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Darwin remains a mystery to many Australians. Its people, remoteness, geography, climate and commerce are entirely unique. Mass Resources, one of Australia’s leading recruitment providers to the mining, construction, renewables and infrastructure industries, opened a dedicated Darwin office to service the Northern Territory in the midst of the pandemic in November 2020.

Everywhere in the world lays claim to being unique. In Darwin’s case, this growing city and gateway to Kakadu has earnt a well-deserved reputation for being welcoming, friendly and having a relaxed outlook on life.

Darwin is both an amazing place to live and highly welcoming to those who relocate here with a view to calling it home – however a noted wariness exists to businesses seeking to establish a footprint in the Territory. With an unrivalled lifestyle and idyllic although remote location, Darwin has dedicated and developed industry that services commerce for both the city and broader region – but establishing a business here is no easy task for an outsider due to how loyal the locals are to both their way of life, and each other.

Darwin presents challenges to a business that you will not find anywhere else in the country,” said Operations Manager for Mass Resources, Andy Kelly. “When we first decided to expand our presence to a dedicated office supported by local personnel, we identified early on that establishing bona fides with local businesses and stakeholders presented the highest risk to getting off the ground. Darwin businesses like to buy from Darwin businesses – it’s a small, established, and tight network that can be wary of new entries. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and we certainly had our work cut out for us.”

Reflecting back on the initial launch one year on, NT Business Manager Kayleigh Barnes believes that Mass’ proactive approach and commitment to integrating into the community has been key to the new office growing its client-base and footprint. Although there have been many challenges, Kayleigh feels that the common thread in overcoming these has been Mass’ flexibility, “You don’t change Darwin – you change for it. Other recruitment providers have tried and failed – if you bring in big systems, big infrastructure, a big corporate mindset and try to pass big costs through to local market, you are no chance here. We very quickly customised and overhauled all of our existing protocols and procedures to focus more exclusively on what Darwin clients actually want from their workforce – and the way that they want it done.”

When considering the importance of ‘localising’ operations and customising their approach to this unique market, Kayleigh added, “The best advise we received was – ‘make friends. Do favours. Have a drink with people. Don’t expect anything in return. Turn up again and again, even if it leads to nothing. Prove that you are here to stay. Be active in the community. Show them long term commitment. And don’t bring your old mindset with you. Tap into the Darwin one. Then you are half a chance’. We took that to heart – and we’ve built upon it successfully to the stage where we are now hiring new local recruiters to service our growing client base. We’ve been here a year now and we know we’re still a long way off – but taking the time to understand this market, its mindset and people is a commitment we know is critical to our long-term vision.

The positive market response to Mass more retail and hands on approach to entering the NT has seen the Darwin office now adding additional personnel – as well as establishing itself in a more permanent home on Reichardt Road in Winnellie so that it can better service the local industry located there. No longer a satellite office servicing national clients with NT operations, it now has clients across industry and throughout the city of all sizes and scope. From assisting with local content requirements to intricate off-shore permanent placements through to more temporary labour hire solutions – the fledgling operation is steadily continuing to grow.

Kayleigh and her team have made an impact far quicker than we had planned,” added Andy. “Obviously hard work underpins it all – however she has completely turned our approach to new markets upside down by forcefully repeating at every opportunity ‘That won’t work here, we’ve got to do it the Darwin way.’ Results have proved her right, she’s made the effort to understand how business here works and her energy is doing the rest. We’re staying out of the way and letting the people on the ground get on with it – which is as she has told us, is the Darwin way” he concluded.

With national infrastructure and the resourcing power that comes with their broad footprint, Mass’ growth into new territories throughout Australia has not made them lose focus on what makes them unique. The story of their expansion into Darwin is an example of their local solutions for local areas focus.

To find out more about how Mass can help you with your human resourcing requirements either in Darwin or throughout the Northern Territory, or to enquire about current job opportunities, contact Kayleigh Barnes at kayleigh.barnes@massresources.com.au for a confidential and no-obligation discussion.