Think Local

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One thing that distinguishes CSS member stores around the country—from the Northern Territory, to Western Australia to New South Wales—is that they understand the power of community, in good times and bad.

Local businesses are the lifeblood of small and regional towns and cities. Along with providing important goods and services, they often engage in activities that help to build and support the communities around them, through donations to charity and involvement in local sporting and not-for-profit organisations.

NT Fasteners has been operating in Darwin for 20 years, supplying a wide range of construction, engineering and mining products such as power tools, hand tools, ladders, wheelbarrows, safety equipment and clothing, pre-cast materials, nuts and bolts and, of course, a wide range of fasteners. The company supports a number of local charities, schools and sporting clubs in the local community. “We love to help out where we can—we donate goods for raffles at schools and contribute materials to help not-for-profit organisations rebuild for those who have been struck by unexpected losses,” says NT Fasteners manager Mick Cunningham.

No1 Roofing has been supporting the metal roofing industry in the greater Sydney area since 1990. It’s a family owned business, started by father and son team Tony and David Scali, which now boasts seven stores. The flagship store in Narrabeen is where the business began, and David is proud of the contributions this family owned and operated business has made to a wide range of organisations.

No1 Roofing recently made a $32,000 donation to the children’s cancer charity, Canteen, at the CSS conference in May2018, which, combined with CSS’s commitment, took the total to $68,650. The business also supports various local sporting organisations: “We’re the major sponsor of West Pymble Football Club,” says Scali. “We also sponsor the North Narrabeen Nippers, Narrabeen Football Club, Narrabeen Sharks Rugby League and Narrabeen Sands Fishing Club.”

From the shed

Ross’s Diesel Service is another family owned and operated business. The company has been trading for 30 yearsand is located in Merredin, a town situated on Great Eastern Highway, roughly halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie. Merredin’s population is on the rise, with mine sites, a wind farm and a solar farm all within less than a 100-km radius and bringing a significant working population to the town.

“What started out as one man, our dad Ross, fixing trucks in a small shed in 1986 has transformed into 20 employees and counting,” says administrative manager Amanda Swarts— Ross’s daughter-in-law. “We operate out of the same site but we’ve expanded tenfold from when we started.”

Ross’s Diesel Service used to offer only mechanical services and repairs to heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks and agricultural equipment, but in the last three years has pivoted into parts—namely power tools and trade supply.

They are heavily involved in the local community, having sponsored or donated items to 47 local sporting clubs and non-for-profit community groups in 2019 alone. “To be honest, I don’t think we said ‘no’ to anyone,” says Swarts. The company also partnered with the Eastern Districts Hockey Association, pledging financial support to both the association and each of the five clubs within it for five years, with each club receiving $5,000.

Ross’s Diesel Service also helps out the local Men’s Sheds. “Our local Men’s Sheds are mostly made of either semi-retired or fully retired blokes that are looking for projects,” says Swarts. “These are proud, sometimes stubborn men who have worked their fingers to the bone for decades before perhaps relinquishing their farm to their sons or daughters. They are not keen to fade away, and relish taking on local community projects.“We partner with them, referring jobs to them and also outsourcing a few jobs to their expertise.

They are also very good on the BBQ and we get them to cater whenever we have a trade day—they are so knowledgeable, and it’s wonderful to get them out socialising with us and our clients.” For the Men’s Sheds, sporting clubs and community groups who benefit, this means everything.

It can cost a lot to run these entities, and regional areas often get forgotten in funding. “It’s really hard to make the wheels turn in a small sporting group or community organisation,” says Swarts. “Often you find that you are on the board or committee of several organisations at once.”

The right thing to do

Why do these three local businesses feel there is such a strong need to support community groups and charities? “We do it to give back to the community that gives to us,” says Cunningham. “Darwin is a community where nearly everyone knows someone, across all aspects of life. We support the kids who have dads who support us—we support the charities that are supported by the people who support us.” Swarts adds: “In small towns and regional communities, the sporting clubs, men’s sheds, CWAs and community groups are really the lifeblood of the town.

If these things were to fold, I believe it would have a disastrous impact on the wider community. They require support—both financial and otherwise—to ensure that they all thrive.” “We rely on the support of our communities to provide great employees, suppliers and customers,”says Scali. “In turn, we need to care for our communities and those less fortunate if we are going to continue to enjoy the support of the communities that are the livelihood of our business. “Also, above everything else, it is just the right thing to do.”