June 11, 2014 – Bill Papas, managing director of information and technology company Forum Group, is on a major growth trajectory, with sustainability as a central new goal. Part of it is a personal passion for Dads to work with small and medium-sized businesses that are “really investing in their business” and needing help dealing with emerging fuel excise and fuel issues. increase in electricity prices. This is a major opportunity, he says, that many other manufacturers are failing to respond to.
Information and technology company Forum Group recently launched an environmental program division as part of its strategy to double its growth over the next 12 months. The new division will complement existing offerings such as the Australian branch for GPS fleet management and TomTom logistics system, integrated printing solutions and records and data management.
According to Managing Director Bill Papas, the sustainability conversation is getting “easier and easier” as more companies are offered sustainability solutions.
“It then becomes a discussion of costs. [With factors such as] fuel prices and electricity prices, companies are looking for real solutions, ”he said.
“We’ve been through various cycles, with companies seeing it first as a cost saving, then seeing it as an investment but they couldn’t get a return on, to now see the value of the bottom line.”
For most small and medium-sized businesses, Papas said in an interview with The fifth state, sustainability is driven by the need to reduce costs.
The heart of the company’s approach, as Papas describes it, is to “find out where the weak points lie. [for a client] and find efficiency gains.
“Our methodology on all our platforms is the investment [in technology] must provide a return immediately.
New product to reduce energy costs
A recent addition to the lines of the company that implements this strategy is PowerPerfector, a voltage optimization technology that can reduce the electricity consumption of an entire building by about 10-20%.
The small unit is installed in the distribution board to monitor and reduce overloading of a building, and is marketed on a zero capital arrangement that allows energy savings to cover costs for many users.
Acquisition and organic growth
Papas says the group has combined an “aggressive acquisition strategy and an organic growth strategy.”
Delivery of products through the environmental division, he said, is seen as a major benefit for continued organic growth.
In fiscal year 2012-13, the company’s revenue was $ 15 million, and a profit of $ 28-30 million is expected for fiscal year 2013-14. Over the next 12 months, the goal is to double the size and revenue growth.
The company has approximately 4,500 customers and 100 employees.
According to Papas, the development of strategic partnerships in Asia, in particular in Japan, gives the group access to a large number of technologies and solutions likely to strengthen the offer of the environmental division.
Great green opportunities in the north
The company has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with services provided nationwide and also in New Zealand. Papas says he thinks not enough attention is being paid to opportunities in the North.
“There is not enough interest and focus on Australia’s third largest market [Brisbane]. Northern Territory [also] and Queensland have been very successful for us environmentally [of the business]. “
This is not without frustrations, however.
A major challenge for customers is getting the right information and gaining access to technology, which can be proven overseas, but is not accredited for use in Australia.
“For example, there is an energy efficient product that saves 10% on the efficiency of diesel – it burns cleaner and less [the vehicle] carbon footprint. But it’s hard to get it through the tests and get it validated [for use in Australia], said Papa.
“[Even though] it ticks the boxes of sustainability and financial benefits, and has been available in Japan for 20 years and is widely used by some of the world’s largest companies, it is difficult to test. It is not an easy process and there is not a lot of [government] Support.
“People talk about finding these [sustainability] opportunities, but there is not enough support or education.
Papas says the group is looking to create synergies between divisions, for example IT and fleet management working together to improve logistics and deliver better energy efficiency. The aim is to introduce broader solutions into each client’s business that can contribute to sustainability.
The 100 employees include a significant number of technical experts in each key area, including offshore expertise brought to Australia as part of the establishment of specific divisions such as TomTom and PowerPerfector.
“We have invested in integrating British people into our organization to adapt [the technology] on Australian terms, ”says Papas. “With the PowerPerfector activity, we brought in engineers and experts from Europe [to Australia] who will apply their expertise to what is [actually] a business problem [in terms of power consumption and costs]. “
Sustainability for business fighters
Papas says the company is focused on providing a go-to-market channel that also focuses on small markets and small businesses. From his perspective, the growth in commitment to corporate social responsibility has been largely limited to publicly traded companies and large corporations.
In the hospitality sector in particular, he says the focus on energy efficiency is driven by global pressures.
“There is still a lack of education [in CSR] for the rest of the market, ”he says. “[Generally] companies only look internally, in Australia [for influence and information], not to global models and solutions.
“Today’s businesses don’t always know what they can reduce [in terms of resource and energy use]. Especially SMEs, which do not have the capacity to invest in research, they rely on people like us who come to them with information on what is possible.
“While it’s always nice to be at the top of the list and the government [clients], those for whom I have a passion are the [small and medium businessses]because they are the ones who really invest in their business. There is a real lack of emphasis on the part of manufacturers on how we can help them, and these companies have to deal with increasing excise duties on fuel and rising electricity prices.
“These are the companies to which I would like, as an organization, to become more relevant and offer solutions that they would never have access to otherwise.
“There is a disparate level of information and support [available from governments] – there is no consistency between state bodies. There is also [sometimes] a lack of will, due to their own interest, to invest in the innovative solutions that exist [globally].
“It’s a frustration for companies [some of] these technologies exist in the [global] market for quite some time, some of which have been used overseas for years with a proven track record, and there is a lack of proven methodologies for creating channels to take [those solutions] to business.