Targeting the top end of town: doing business with big corporate clients

The old adage would have us start at the bottom and work our way up, but a young entrepreneur has found targeting large corporate clients has seen his business skyrocket.

Founder and Director of Safetyline Jalousie louvre windows Leigh Rust has overseen the doubling of business growth last year, largely by supplying to big volume clients including Mirvac and Meriton.

“We always aimed to align ourselves with the top end of town,” Rust says. “Even though some of the big developers are known to build on a budget and our product is top end, the way in for us was with new building code requirements.”

Key to Safetyline Jalousie’s success in winning its first big volume contracts was its product’s high performance in meeting stricter building code standards for both noise and energy efficiency requirements.

Rust and his team had been doing the groundwork of putting themselves in front of government and big corporates for some years, spruiking their product’s superior performance ratings.

“It took two years of hard work first and timing is key,” Rust says. “So was doing our research. You can send a million emails but there might only be 10 people you want to talk to.”

“You’ve also got to know who you are and what you do and make sure it relates specifically to what that client or user needs. It mightn’t necessarily happen right away but you’re there with the solution when it does.”

After the first high volume order, others followed and on the back of its corporate client base, Safetyline Jalousie quadrupled its market share in just three years.

Not bad for a young bloke turned away from his father’s business to earn his own stripes in the business world.

Leigh and his brother Nathan founded Safetyline Jalousie nine years ago, seeing a gap in the market for top-end louvre window systems, now much sought-after for their energy-efficient cross-ventilation properties.

The company’s products also have superior noise and strength ratings to others on the market.

“We’ve always made a point of having our performance testing and ratings carried out independently by respected agencies such as NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) Australia or the CSIRO,” Leigh said.

“We’ve never just wanted to meet minimum standards and always made sure that we exceeded them. It gives us that credibility that overseas products might lack.”

While not all market sectors might have been prepared to pay for it, that ethos put the company ahead of the game in meeting stricter National Construction Code (NCC) standards that came into force in May. It’s already positioned to capitalise on another tightening of the Code due in 2022.

Rust has been a regular on national Young Entrepreneurs lists for the past two years and was a finalist in this year’s Australian Construction Awards.

His advice to others looking to boost their business through mixing it with big players is to always keep that end goal in sight.

“You can get lost with the day-to-day of business, so you’ve got to keep your eyes on it,” Rust said. “But be adaptable, be nimble along the way and resilient. I use the word ‘stickability’.

“No doesn’t mean no. No means there’s another option,” he concluded.

Denise Raward, freelance writer

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