Oreon Client Story: Yates Electrical Services

Yates Electrical Services (YES) founder Mark Yates started out in 2004 as an independent electrical contractor. Now specialising in the renewable energy sector, the company won its biggest contract earlier this year – worth $36m! It’s been quite a journey.

After starting out in the construction of renewable energy projects, YES then moved into residential and commercial solar rooftop installations and was able to expand quickly, hiring more staff and supplying labour and expertise to many large renewable energy projects across Australia.

YES then began developing and constructing their own renewable projects – namely, solar farms – for regional landholders across the Riverland, of which they’ve now completed over 80. In 2020, the YES Energy arm was created, allowing them to generate and supply energy to the wholesale electricity market and end users of electricity.

They recently partnered with SEI (Sustainable Energy Infrastructure) to develop a 4.2MW solar farm in Renmark and 2MW solar farm in Bowmans, and they have several other projects in the pipeline to provide a total of 20MW to the energy grid in regional South Australia.

YES Group was awarded the 5th fastest growing business and the ‘Excellence in Business Award’ in the South Australia Fast Movers list of 2019 Top 25 businesses. The company achieved 100% growth for three consecutive years from 2017.

Challenges During The Business Journey And Through COVID

Sustaining their rapid growth has been a challenge for YES, as well as keeping agile in the unique and evolving electricity market. They’ve also worked hard on transitioning business structures as they’ve grown (whilst maintaining the core business and its relationships) and on demonstrating the financial benefits of renewable energy to key investors.

During COVID, the company’s biggest challenge has been dealing with the logistics of cross-border travel to work on interstate projects, since they now operate in most states of Australia.

Keys To Success

When asked about advice for other business owners, Mark says, “Make sure you put the right team, structures, processes and reporting in place early on and don’t be afraid to let go of some things as you grow. If you try and do everything yourself in an expanding business, you’ll only constrain your own growth. Look after and believe in the people on your team and grow together.”

He adds that other important recommendations for success include:

  • Imagination – Dream big, think laterally and everything is achievable
  • Teamwork – Surround yourself with like-minded people who have similar motivations and values, but who aren’t afraid to present a different point of view
  • Good advice – A good mentor with experience will help guide you to make the right BIG decisions
  • Drive it – Like you stole it!
  • Adaptability – Adapt and embrace change as it presents itself

Oreon Partners’ Role In The Business Journey

Mark – who is actually the son of Oreon’s longstanding client Bronte Yates of Yates Menswear in Renmark – has been an Oreon client since 2012. Mark had known and worked with Chris Gebhardt before Chris joined the Oreon Partners team.

Oreon has assisted the company in numerous ways over the years, including providing support and technical advice during significant construction and investment deals with both national and international investors; offering business restructuring advice as the company expanded; and coaching internal staff with ongoing finance operations.

“Mark has a very transparent approach and proactive attitude, which allows us to ‘tap in’ to the company’s current affairs with ease,” says Chris. “This has allowed Oreon to tackle and solve complex problems in a timely manner.”

“We believe being proactive with your advisors promotes effective and timely decision making, potentially leading to strong business growth,” Chris adds. “With this approach, combined with Mark’s already strong business acumen, it’s been no surprise to us that he’s been able to deliver the successful outcomes he has.”

Mark says, “Chris has the ability to communicate and present complex issues in simple, meaningful ways. As stubborn as I am, he opened my eyes to the importance of having the correct corporate and financial structures in place. If only I had listened earlier!”

Future Of The Business

YES Group will continue to explore new technologies and markets. Mark wants the business to continue its steady growth and says he hopes to employ a total of 100 staff within the next three years.

“We have the systems in place to scale up, so now is the time to start using them,” he says.

With Mark’s energy – in every sense – the future certainly looks bright!  Read more about YES.

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