HAPPY WITH PROGRESS: Mechanical Equipment Services’ Jake Walker and Ben McKeown.
HAPPY WITH PROGRESS: Mechanical Equipment Services’ Jake Walker and Ben McKeown. Christopher Chan GLABUSI

Young tradies read up on business then get cracking

TWO young Gladstone tradies simply saw an opportunity and took it.

Ben McKeown and Jake Walker opened their business, Mechanical Equipment Services, at the start of last year.

"Everyone was going to the island but we thought we would aim higher," Mr Walker said.

The two 20-year-olds said they simply wanted to do their own thing.

"We thought, why work for someone else when we can work for ourselves?"

So they bought a pile of business books and went for it.

"It's been a lot of trial and error," Mr McKeown said. 

"But once you start, you can't stop," Mr Walker added.

After 12 months of long hours and working weekends, the boys finally feel like everything has fallen into place.

They are now servicing heavy machinery and maintaining equipment for about nine clients, simply through word of mouth.

"It keeps us busy," Mr Walker said. The pair also built a solar powered diesel trailer they hire out through their business.

"Environmental is the way to go," Mr McKeown said. "We think it's the first one in Gladstone."

New businesses move into Gladstone in droves

NEW businesses are flocking to Gladstone, but the city's Chamber of Commerce says the frenzy is putting locals out of business.

Almost 40 new traders set up shop in Gladstone every month during the last financial year.

In total, the region saw 451 new businesses registered for an Australian Business Number and Goods and Services Tax between July 2011 and June 2012.

With a population of 59,402, that's one business created for every 131 people.

It puts us just ahead of the state average - but Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rick Hansen said these figures were not sustainable.

"Everyone is well aware that the current economic situation in Gladstone is somewhat better than many cities in Australia," he said.

"We welcome new businesses to town as it adds to a healthy and competitive economic environment, however not when this business frenzy puts our local businesses out of business."

Mr Hansen wants to know how many of these new businesses are still operating.

"One statistic on its own doesn't tell us much more than there is lots of activity happening," he said.

"There are businesses struggling - not being able to keep staff and high rentals are just some of the issues Gladstone businesses face."

Mr Hansen also questioned the diversity of these new businesses and whether they were simply taking advantage of Gladstone's LNG boom.

Opening a new business?

Ideas2Market is a state-wide program designed to help those considering starting their own business

An introductory workshop is coming to Rockhampton next month and costs $110 per person.

For more information phone 3364 0614.