Industry Q&A: S&P Industrial find Success Overseas – One Mine at a Time!
Australian METS are renowned for their innovative mining technologies and highly respected for this around the globe. An outstanding example of this is S&P Industrial, an Australian manufacturer that specialises in improving operational efficiencies in water management and pump maintenance. Following the invention of their game-changing Reflex Suction Strainer, they have found success in the USA, Canada and Mexico, and have further markets in their sights. Austmine caught up with Simon Provost, Managing Director at S&P Industrial to discuss their International journey and how focusing on innovation has differentiated their products on a global stage.
Q: S&P Industrial have achieved significant success in the North American region. How did you manage to enter this highly competitive market?
A: It has been a long road, full of many lessons, with big investments in both money and time. Over the period of three years we revised the product from conception ten times, testing and tweaking, until we came up with the final product. During this time, we contacted an Australian company whom we knew were exporting their products into the US market. We asked if we could be introduced to their distributor. From there we made the flight to Pittsburgh to meet with the President and Head of Sales for North and South America.
From the first viewing of our product, they were quite excited by its innovation and potential. Later they informed us that they would probably have not met with us had we not been introduced by the other tried and trusted Australian company. But they were glad they had.
It took a further 12 months of back and forth on paperwork and contracts, a few small changes to the product offering (again), until finally we thought we had the package right. We then flew to Las Vegas and officially launched the product at the World Mining Expo.
The positive response from the market was overwhelming, not just from the USA, but from all corners of the globe. This was a key moment for us and our relationship with our distributor as it cemented the fact the product was not only innovative, but it had applications globally and not just in Australian mining. Since then it has been a process of little by little, mine by mine.
Simon Provost, Managing Director, S&P Industrial at MINExpo in Las Vegas where their technology gathered attention from miners around the world
Q: What advice would you have for other Australian companies looking to replicate this success?
A: I would love to say persistence and belief in your product offering. This does play a role, but if the product is right but in the wrong hands, it doesn’t matter how much persistence and belief you have. All that matters then is, how long can you survive until the money runs out? Even if you do get it right, the money will probably still run out!
Try and look at processes and decisions as analytically as you can, remove emotion, and seek trusted people to give you “free” and honest opinions. Some things feel so right at the time, a perfect fit, then as time passes you get a feeling something doesn’t add up. As soon as you feel this, stop immediately and analyse all the information. You will find your mistakes staring you in the face. Change it immediately and keep moving.
Make sure you don’t skimp on the legal expenses, they are key to protecting you and your ideas. We have spent a great deal of money making sure our World-Wide Patent and Design registrations are water tight.
Don’t ever think in the beginning that anyone understands your product and offering, no matter how good you think it is, or self-explanatory it is, get in there face to face and sell it to them.
Q: What International growth opportunities are in store for S&P Industrial next? What mining markets around the world excite you the most?
A: We have a distributor now in the UK and Western Europe, with plenty of work to be done there. This market has some fantastic growth potential for us. Put this with Canada and North, Central and South America and you have a very steep growth curve. For us, we see Russia and its surrounds as well as Africa, as exciting challenges. Hopefully we can cross paths with the right partners for these markets.
Q: S&P Industrial work in an important field within the mining sector, with water management becoming increasingly critical to the feasibility and sustainability of mining operations. How are you helping miners achieve their environmental goals?
A: Our product was designed and invented to meet some very basic needs in mining. Reduce breakdown costs and downtime, improve WHS and reduce waste. Pumps are everywhere, there is a pump for every job and water is always where you don’t want it. Either too much or not enough. The innovation in pumping technology is fantastic, but to us, a pump is only as good as its strainer. The better the strainer performs, the less downtime, the longer the pump runs, the safer the environment becomes. The cost savings alone in reduced pump blockages is unbelievable. The strainer is the mines first line of defence against water and keeping pumps pumping. Most people don’t pay enough attention to this simple fact. We achieve this with a recyclable product as well.
Q: With novel inventions such as the Reflex Suction Strainer, innovation appears to be central to your strategy. Why is this so important S&P Industrial?
A: Absolutely, our progress cannot be forward if we are not innovating, and that is true of all business. We need to do better, be more efficient and less wasteful. The Reflex Suction Strainer was invented purely out of the fact the current offering is very wasteful, costly and unsustainable. It was if, close enough was good enough. Well not anymore. We must look at things differently. Just because we have always done something a certain way, does not mean it is the best way. Don’t be afraid of change.