“Taking DWW Engineering further…” – An Interview with Tony Whittred

“What inspired you to buy DWW?”

Tony WhittredSince acquiring DWW in 2016, we couldn’t be happier with how the business and team has taken shape. My family have always been business owners, it’s in my blood. I have always had a personal ambition to one day be in the driving seat as it were, and DWW is certainly living up to my expectations.

After graduating from QUT as a Mechanical Engineer and cutting my teeth in fabrication shops across Brisbane, I moved to Mackay to join the mining Industry, managing trades, maintenance programs, annual shutdowns and capital projects. By the Mid 2000’s with a wealth of working knowledge ‘tucked under my belt’, I decided to embark on my very first partnership, investing in a fabrication business in Clermont.

Looking back, It is fair to say that early investment certainly came with its own unique set of challenges. Sadly, despite the interim successes I achieved, the partnership did not work out and so I dissolved the arrangement and moved on. But, after a period of time and reflection, I set off with a new willingness to achieve my ambition back in Brisbane.

When DWW came up for sale I was ready; I had a few more years’ experience and I had really done my homework this time! [laughing]. The business had great tenure but I was very aware it had been through some hard times and that previous owners had considered shutting the doors; there was no denying, DWW had potential! Finally, I found a business where I didn’t totally have to start from scratch again. With great foundations, a solid team, and a strong client base,  DWW ticked all the boxes.

Looking back to my first few months at DWW though I have to smile! There is no denying I was a little naïve [laughing]… I quickly learnt that despite my background and engineering expertise, I was not quite prepared for the enormity of the learning curve ahead of me. It has been an immense personal challenge but I’m now stronger and smarter because of it!

I have a clear vison for DWW and we are working extremely hard to strengthen our position. Our success truly stems from a great team with the right job skills and experience; Short-term we are focused on improvements for our working facilities, strengthening our systems, process, and quality output. Longer-term, we are truly invested in strengthening our culture and developing the engineering side of the business, bringing a full service offering to our customers across design, drafting, fabrication and installation.

 

Who are your clients?

With tenure, the business has built an extraordinarily strong client base, it is now the responsibility of myself and my team to ‘carry the mantel’, and continue improving and maintaining those established relationships, whilst always looking for new opportunities.

As a Brisbane based operation, we naturally deliver a significant amount of work in Queensland but, as specialist fabricators for clients in the Power, Water and Civil/Construction sectors, we regularly deal with clients in Melbourne, Sydney and even send work cross-country to WA and the Northern Territories; we pretty much deal Australia-wide, with the exception of Tasmania, to date! Our client base is still pretty varied though, catering to the needs of small builders and then scaling-up to turn around big projects for mid-tier, and large, Tier 1, Tier 2 organisations, and contractors.

 

What’s unique about DWW in your eyes?

Firstly, the age of the company, DWW has been going for 60 years this year, a huge milestone – I’m immensely proud to be the third owner. But, as I mentioned earlier, our client base is first-rate and DWW has truly been built on decades of great relations and by doing great business; we have the right assets at our disposal and a highly skilled team to deliver the work.

When walking the shop floor, I never get tired of that ‘engineer inside me’ who still gets excited about the type of work we do and indeed what we are capable of, especially the work we do for the Power industry across high voltage, power transmission sub-stations.

DWW has a great history in this sector and companies do approach us, to seek our opinion and expertise for their projects.

 

Speaking to your younger self, what advice would you give him – in hindsight?

Have a go! For me, my only regret is that I didn’t start earlier in business as an owner, I had a few opportunities and I let them slide, with such little risk if they’d failed, it still would have been a great learning curve! That aside, you can’t buy knowledge especially the technical side of engineering, it took me 20 years to amass that knowledge when building my career, so be prepared to work hard, I did.

I take great pride in being a business owner, seeing us grow and develop to achieve our goals, making those incremented steps to improve each and every day is so important;  seeing great client projects go out the doors and then receiving the positive feedback from clients on our work – really is very rewarding for everyone.