A diesel fitter by trade, Craig Binstead uses that experience to good effect as head of business-development at National Group in WA/NT.
Craig Binstead celebrates his tenth year with National Group next April. During that time, Craig has watched National Group grow from a medium sized business into one of Australia’s leading providers of heavy earthmoving equipment rental to the mining industry.
As Business Development Manager at National Group’s Perth office, Craig has also seen the company grow its Western Australian business and move into work across a wider range of commodities. Lately, National Group has supplied equipment for nickel, copper and lithium projects.
Originally from Mackay in North Queensland, Craig was a diesel fitter by trade. After much prompting in a previous role, he made the move to management. National Group asked Craig about his work and the company’s growth.
Craig, how has National Group changed during your time at the company?
CB: There’s been enormous change. When I started in 2012, in WA and the NT, we had a small fleet of equipment mostly for civil-engineering projects. The size and diversity of National Group’s fleet have grown at least tenfold since then and we now have hundreds of pieces of equipment.
We have a very strong fleet today. We run tier-one equipment and typically have the best model of each make with low hours. The National Group maintenance team is known as one of the best in its industry. It’s incredible to think how far the company has come in the past decade.
Although National Group has become a more sophisticated company with a lot more employees, we’ve managed to keep the nimbleness, drive and responsiveness that comes with being a privately owned business. The company’s values and DNA haven’t changed in my time here.
What do you like most about working at National Group?
CB: The people and the culture. We have a fantastic team nationally. The WA and NT team has about 30 permanent staff across maintenance and other areas.
I also like that there’s no red tape in the company. We don’t have all the bureaucracy and slow decision making you hear about in listed companies. If I need a decision today for a client, I call Mark (Ackroyd) direct, and he makes the decision. That agility and responsiveness is so important when a client needs something quickly for a mine site.
I like that we have a no-nonsense culture. We are always upfront with clients and do what we say we will do. We never want to let clients down. When we get an opportunity with a new client, it inevitably leads to more work because of National Group’s reliability and our flexibility with contracts and other aspects of our work.
Also, the end-to-end service of National Group makes my life easier. We do everything from transporting equipment at a remote mine site in WA, to selling it for a client or disposing of it at the end of its lifecycle. This means we’re not relying on other providers to help clients, which aids our responsiveness and quality control.
What was it like transitioning from maintenance to management?
CB: It took a lot of prompting from a previous boss who thought I had what it takes to move into a manamgement role. I resisted at first as I enjoyed my time on the tools as a diesel fitter. As Business Development Manager in WA and the NT, my role is to build relationships with existing and new customers and make sure we keep creating solutions – often at short notice – for them.
I’m no longer involved in maintenance, but having a maintenance background is a real advantage in my role. Our customers know they are dealing with someone who understands the machinery and what they need. I enjoy the business-development side of things.
How is activity on the ground in WA for equipment rental?
CB: WA is still powering ahead, despite the challenges of Covid. Equipment demand has been a little more volatile than usual, which is understandable given the uncertainty around the pandemic. But overall, we’ve seen continued good demand for National Group equipment in WA.
Our core commodity is iron ore and gold, but we continue to do more in nickel, copper and other metals associated with electric vehicles (EVs). There’s definitely a lot more activity around minerals for EVs, and we expect National Group to increase its exposure to these commodities over time.
I’m seeing a lot more earlier planning for mining equipment. For example I recently quoted for equipment that will be delivered to a mine site in 2023. Customers realise there will be equipment shortages next year if demand picks up right after Covid, and because less equipment was manufactured last year. We’re helping clients plan their equipment supply much further out.
- To contact Craig about your company’s equipment needs, email him via [email protected] or call National Group’s Head Office on 1300 794 448.