Starting a business from scratch is a challenge even in buoyant conditions, but doing so during an industry-wide slump would take that challenge to a whole new level.

Despite the expected difficulties, this is exactly what Teck Global Managing Director and Founder David Zucaro did when he started the power systems integration company in 2014.

Surprisingly, Mr Zucaro said he was quite lucky to have started the company when he did.

“When we started, it was during one of the sharpest declines for the mining industry, at the end of 2014 into 2015, and there were big projects finishing, leaving a lot of talented people available for hire,” he said.

“People say it’s easier to grow a business during a boom, but it’s also very difficult trying to acquire talent, especially when you don’t have a brand name. People are reluctant to risk it all on an unknown in a boom, but during a downturn people take the jobs they can get.

“We had people reject us initially before they came back willing to give us a go because we were the ones offering a job.”

In the five years since Teck Global’s initiation, the company has gone from strength to strength from its base in Perth, Western Australia.

In recognition of its success, the company recently picked up the Business News Rising Star Award in the Medium Business category, and last year Mr Zucaro was nominated as a Western Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

The recognition is unsurprising given the clientele Teck Global has attracted.

Adding yet another major iron ore miner to its client book earlier this year, the company won a contract with Roy Hill, building on work it has done for Rio Tinto and BHP.

“Winning the Roy Hill project was a highlight, but delivering it will be even bigger for me,” Mr Zucaro said. “The wins are a bit of a feather in our cap, as it shows we’re getting recognised across the industry, but each and every day is a high point at the moment.”

Teck Global started out as a family-only team, with Mr Zucaro undertaking almost all of the work the company took on, but as the company has grown he has moved into more of a project management and overseeing role.

Although no longer required to be as hands-on as he once was, Mr Zucaro said being able to get involved with the practical construction of projects was one of the things he most enjoyed about his job.

“When you design these big things for the mining industry and you see them being built, it really gives that wow factor,” he said. “With that, there’s this whole continuous improvement process, as you learn new lessons when you complete each project and get better each time.

“I also love being able to see a project from start right through to finish. Some people who work on huge gas projects work on them for years and years and don’t get to

see the projects to completion, but the timeframes in iron ore especially are quite short, allowing you to see a project from design to practical completion in a few months.”

Following on from starting the company at a critical time in the industry, Mr Zucaro said Teck Global was similarly bene ting from the current ramp up in the mining industry, a factor he thinks will continue for some time.

“All four of the major iron ore miners doing major upgrades over the next few years is fantastic news for those involved with the mining industry, especially here in WA,” he said. “Plus, with lithium picking up as well, it is providing a new opportunity for WA to do something different and supply another critical mineral resource to the world.

“We are already one of the top mining jurisdictions globally and it looks like we’re going to maintain that position for a very long time.”

Looking to further capitalise on this, Mr Zucaro said he planned to diversify Teck Global’s offerings to stay ahead of the sector’s future needs.

“We’d like to get more involved with the utilities and renewables space,” he said. “With the mining industry looking to boost its green credentials, and with the renewable energy sector picking up, we’re going to see a lot more renewables focus in future mines being developed.

“Building our experience in this sector now will put us in a good position to adapt our solutions when green requirements are more commonplace.”

In terms of improvement, Mr Zucaro said the mining industry needed to work on its public perception, as this was resulting in a lack of new people training to enter the industry.

“The number of new mining engineers graduating from the WA School of Mines is significantly on the decline and people have been saying mining is too cyclical and they are scared they’re going to have a job for three years and then not have a job for three years,” he said.

“The mining industry needs to get together to work out how to fix this perception problem to get talented people into our industry, and not just have to rely on an international pool.”

Image: (L-R): Teck Global Operations Manager David Ong, Teck Global Managing Director David Zucaro and Teck Global Engineering Manager Ben Ko.