Making a regional difference with S&B Hire
SB HIRE & SALES’ General Manager, Aleisha Gray, says moving into the industry was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
It wasn’t the most conventional way to enter the Hire industry, but for Aleisha Gray and her husband Mitch, an opportunity to buy an established Hire business in Kingaroy (around 220km north-west of Brisbane) was too good to resist. At the time, they’d been running an electrical contracting business in the local area for over 10 years and had got to the point where Aleisha wasn’t really involved and was looking for something more. “We weren’t specifically looking for a business in hire, we were just looking for a business in our local area where we could make a difference,” says Aleisha.
“We saw this business come up for sale and while we thought about it for a while, it fitted our needs and is probably the best decision we’ve ever made.” SB Hire & Sales has operated in the
South Burnett region for more than 30 years. Aleisha and Mitch took over on 1 July 2022, spending the first 15 months giving the business some much needed love and attention.
With a relatively new team at SB Hire & Sales — their longest serving team member when they took over the business had been there for six weeks — they’ve had the opportunity to mould the
team in a culture they want the business to have, including in how they approach customer service.
“We weren’t specifically looking for a business in hire, we were just looking for a business where we could make a difference.”
“We knew from our electrical business that customer service has to be impeccable,” says Aleisha. “It’s so vital to ensure your clients are happy.”
“So we presented our values to the team and said, ‘this is what we expect and how we should all be treated so that’s how we want our customers to be treated.’ One of those was that we will sacrifice profit on a sale to make a customer for life. That’s what we’re instilling in our team.” From a customer perspective, there have been changes as well. When they
first bought the business, it was primarily catering to small business operators and the DIY sector However, in the last 15 months, their customer base has shifted towards larger companies.
“South Burnett is the biggest growing and processing area for Duboisia plant (grown commercially for the pharmaceutical industry),” says Aleisha. “We’re also home to a bacon processing
plant and a peanut processing plant plus a coal mine and power station. There’s also a solar farm and battery being built which will be a big change for this community.”
As a novice to the hire industry, Aleisha has had to adapt and learn on the job. “Buying an established business was very different to doing a start-up electrical business,” she says. “You’ve got to be patient and do the work. Nothing happens quickly, so you’ve got to do the hard yards to get where you want to be.”
“At the start of the year, I was impatient,” says Aleisha. “Then all these projects started to kick-off, we were getting bigger clients, and I was seeing the benefits of all the hard work we’d put in
over the previous 12 months.” She credits their growth and success to their passion for small business. “Mitch and I both grew up in the Blackbutt area, about half an hour from Kingaroy, and we wanted to do better for our region. While I had no clue about the hire industry, I just thought we could run the business better.” Aleisha’s love for the industry was
cemented in May after attending HIRE23 in Sydney. “I was initially focused on the numbers when we bought this business, but I have fallen in love with the hire industry because the people are completely genuine and I found it so easy to fit in. I also get a rush when I hire things which is one of the best benefits.”
“Since Hire23, the support I have had from the HRIA and the industry has been amazing. These events are so important from a learning and networking perspective, and I’ve gained a lot more direction for my business. I’ll be taking my whole team to Brisbane for HIRE24.” Despite being in the industry for a relatively short time, Aleisha is now a passionate advocate for hire.
“It’s a really great industry for anyone who wants to grow and learn,” says Aleisha. “When I left school, I wasn’t interested in university, I needed something that I could put my hands on and get dirty. Hire is such a great industry for someone like me because you can work, there’s variety, and you keep your mind busy.”
“Best of all, you can go so far. People might think, ‘I’m just a yard hand’, but one day you could be a salesperson or an Ops manager, a GM or business owner. There’s so much opportunity and it’s such a fulfilling industry.” She also encourages other young women to consider a career in hire. “Women tend to have this cautiousness when they’re going into a male dominated industry, but don’t be frightened,” says Aleisha. “Just get in, learn what you need to and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think that’s the biggest thing – you’ve got to back yourself and have confidence.”
Aleisha and Mitch have three young children — Jack, 8, Billy, 5 and Hugh, 3 — and own a 160-acre farm in the area where they ‘moonlight’ as hobby cattle farmers. They plan to build a house on the farm and stay in the area. “South Burnett is home for us,” she says. “I have massive plans for SB Hire & Sales so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing and bettering ourselves and the business every day.”