Dream big and believe you can achieve anything is the life philosophy of Simon Kennedy, founder and Managing Director of engineering and specialist steel fabrication company Smart Fabrication.
From humble beginnings, the Port Adelaide based company has grown significantly and today has about 50 highly qualified staff and contracts in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
“A while ago I would have said I was a South Australian company. Now I would say I am an international organisation with head office in South Australia,” Simon said.
Simon has been working for the past 10 years to get ‘Smart Fab’ well positioned to capitalise on the upcoming defence work heading South Australia’s way.
“In 2014 Smart Fab won the national Endeavour Award in the category of Business Transformation and in 2015 the Defence Teaming Centre named us the Most Outstanding SME in Defence.
“With the defence industry ready to take off, South Australians need to build their businesses and get trained and ready now, not just when the projects are advertised.
“These awards are proof that Smart Fab has worked consistently to build the capability and capacity needed to meet the needs of the defence industry”.
The youngest of seven children, Simon is a true Aussie battler success story. After having a rough time throughout school, Simon left in year ten after being told he was a day dreamer that would never amount to anything.
“A teacher of mine said I should go get a job as a welder as it’s probably the best I could ever hope for,” Simon said.
“So I left school at sixteen and took on a welding apprenticeship but, the important thing is, I always worked hard and never gave up my dream.
“Almost fifteen years ago at the age of thirty-five, I went out on my own and started my first business, despite people telling me a high school drop out with no business training could not succeed.
“I started Smart Shed Shelving and I begged, borrowed and relocated using whatever money I made to buy new equipment and build my business. Within a year I had a couple of staff.
“Five years ago I saw significant opportunities on the horizon in defence, and bought a rundown ship yard which was turning over about $200,000 a year. Within two years we had that up to almost $2 million a year.
“What is now Smart Fab grew through hard work, good customer service, relationship building and innovation and now turns over around $10 million annually”.
These days, Simon is always looking for ways to give back to the community, running fitness classes with his wife Tracey, doing motivational speaking and strongly supporting the Northern Economic Plan.
“I got involved with the Northern Economic Plan as I am passionate about growing jobs, industry and optimism in the north,” Simon said.
“I want to help people believe they can achieve their goals but I always tell them that if they want to succeed they need the right attitude and they have to be prepared to work hard.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the right attitude and a lot of hard work”.
If you have a dream to start your own business, the new $10 million Small Business Fund may be able to help. Financial assistance is available through two grant programs over three years. For more information visit the Small Business Development Fund