Client Story: Controlled Innovation

Client Story: Controlled Innovation

Founded by Jack Fletcher in 2012, Controlled Innovation is a specialist mechanical services electrical contractor with a strong focus on design and installation of air conditioning and ventilation systems.

In addition to residential projects, the Hallett Cove-based team of 10 works regularly on commercial projects for schools, hospitals, healthcare facilities, airports, and other industries in their work with some of South Australia’s premier mechanical contracting companies.

When he’s not busy with his primary business, Jack volunteers on community projects, including helping run the Gravity Enduro mountain bike club and EagleFest, South Australia’s biggest mountain bike festival. He also spends time working on his side business, Fletcher Media, as a professional photographer. For this endeavour, he works primarily in sport with a focus on mountain biking and surfing activities all around the world.

Challenges and keys to success

“Managing cashflow and finding good employees who will stick with you are the hardest things about being in business,” says Jack. “I’ve been very lucky to find the staff I have; if I didn’t have them, the business wouldn’t exist as it is. You’re only as good as the people you have around you.”

He emphasises that enabling and encouraging staff to make decisions and help guide the direction of the business has been vital to his company’s success.

“As the owner and director, I work for my staff,” he adds. “I’m here to give them the tools and systems they need to be able to do their jobs.”

He urges other entrepreneurs to hire before they need someone.

“Invest in your staff and give pay rises before you’re asked,” he says. There will be staff members who are invaluable, so do everything you can to keep them happy.”

His other tip for new business owners is to start by investing in good systems and software for future growth.

“Changing systems when you’re in the middle of a project is a nightmare,” he explains. “A little bit of planning when starting out can save you massive headaches down the line.”

Oreon Partners’ role in the journey

Jack and Senior Manager John O’Brien initially met as both help manage two of the biggest mountain bike clubs in South Australia, which then led them to jointly running the largest SA mountain bike festival earlier this year, which attracted hundreds of the best riders from around Australia into Adelaide for a week. At the time, Jack had some frustrations with his existing accountant and decided to make the switch to Oreon in 2023.

“Through general chats, it became clear that Jack had a host of accounting topics that had to be ticked off in the very near future, and we set about figuring how to make that all happen in a relatively short timeframe,” says John.

Although the partnership is quite new, the past six months have been very busy, as Oreon has helped Jack restructure the business from a discretionary trust to a company in order to allow for more investors, assisted with Xero rollovers and various app trials, explored SMSF options, worked on tax planning to claim back overpaid tax instalments, drafted 2023 financials and prepared employee offer letters inviting them to invest in the business, among other projects.

John says, “From day one, Jack said that his most important aim was to provide a fair method for some of his staff to invest in the business. It’s not often that you come across an owner who has spent so much time building a business to give large chunks of it away at discounted rates, but at Jack’s request, we modelled the valuation of the business on a fair value to show the worth, which Jack then discounted as he wanted members of his team to have a great opportunity to become part owners with minimal risk.”

John explains that restructuring the business has started to provide some clarity to the overall group.

“Plus,” he says, “the business is now set up within an entity that both allows Jack to bring in new shareholders easily whilst retaining earnings to put back into growing the business.”

Jack says, “Oreon has offered advice around separating different business entities and long-term planning. We’ve only just joined them, but they have already helped immensely with restructuring, tax planning and re-working previous tax returns to help with cashflow.”

Jack adds that for him, the best thing about Oreon Partners is their responsiveness and accessibility.

“John is always available for a quick chat,” says Jack. “Not everything needs a meeting, so being able to quickly text about a silly idea or confirm a decision is invaluable in making fast decisions.”

Future of the business

Jack says that the focus for the company right now remains working through the process to allow three employees to buy into the business.

“Other than that, we’re just continuing to work on streamlining processes,” he notes.

To learn more, visit the Controlled Innovation website.