Introducing Jeremy Blanch, CEO of the JNC Group (JNC). JNC is made up of eight companies: LINKeD, mondag, Par di mi, Forge, Fencing Systems Australia, Sports Build and Exhibition Centre. JNC is a Supply Nation Certified Company and is majority indigenous owned. Last year JNC were awarded the Armidale Business Award for Excellence in Business and Best Overall Business, and the NSW Business Chamber New England North West Award for Excellence in Business, going on to represent Armidale at state level.
Hi Jeremy; can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised here in Armidale and when I finished high school, I worked for the family construction business for 10 or 11 years. I’m married with five children. I started courting my wife, Nik, when she was 17, although it took me a couple of years to persuade her. We’ve been married for 10 years and a couple for 20.
I spent a fair bit of time of my early career working away from Armidale and came back to Armidale as a full-time base when I started JNC.
What inspired you to start JNC?
The birth of my first child, Charlie, was the catalyst for my wife, Nicole, and I to start JNC in June 2007. I’m a second-generation earthmover and started out in the family civil business, Bricon, in the late ‘90s, but left because I wanted to spend more time with my family.
I understand there is a story behind the name?
Originally JNC stood for Jeremy, Nik and Charlie – but with five children now in the mix, Jeremy, Nik and Children is probably the more appropriate explanation.
You run a very large, widespread suite of businesses. How do you balance work with your family life?
By choosing to be headquartered in Armidale, we can live in an excellent place to raise a family, while I am still well connected to the cities. I am very fortunate to have an amazing wife. Nik really is the balancing act, taking the lead with the kids throughout the work day. I make sure that I’m there for dinner every evening, where we discuss our day, and on the weekends, we enjoy our family sporting events together.
What does JNC do?
JNC provides Federal Government, State Government Authorities, Local Government, corporate businesses and major developers with a safe and efficient alternative source of contracting and project management resources.
JNC is a national organisation, headquartered in Armidale. In practice, how does it work?
Our network connects Australia-wide; we have satellite offices in Canberra and Brisbane. I do have to spend time travelling, but essentially can get good visibility of what’s happening through technology-enabled networks. Technology is a big part of connecting, and I attend a lot of Skype sessions and Go To Meetings. Having the right team in place and being able to have the confidence with the teams on the ground is essential.
With your focus on empowering diversity, what results have you achieved?
We really value our diverse workforce. We currently have 35 full-time employees in our construction business and 60+ across the group. Approximately 20% of our staff identify as Aboriginal and 33% of our staff are women.
Why is a focus on culture and empowering diversity important?
If I’m going to be on this planet, I want to leave some good legacies for my family to follow on with and to make a small difference to the community in which I live and work. Our strength is our people, and this fits in with the goals of our workers. We are not just another place to work. We do have these different sets of goals; we are not all about the money. We are certainly there for profit, but what we give back is important to us.
JNC allocates 10% of its profits to community projects. What does that look like?
We are focused on indigenous outcomes and predominantly focus on education. Locally we have some great projects with the Minimbah Aboriginal School. We actively support projects focused on good healthy living and sport. We also support other local initiatives wherever we work; for example, we support BackTrack in Armidale.
How does a focus on social goals marry with having a very successful corporate business? We are not a social enterprise, we are very commercial in many respects, but we are conscious of our social goals in our day to day business. We are a better business and a better corporate business with a diversified workforce. Different ideas and different backgrounds really do make for a more innovative workplace.
What would you advise a business just starting out?
It’s not an easy road in the first 12 to 18 months. However, with hard work and perseverance, the rewards will come.
What are the biggest challenges that lie ahead?
We have had to streamline and implement some robust systems to support our rapid growth. That has been particularly challenging and rewarding. Finding the right people on the ground to look after the JNC baby is something I continue to take particular care in, as the business continues to grow quickly.