Wow 30 years! Sometimes I have to pinch myself so I know it’s not a dream…
Quite a milestone considering it’s estimated that 1 in 3 small businesses in Australia fail in their first year of operation and by the 5th year that statistics grows to 3 out of 4.
It is a remarkable achievement to reach 30 years and I feel blessed to be standing in front of you all to deliver this speech.
I joined Katestone in 1997, after a few years cutting my teeth in the consulting world at Dames & Moore. I would like to paint you a picture of what Katestone was like 22 years ago when I started.
Peter Best, the founder and principal of Katestone, would walk up the hill from his house with an arm full of papers, to the office up high on McGreggor Terrace. The office is small but homely, with sweeping views over Bardon, dotted with purple Jacaranda trees at this time of year.
Donna and Alma would greet Peter, who was smartly dressed in a colourful shirt and probably make him his third coffee for the morning. They will have already made sure that any programmers found crashed on the couch from an all-nighter were shuffled off home.
Simon and I would already be busy on the latest projects.
I often wondered how we got work back in those days! We certainly didn’t do any marketing. Our first website wasn’t launched until years later! I can’t actually remember writing quotes and we didn’t have many clients visit us either. Which was probably a good thing as we really didn’t have anywhere to meet them except for across the road at the coffee shop.
Despite this, we had heaps of work and it just kept coming in the door.
Our challenge was just getting all the work done. Although we didn’t have big fancy computers, google or google maps, no mobile phones or the internet we had a pretty good system. Simon or myself would do the modelling work and Peter would write the reports, dictated to Alma who would scribble it down in shorthand (Peter didn’t have a computer on his desk).
It always amazed me that Peter could dictate an entire report in almost a single sitting, including the results before I had finished the modelling.
I don’t remember ever having a project budget, we didn’t fill out timesheets and sometimes forgot to invoice clients! It’s a wonder we are still here! And team, don’t get any ideas – you will still need to fill out your timesheets.
Since then we have completed over 2000 projects generated more than 4000 reports for more than 1000 clients in 16 countries.
Over the years close to 50 staff members joined the Katestone family and we have collectively grown the population by 25 and recently Katestone added a new chapter.
At the beginning of 2018, we launched Weather Intelligence. Weather Intelligence was a natural progression from the work Katestone have been doing for many years, that is helping our customers understand the impact of weather on their business and then developing forecasting tools for managing these risks.
Big opportunities lay ahead for Weather Intelligence and giving it its own identity was the first step.
The weather plays an important role in everyday decisions, however, adverse weather risks lives and costs money, lots of money, an estimated $18 billion per year and growing! It has also been shown that for every $ spent on mitigating weather risk there is a 10 fold return on investment. Not bad!
There is no shortage of available data and information. However, for those who are making commercial decisions using this data, a lot of effort is required to sift through the complex information to allow them to make an informed decision. Customers are looking for simple and effective solutions that enable swift decision making.
I remember when we first looked at our competitors in this area. The first business that came to mind was the Bureau of Meteorology. Who wouldn’t! They have a huge team of meteorologists, a supercomputer, one of the most highly visited websites and they give all their forecasts away for nothing…! How can we compete with that!
Well, 18 months down the track, I can confirm we have now partnered with BOM to deliver solutions to customers. With many more to come.
This change of perspective has made us realise the value we are creating. It’s similar to what we have always provided at Katestone, a personalised solution, we take your problems and data and combine it with more data and analytics to generate a solution that works for you.
In the era of personalisation, personal Spotify playlists based on your heritage, diets tailored to your DNA or even Barbie books with your own children in the story, we see a need for customising the delivery of information to our clients. The one-size-fits-all approach is no longer enough.
Along these lines, the Katestone Consulting team has also been busy creating air quality intelligence! Most businesses have many sources of data that they need to manage air quality at their operations or present to the local community to keep their social licence to operate. They are also time-poor. At Katestone we have developed custom dashboards that provide clients with all their important information in one place, allowing them to make clear decisions.
In recent years, Katestone has also expanded overseas with a new office in Ireland. We have been operating in Ireland for just over 2 years completing a number of projects for the Irish Government, agri-food and intensive agricultural clients. Our wonderful Irishman, Mick Fogarty, has really been working hard and developed great relationships. He says his Irish charm doesn’t work so well at home, but I think he is underestimating his talents!
As we grow mature, we substantiate our vision which is Clear Skies for our clients and communities now and for future generations around the world. And we recognise ourselves as THE CLEARER CHOICE.
The future for Katestone is bright. We are growing, innovating and keeping ahead of changes in our industry. In fact, we are embracing the changes and building a stronger company for the future. As our world faces the challenges of population growth, management of our waste, more extreme weather, tighter regulations and a shift to alternative energy sources rest assured we will be with you helping you make the clearer choice.
With clients all over Australia and the world, it is nice to be grounded here in Brisbane with some amazing people who have helped us get to where we are today.
I would also like to thank Peter and Karen, for their foresight in starting the business 30 years ago and not being one of the small business statistics in the early years.
They say that success comes from the people whom you surround yourself with.
As I take a look around the room, it’s clear that our success is very much due to the talented individuals both past and present. Our dedicated team, advisors, partners, customers and friends, thank you for being part of the Katestone journey. Without you, it would not have been possible. We are looking forward to a clear and bright future together.