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  • Writer's pictureUniversal Electro Tech


Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Chris Hicks the Principal of Universal Electro Tech and Universal Switchboards was born in Manchester, England. As a young boy he was eager to make money and started working at the age of 11 doing newspaper rounds. He would be the first person at the store, bright eyed and bushy tailed rearing to go with deliveries, irrespective of the dark, dreary and sometimes wet mornings. With the money he made weekly, he proudly gave his dad housekeeping. Richard Branson stated “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.” It was clear from a very young age that Chris had a natural entrepreneurial flair and was destined for greater things. So just how did the humble, 9-finger Englishman become a success?

Chris qualified as an Electrician in the United Kingdom and after serving his apprenticeship and working in England for a period of time, the world became his oyster. He worked in multi-disciplinary roles in a supervisory capacity with renowned organizations like Bechtel and Fluor. Chris’s passion for the construction and oil and gas industry, took him to different parts of the world like Qatar, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, South Africa, Venezuela, Middle East and Saudi Arabia. He worked in harsh climates, with temperatures soaring beyond 50 degrees. They say only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. He was clearly an Englishman that was not afraid of the heat and carrying out an honest, hard day’s labour.

In 1983 Chris migrated to the beautiful, sunny, undeveloped shores of Western Australia where he worked at the Argyle Diamond Mine, Worsley Refinery and General Electric. Chris believed that while making a living, it was equally important to spend time with friends and family. One evening Chris set off to the pub for a whisky with a friend, who asked him if he knew new people with North Sea experience. Chris loves a challenge, so he put a tender together which he won to provide labour hire. Dare Contract Services was born from this tender and established in 1988 with its first ten contractors. This was to be the start of Chris’s journey as an entrepreneur, where he was to make an impact on an international scale. Clients allowed Chris to take control of their interests and lead initiatives, while contractors and personnel entrusted him and his team to secure work and payroll them. Chris ensured this trust was met with unrivalled service which was the backbone of Dare Contract Services.

With just over 29 years’ experience in end-to-end recruitment services for major projects throughout Australia and internationally within the mining, engineering, energy, geo science and oil and gas industry, Chris sold Dare Contract Services in 2017 with a successful annual turnover of $150million plus. When you ask Chris, what his greatest success is, his first answer without fail is being married. Rita Rudner so expressively stated ‘I love being married, it’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of our life.” So just how did he achieve his success? Whether you are married or run a business they both require hard work, dedication, fun, perseverance and respect. Most importantly, you need to put in to be able to take out, if you take out more than you put in, there will be nothing left. Chris describes five factors to the success of Dare Contract services, manage your cashflow effectively, don’t’ be afraid to say no to prospective work if you know it is to your business’s detriment, look after your employees, value your clients and price correctly.

It is no secret that many organizations are submitting abnormally low tenders and in fact pushing quotes out the door with little, to no margin. How can the public be confident in the infrastructure and construction sector when projects are failing to be delivered and organisations are going into insolvency? Are we as consumers guilty for contributing to an epidemic problem pushing for discounts, driving pricing down and unconsciously devaluing the individual or companies service, expertise and ability to resolve a problem! Would you wake up in the morning to do an honest day’s work and not get paid for it, why then are we expecting organisations and sole traders to ‘drop their pants’. If you are going to offer a discount, ensure you are still making a profit and there is adequate contingency allowance in place for your project. Understand the value of the service or product you are providing and how the work carried out will benefit your client, a sale will then be made regardless of price.

It is evident looking back, Chris’ newspaper rounds provided him with the foundation of the value of money and his desire for growth. What excited Chris was to help people and with his passion it transformed into a successful business providing capital. It did not mean along the way, that clients did not test the waters to ask for a price reduction. If a discount could be provided, a profit was still made. Chris is certainly not ready to be in ‘Gods waiting room’, he is excited to go back to his roots of electrical work and support the next generation of electrical innovations working with Universal Electro Tech and Universal Switchboards. Help us create a National Profit Day annually on the 1st of July which marks the beginning of the fiscal year to make a profit!

We choose to be a business that prices fairly while making a profit, do you? To ensure our sustainability in a tough market place, prospective work is priced correctly, which means we may not win every job and that is okay as we like to keep our trousers on. Perhaps the 9 fingered Englishman knows a thing or two, we believe it’s not cynicism it’s five decades of experience! Universal Electro Tech, together with Universal Switchboards, provide a comprehensive range of technically advanced electrical services to the commercial, industrial, construction and mining industry throughout Perth, and regional areas of Australia solving your electrical problems. Connect to a great team of switched on qualified Electricians that deliver positive solutions to you and your business. Electrical Solutions Designed and Delivered by Universal Electro Tech and Universal Switchboards. Contact our team on (08) 9328 9491 | | or visit our premises at 105 Robinson Avenue, Belmont, WA 6104.

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