Xstract Strikes Client Services Gold
Xstract Mining Consultants is a premier collective of leading industry minds with a dependably proven track record and a ground-up approach to client services. Serving alongside other innovative Australian companies as a member of AUSTMINE, their particularly unique, down to earth style is a breath of fresh air to clients and has led to a surprisingly extensive global projects roster. Xstract Consultants have travelled to Africa, Europe and both North and South America on resource initiatives comprising a veritable who’s who of the periodic table. Everything from gold, diamonds, and platinum group elements to base metals, copper, nickels, even extending to bauxite, and uranium, are all resources Xstract consultants have had both operational and consulting experience with. Even though all of these resources are backed by a vast and substantial associates network, their greatest strength is their core operations team. While the company is only two and half years old, the team’s collective experience dwarfs that number, and it is this level of experience that served as the backbone for the company’s risky launch date. “We started in February 2009, which was the absolute bottom of the Australian financial cycle as a result of the global economic crisis,” says Managing Director, Mark Noppe. “It seemed very risky but we had such a strong group of guys, with so much experience, that we found a group of private investors to roll the dice with us.” Indeed, in this bleak economic period, finding start up capital is no easy task and the fact that Xstract’s team had it so readily available is an achievement in and of itself and a testament to their reputation. “We started in Brisbane and people wondered if we were coal specialists – which does account for a third of our business – but ultimately we chose Brisbane because it happened to be where we live,” Noppe jokingly says. Approximately a year later they opened a second office in Perth, which the team believed to be the next growth market and a logical next step in the company’s development strategy. “We started with our four founding members and we have grown from that core group to forty across both the Brisbane and Perth locations – that kind of growth is hard to find in either smaller or major operations.”
Building the foundation
Rapid growth and steady success in a start-up can always be attributed to a host of factors, and Xstract’s strategy has been to shore up the right people, in order to strengthen their corporate foundations. He says, “A successful consulting business needs two things. Number one is the right people on board and number two is obviously having the right clients.” With this belief in mind, the economic hurdles caused by the poor financial climate presented its own set of challenges that also had to be overcome. “We already knew that 2004 was already a great year for consulting which led to our determination to win at least some of that reduced work ,” Noppe says. Evidently this strategy has paid off and helped to launch the company to the status they currently enjoy. “You certainly can’t sit back and wait for it to come to you but we didn’t do that, we knew from the beginning that we were going to have to chase it.”
The consulting services Xstract offers are what one would expect from any major consulting firm and run a gamut of highly specialized skill sets. Starting with straight evaluative and due diligence reports, and continuing onto more target specific areas such as risk assessment, data management, mining engineering, planning and scheduling they also have capabilities in peripherals such as environmental impact and geo-statistical assessments. “We have set up a number of various market touch-points and tailored our marketing campaign to display the wide and extensive services we provide,” says Noppe, adding, “but really our great differentiator from competitors is our friendly, energetic client rapport.” With such a wide platform Noppe does say that their main operational focuses have been geological mineral reserves evaluations, mining engineering, oil and mineral reserve estimations, however they have found a foot hold in the due diligence sphere as well. “With any successful consultancy, the market will often tell you what your areas of focus are going to be.”
As with any business, providing a wide service base is a moot point when the right people are not available to see those services through. “More and more often we’re hearing clients mention that they’ve gone to several consultancies looking for the first person to take the job,” Noppe says. “So having the right availability and also the responsiveness to a client is important and that’s part of the client culture were trying to building.” It is widely believed that the best consultancies are able to join the client’s team seamlessly, with minimum time spent on assimilation. In other words, they can quickly learn the client’s wishes, adopt those goals, and immediately begin to operate at the same level of efficiency as an in-house employee with years in the company. “We want to engage with the client, work closely to try to understand what the issues are and work with directly with them – not separately because we don’t believe that provides an on-going sustainable solution for them,” he says. “You would think that that is a given, but one thing we have noticed with the larger guys is this tendency to work separately from the client and that is not ideal.”
This client-services philosophy is a reality that has served to underscore Xstract Mining’s rapid growth, vast services platform and their ability to draw some of the most talented specialists around. This pattern does not appear to be slowing any time soon and if the past is any model for the future, Xstract Mining Consultants can expect a long trail of satisfied clients as they continue to increasing their market share as well as their reputation.