with my mentor Coralie, but also the in-person learnings where in the room you had a whole lot of different small business owners coming from very different industries and bouncing your challenges and your ideas around in it. In a group like that was really valuable as well.

The Growth Action Plan, for us, that was about export, around price changing, as well as reevaluating our current business plan.

Coralie and I focused together on working through a bit of a break-even point when it comes to pricing. It helped me better understand where the profit generation in the business
comes from and with certain products where maybe they weren't making as much profit and what we could do to change those things.

The Ready for Growth program has been invaluable for me. It's been really, really helpful.

Ignition Immersive

Ready for Growth's tailored advisory services have helped unlock new opportunities for South Melbourne-based creative and virtual reality studio Ignition Immersive.

Program participant and Commercial Director Tristan Place says the program has helped build the business’s framework for future growth.

We were introduced to the Ready for Growth by Business Victoria Program by one of our existing Victorian Government agency clients. One review of the program and sort of the outcomes that they were offering, we're very keen to apply.

We're fortunate enough to have our application approved.

Ignition Immersive is an augmented reality and virtual reality studio. We produce immersive experiences across media, entertainment and enterprise solutions for clients right throughout Australia.

Our Growth Facilitator has supplied us with a framework and a structure to work through some of the business growth planning initiatives that we did have in place. But certainly they've given us the introduction to new markets ability to create a framework for us to plan for our future business growth.

The challenges for a small Victorian business like ourselves is to sort of find that time to be able to work on our business and our future growth planning and so on, so that program has provided us with a great framework to be able to work forward in terms of our future planning.

Certainly, for other small businesses like ourselves in Victoria, I'd say do it, jump in. Certainly take up the opportunity with the program.