For many, early adulthood is a period of independence, exploration and energy. Those in their 20s apply that energy in many different ways, and it’s not always a clear or straight path. But for Josh Large, his path was obvious – he was determined to be in business.
In 2004, at the age of 23, he founded electrical infrastructure provider JLE Electrical, and remains the company’s Managing Director and Founder to this day. “I always knew I wanted to be in business,” he recalls of those early years.
“I’d finished my trade and like all 23-year-olds, I thought I knew a hell of a lot – a little bit naive, once I reflect. At the end of the day, I knew I was a hard worker and I was resilient. I wasn’t a quitter, so I just needed to give it a go.”
So that’s what he did, building on his apprenticeship and experience as a tradesman in the electrical industry. Josh is the first to admit there wasn’t a complete business plan at that initial stage, but his determination to be in business saw him through the early years.
Following this, he took it upon himself to build on his knowledge through training and reading, eventually developing a strategic plan around JLE’s future, but equally crucial to this learning process was to surround himself with the right people.
“I was obviously a tradesman with experience, but I needed to grow my technical knowledge, particularly as we started to specialise in the high-voltage industry,” he says.
“As the years went on, I had built really good accounting and finance teams, so that assisted me with knowledge around accounting practices and general business processes.”
Today, JLE Group operates across engineering, construction, utility services, and mining and tunnelling, and the people within JLE are a source of pride and motivation for Josh. Over the past 17 years, he’s seen numerous people join JLE and grow alongside the business.
In the beginning, the focus was on “finding the best people” in the industry, as far as technical knowledge went. But Josh says his priorities have shifted from expertise to attitude when assessing potential team members.
“It all comes down to recruiting the right people with the right mentality,” he explains. “The right people with the right values that are aligned with the business and what we want to achieve. In our industry, a lot of people can get tied up with technical ability and it is seriously important. But equally as important – sometimes more important – is making sure that the people that are onboarded in the business have the same values as myself and all the other key staff. That is, to look out for the business and the business will look after you.”
It’s an ongoing challenge to find good people in the industry, Josh says, so his strategy of training up new entrants to the field certainly seems a sound alternative.
As well as a basic level of industry understanding and the ability to learn more – as Josh himself displayed in the first few years of JLE – the right attitude, loyalty and a capacity for teamwork are crucial attributes.
But when engineering a productive and healthy culture, it’s not enough to just hire those with a good attitude. Josh believes that culture flows from the top down, and so it’s his responsibility to provide a good example.
“The old saying, ‘first and last to go’ – I certainly live by that mentality,” he says. “If I’m the leader and I’m working harder than anyone else, people will, therefore, follow. So I think that creates a good culture. People see that commitment to the business and they buy into that.
“I see that as key in leadership – you’ve got to be respected, you’ve got to be able to make hard decisions, you’ve got to be able to pat the right people on the back at the right time and support them.
“So we’re very conscious that we’ve got very good people, and those very good people just need good support. My job is to support our people as much as I can and continue to encourage the same culture to grow. I just bring the right people in.”
Before we continue into a project, we want to understand what the client needs, so we can successfully deliver it.
JLE also relies on a collection of partners to deliver electricity infrastructure around Australia. For example, Dubbo Powerhouse is a 16-year partnership that dates back to JLE’s inception.
The company provides support in the construction and mining industries in regional NSW locations like Dubbo, Parkes and Cobar. Josh describes them as especially helpful in that JLE works in a reactive mentality, fixing issues as soon as they crop up.
Dubbo Powerhouse delivers gear with efficiency and cost-effectiveness to help in this space. Similarly, JLE has worked with New Macey for nearly three years, for mining and tunnelling applications around HV cables, while supplying various plugs, adaptors and connector equipment.
JLE works alongside other companies in the same field, though Josh mentions this is down to client requests; customers know exactly what they want and JLE is careful to provide this.
“Before we continue into a project, we want to understand what the client needs, so we can successfully deliver it,” he says. “The way we maintain that is through constant communication and assisting the client at every turn. From engineering to project roll-out and construction, we can assist on every level.
“We stick to what we’re good at. I’d like to emphasise that we don’t do everything, but what we do, we do well. We don’t commit to things that we’re not confident we can deliver, but the things that we commit to are well within our capability and that’s the core strength of the business.”
Proudly supported by: