“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end”
Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness
In my letter from the 2020 Annual Report, I spoke of “the worst of times” and “the winter of despair” in a reference to the COVID-19 pandemic in which we were still in the early stages and a great uncertainty was ahead. Here we are, a year later, and we are still in business profitably, although there is a new variant of the virus in the Australian community.
We have learned to live with this virus and with our populations in Australia and New Zealand getting vaccinated, we are hopefully looking at a more normal life in the future than the one we have lived for the past eighteen months. ARA is doing its part to encourage our employees to get vaccinated. When each employee is fully vaccinated, they will be given an extra day of paid annual leave. In addition, at the end of each month from August to December, every employee fully vaccinated in the month will participate in a lottery with the winner each month receiving $10,000. Despite the uncertainty of the present moment, we have to remain focused and optimistic on the future.
There is another reason at the end of this financial year to celebrate. We have completed our twentieth year of operations in a very strong operational and financial position. The theme of this year’s Annual Report is a celebration of twenty successful years.
The twenty-year journey has been hard work, but it has been rewarding and it is one in which I feel great pride in our accomplishments. As Bob Marley said, “Though the road’s been rocky it sure feels good to me.”
Throughout this year of uncertainty, various lockdowns, the ebb and flow of the coronavirus, ARA continued to improve the collaboration between our divisions and the Senior Management Team. We continued to meet regularly, share customers and share opportunities for our products and services.
Managing during this pandemic has made ARA a better company. The collaboration and communication between senior managers have improved significantly. The meetings at the senior management level has encouraged a secondary level of collaboration with managers, salespeople and business development personnel around ARA. The emphasis of all the meetings have been cross-selling and introducing all of ARA services to existing customers.
I am extremely thankful for the efforts and support of the Senior Management Team. They are an extraordinarily talented group of individuals. The length of time we have all worked together is a real strength of ARA.
20 years of growth
Revenue declined for only the second time in the twenty-year history of ARA to $576 million from $621 million in 2020, a decline of $45 million, or 7%. Despite the decrease in revenue in 2021, revenue has still grown at a compounded growth rate of 9% during the past ten years. The main factor that has resulted in our decline in revenue is the impact of COVID-19 and a reduction in infrastructure works, due to a number of large contracts completing at the end of last financial year.
20 years – Celebrating the past, looking to the future
“This twenty-year journey has been a dream come true for me.”
Edward Federman, Executive Chair and Managing Director
Thirty-five years ago, as I was gaining experience working for a large, growing multi-divisional business, I dreamt about building a business myself someday. I had the great fortune to come to Australia in the 1990’s, working for a large Australian building services business.
During this time, I worked with Leo Browne and we grew the business profitably for which we had responsibility. We agreed that someday we would build a business for ourselves. For Leo, this was to be a hobby. For myself, I had dreams of growing a significant building services business in Australia and New Zealand.
ARA has demonstrated its resilience and the benefits of its diverse range of services during the past twenty years. We have weathered the world economic problems in 2008 – 2010 profitably and thus far, we have maintained the business profitably during the past eighteen months of an unprecedented pandemic. We continued to make strategic acquisitions during 2021. ARA is seen by vendors of businesses as an acquirer of choice.
We thrive upon the culture we have created during the past twenty years. It is a culture of collaboration within and an unwavering focus upon delivering the work we have been contracted to perform for our customers. Overlaying these characteristics is a desire to contribute to the communities where we work. This has evolved through the ARA Endowment Fund, very generous contributions to the arts and literature and contributing to communities suffering from natural disasters.
This twenty-year journey has been a dream come true for me. It is very difficult to adequately express the gratitude I have for the Senior Management Team I work with each day and the 2,500 employees of the ARA Group. I look forward to the next twenty years.
A very special thank you to the Unsung Heroes 2021
“They work hard and rise to the challenge. They lead through example, uplift their teammates and provide extraordinary customer service. They embody the resourceful spirit of ARA and they are indispensable to our success. These are some of the unsung heroes of our Group. We are proud to share in their achievements.” – Edward Federman