Long-serving employee Frank Boyce recounts his journey in sourcing and ordering parts for National Group.
At 6am each day, Frank Boyce starts replying to emails and phone calls for major components for National Group’s fleet. Sometimes, he’s still working at 8pm if the Perth office needs gear.
Frank is one of National Group’s longest-serving employees. He joined in 2006 when the business had 10 staff, 30 pieces of equipment and one workshop in Maitland in NSW.
Today, National Group has more than 250 employees, hundreds of pieces of equipment and 10 locations nationwide. For Frank, that means ordering parts for one of Australia’s largest fleets of heavy-earthmoving equipment – in a fast-growing company.
Frank sources components for about half of National Group’s fleet. His responsibilities include the company’s NSW operations – a source of significant growth in recent years after contract awards, and a strategic priority for National Group.
In July 2022, National Group was awarded a mining-services contract at Yancoal’s Moorlaben coal mine in NSW. In 2021, the company was awarded a contract to supply fully maintained mobile mining equipment to Newcrest Mining’s Cadia gold mine.
“Our NSW operations continue to expand,” says Frank. “That means ordering extra parts for scheduled equipment maintenance or if a machine breaks down on site. There’s been more work as our NSW projects have ramped up, but it’s gone smoothly.”
Deep industry knowledge
Frank downplays his contribution to National Group, preferring to deflect praise to others. But it’s clear that his knowledge of heavy-earthmoving parts – developed over 40 years in the industry – is an asset for National Group.
“I’ve been involved with heavy-earthmoving equipment all my working life, in one way or another,” says Frank. “I tell my kids to find a job they love and stick with it. When you get that experience, the job becomes second nature and very enjoyable.”
His expertise was vital during COVID-19 when parts were harder to source “National Group has lots of longstanding relationships across its industry and people we can call on when components are needed at short notice,” says Frank. “It’s all about relationships and trust, and knowing where to look, who to use, and who to avoid due to quality issues.”
Frank says sourcing parts for heavy earthmoving remains complex after COVID-19. “If anything, it’s got harder in the past 12 months. National Group is in good shape because we stocked up on parts and are producing and keeping more components in-house. These days, it’s all about having the parts we need as National Group grows.”
With his National Group colleague Grant Fleming, Frank ensures the business gets the parts it needs to optimise fleet performance. “Our maintenance team is among the best in its field,” says Frank. “Our work with part-ordering feeds into that maintenance and is one of the reasons National Group is very responsive when customers need something.”
Frank looks back fondly on his early days at National Group. “Right from the start, you could see the drive Mark (Ackroyd) had to build something much bigger. We were only a small team back then, but everybody pitched in, worked hard, and did whatever was required. It was a great place to work and still is today.”
For Frank, the attraction of working at National Group is the same today as it was 17 years ago when he joined. “I like working at a privately owned company where the founder knows your name and is only a phone call away. I talk to Mark most days and if I need a decision about a major component, I get it on the spot. I also like the fact that National Group’s ethos hasn’t really changed over the years, despite its success.”
From his Newcastle home, Frank still enjoys ordering parts for National Group each day. “At times, it’s a phenomenal amount of work because all our sites operate 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s a lot of responsibility because we are sourcing parts each year that are collectively worth millions of dollars.”
Now 60, Frank’s working life is, as they say, the sum of its parts. And a body of work that has made a significant contribution to National Group and its customers.