Gavin Fleming has always appreciated his dad’s advice ‘don’t leave town son, you’ll always make a quid here in Roma.’
Since starting his welding business in 1994 servicing the oil and conventional gas industry in south west Queensland, Gavin Fleming has heeded his father’s words and has cautiously grown his family company in line with the recent development of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry.
Gavin Fleming recently spoke with the GasFields Commission about his family’s small engineering company and their experience servicing the onshore gas industry from Roma. Gavin is pictured (far left) with employees Corie Pukallus and Mark Theron and GasFields Commissioner John Cotter.
“We are doing ten times more work with the CSG industry than we were doing with the conventional gas industry. We’ve gone from 5 or 6 employees six years ago to now 25 to 30 employees here in Roma,” Mr Fleming said.
“Our main business is welding pipe – ninety percent of what we weld is round!
“We build pipework here, we pressure test it, we x-ray it, we sand blast it, we prime and paint it and we’ll go to the site where on some occasions we will do final cuts and tie-ins. We produce and repair pipework for well heads, gathering lines and compressor stations.
Mr Fleming said his cautious approach comes from years of experience riding the ups and downs of the onshore oil and gas industry. He has found most companies will not sign long term contracts and only go as far as having agreements with suppliers.
While he expects a tapering off of business activity over the next 12 months to 2 years as the major CSG projects move from construction to operations, he still sees a bright future for his company.
“There will still be drilling going on here for many years to come and I think little companies like ours will stay pretty busy if not busier. We intend to stay here and keep chipping away and make a little bit all the time – I’m happy enough with that,” he said.Lessons learnt
Mr Fleming said one of the most important lessons for his small family business has been the focus on quality and ensuring the compliance and paperwork is perfect to meet their customers’ needs.
“There’s a lot more paperwork behind what we do these days and we are in the process of having our ISO9001 accreditation which is a big thing for a small company like ours.
“Relationships have also been important. We’ve been here a long time and I have personally worked alongside a lot of people who are now in senior positions and have a relationship with them.”
Mr Fleming said attracting and retaining good staff has been a challenge in Roma.
“Over the years we’ve had a bit of turnover but it’s been pretty good for a while now. We are running about five apprentices here including two school based apprentices, but we’ve also had to look to a mix of local and foreign workers.
“Our workshop supervisor is a fitter and turner from South Africa who answered our advertisement four years ago and has been with us ever since. He came over on a 457 visa but has become a permanent resident and lives here in Roma.
“Overall I think we’ve been lucky to be able to grow with the industry here, to keep up with their requirements and be able to service them fully with everything they want,” Mr Fleming said.
As for the future, Gavin Fleming intends to stick with his dad’s advice and hopes his business in Roma can continue to ‘make a quid’.
For more information on Fleming’s Welding Service at Roma visit their website.