An Indigenous contracting group in partnerships with miners including Fortescue and BHP is calling for more major companies to give Aboriginal workers a go, saying they’re meeting their business targets and milestones “faster than expected”.
Cundaline Resources is owned by Njamal/Tjiwarl man Brenden Taylor. Taylor is also the company’s executive managing director and the son of successful mining businessman Barry Taylor.
Born in Port Hedland, Taylor was was raised in the Pilbara’s Jinparinya Aboriginal Community. He finished school at Port Hedland Senior High School in Year 11, but completed a four-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship with BHP Billiton Iron Ore.
After slugging it out as a tradesman in the punishing Pilbara heat, Taylor said he was shown the ropes of business by his father.
“I got into business in 2010 after I finished on the tools,” he told the National Indigenous Times.
“It was a good learning experience over the years. I always knew in the back of my mind that one day I wanted to run my own business.”
Six years after he entered the business world, Cundaline Resources was born. The company started doing labour hire, working out of Taylor’s garage.
“Labour hire is really hard work, and it was dictated by the client who said who we could employ and who we couldn’t,” Taylor said.
In March, Cundaline Resources gained their contractor status, which would enable Taylor to have freedom over employment and contract terms.
“The major thing that I want to see is Indigenous people in jobs,” Taylor said.
“We’re running 80 per cent Indigenous employment (and) for a while there we were running 100 per cent Indigenous employment.
“Cundaline Resources is about giving opportunities to people who don’t get opportunities.”
With a strong connection to community, Taylor finds a lot of fulfilment in empowering mob.
“It feels so great when resumes come over from Ashburton (Aboriginal Corporation), the employ ment agency in Port Hedland. The feeling when you know you have another person that will never get this opportunity … getting them through that process is just such a great feeling,” he said.
“We are a family and we stick together.”
Taylor is one half of Cundaline Resources’ top team. Its chief executive, Fred Spring, has been with the company since the garage days.
Mr Spring said the growth had been “overwhelming”.
“When you’re seen to be the ‘go to’ Indigenous business — every man and his dog wants a bite of you. As you grow it is overwhelming, in terms of the commitment and time spent on jobs and getting the right people to work within business,” he said.
“We control what we do here. That’s the key.”
One of Cundaline Resources’ biggest supporters is Fortescue Metals Group, which awarded Cundaline Resources the contract for their West Canning Basin earth-works at the Iron Bridge Magnetite Project in May this year.
“It’s sort of happening faster than we expected. We are meeting our targets and milestones — we just keep pushing along and delivering and we’ll see where we go from there,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor is humbled by the immense support, including that of FMG, BHP and their Tier 1 contractor clients.
“I am so proud of what we have achieved so far here at Cundaline and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us,” Taylor said.
By Rachael Knowles