An all in ap­proach

Paul Lit­tle’s strate­gies for suc­cess

Business First - - FRONT PAGE -

How does one of the most pow­er­ful men in lo­gis­tics, run­ning one of the most sig­nif­i­cant com­pa­nies in that in­dus­try move from freight, trans­port and lo­gis­tics ser­vices into property? Ac­cord­ing to Paul Lit­tle, the tran­si­tion isn’t as dif­fi­cult as you think. Tran­si­tion is all about knowl­edge and in­te­gra­tion.

“Toll had a very large num­ber of prop­er­ties around Aus­tralia and around the world re­ally. So you ac­quire cer­tain skills and knowl­edge about de­vel­op­ing property. I have al­ways found property very in­ter­est­ing. When I left Toll, I thought property de­vel­op­ment was a risk that was more eas­ily man­aged than per­haps other forms of in­vest­ments.” A brief his­tory of Toll By the time Lit­tle had de­parted Toll, he had served the or­gan­i­sa­tion for well in ex­cess of 20 years and felt that the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­quired a fresh per­spec­tive.

“I think it’s good to have a chang­ing of the guard in most or­gan­i­sa­tions over that pe­riod. I felt it was time for Toll to bring in new ideas.”

It is al­ways a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to step away from an or­gan­i­sa­tion that has shaped your life as much as you have shaped that com­pany’s struc­ture, share­hold­ing and fo­cus. Lit­tle says it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make, but the right de­ci­sion.

He came to the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor’s po­si­tion in 1986 af­ter be­ing largely re­spon­si­ble for ar­rang­ing the man­age­ment buy­out from Peko Wallsend. This deal set up Lit­tle’s ca­reer for the next 26 years.

“The main chal­lenge in ne­go­ti­at­ing the buy­out was to agree on a price. The busi­ness was for sale and we were ul­ti­mately able to ne­go­ti­ate an ar­range­ment that Peko were happy with. We had the in­ter­est and we had the de­sire; we just needed to go to Peko and have them agree on a price and the to­tal pack­age.”

Lit­tle was able to trans­form Toll from this point on­wards. Peko Wallsend owned Toll and a num­ber of other di­ver­si­fied en­ti­ties. By pri­vatis­ing Toll, it meant the fo­cus could shift solely to mak­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion a lo­gis­tics pow­er­house.

“The buy­out gave us the abil­ity to grow the Toll busi­ness, to ex­pand the range of ser­vices of­fered by the busi­ness. It was al­ways a very good busi­ness, but per­haps wasn’t get­ting the fo­cus and at­ten­tion that we were able to give it. So I think we gave the busi­ness a new life in many re­spects.”

Post the man­age­ment buy­out, the fo­cus shifted to sur­vival in a very com­pet­i­tive trans­port in­dus­try. Our fo­cus then moved to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a longer-term strat­egy.

“Hav­ing a busi­ness that was in many ways fo­cused on de­light­ing cus­tomers with ser­vice lev­els was an im­por­tant at­tribute of our ap­proach. It is an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive in­dus-

try; al­ways has been. But I think to be able to of­fer the cus­tomers high lev­els of ser­vice and great lev­els of in­no­va­tive and cre­ative so­lu­tions worked re­ally well. And then as the com­pany grew, we were able to in­te­grate those ser­vice of­fer­ings across dif­fer­ent modes of trans­port and across dif­fer­ent ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas. Pre­vi­ously a cus­tomer might have had three or four trans­port ser­vice sup­pli­ers with dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies to get goods moved from Asia into Aus­tralia, but un­der our strat­egy they would just need to make one phone call and they could track the move­ment of the goods. That was unique at the time. It’s not unique now, but we of­fered seam­less, in­te­grated ser­vice and we built a com­pany that would ac­tu­ally deliver that.”

Toll Hold­ings de­vel­oped to be­come the pre-em­i­nent provider of in­te­grated lo­gis­tics ser­vices in the Asia re­gion. A clear vi­sion, the knack to em­ploy the best people and the abil­ity to of­fer an in­te­grated ser­vice al­lowed the busi­ness to be unique and very suc­cess­ful.

“And we grew the busi­ness ag­gres­sively,” Lit­tle says. “That ag­gres­sive growth com­bined with the strat­egy that we had in place at that point in time worked re­ally well.” Ap­ply­ing the in­te­grated ap­proach to property The in­te­grated ap­proach that worked so well for Toll, is the same ap­proach Lit­tle takes with Lit­tle Projects. With this property de­vel­op­ment ven­ture Lit­tle has as­sem­bled a team of property ex­perts, whose pur­pose is to not only build some of the most unique apart­ments in Mel­bourne, but to also of­fer an in­te­grated ser­vice to ten­ants and own­ers that doesn’t just fin­ish with the sale of a property. Lit­tle Projects is a multi-faceted property group that fo­cuses on de­liv­er­ing in­no­va­tive and high qual­ity res­i­den­tial and commercial property so­lu­tions around Mel­bourne. With suc­cesses in commercial, land sub­di­vi­sion and apart­ment de­vel­op­ments, the com­pany’s core com­pe­tency

Lit­tle Projects is a mul­ti­fac­eted property group that fo­cuses on de­liv­er­ing in­no­va­tive and high qual­ity res­i­den­tial and commercial property so­lu­tions around Mel­bourne.’

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