Gary enters the Dragon
IF IT is sunglasses for an army or water bottles for a local school that you want, Gary Livermore is the
man to see.
The chief executive of Source Co has built a business from a decade long association with China’s
production base – and his business is about to get bigger. The Ernest-based Source Co is a conduit for
Australian businesses seeking high-grade products from Chinese manufacturers. Among the company’s
biggest clients is the Australian Defence Force, to which it supplies sunglasses and bath towels under
strict tender guidelines. According to Mr Livermore, who started his business career on the Gold Coast in
1979 as an electrical contractor, the Source Co business is being restructured for significant growth, with
a possible secondary market listing in Hong Kong at the end of next year, or by 2013. This year, Source
Co turned over $7 million and plans a $15 million turnover next year. It is headturning growth for the
company, which is in the throes of a $2 million capital raising through the Australian
Small Scale Offerings Board to broaden its product range and secure product compliance. Mr Livermore
said it had taken some time to get Source Co to this point. Back 20 years ago, he was the lighting
supplier to the first Indy Car race held on the Gold Coast. ‘‘It was all of 40 lights and 40 power points,’’
Mr Livermore said.
In 1992, he sold the electrical contracting business to Siemens and took a job as the electronics giant’s
Queensland and Northern Territory manager. Two years later, he bought the business back and
established Rent Elec, which continued its work with the Indy race until 2006. It wasn’t until Mr
Livermore secured consultancy work for prescription drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline that he
explored the emerging opportunities in China. It was a time, he remembers, when the Chinese growth
story was more talk than walk. ‘‘The changes in China over the past 10 to 15 years have been
enormous,’’ he said. Source Co has established a Shanghai-based subsidiary, which deals directly with
manufacturers and suppliers from China. It is what gives Source Co an edge over competitors. Mr
Livermore began working with the Chinese by importing electrical switchgear and wholesaling it to
Australian retailers and contractors.
That part of the business continues to tick along, but Mr Livermore said the big opportunities would
come later from the booming solar industry. Source Co has set up supply agreements with solar
products manufacturers in China through the Sino Solar Exchange, an online trading platform for solar
products that offers independent analysis to assist in quality control. Mr Livermore conceded the solar
industry was fraught with quality issues at present that was ‘‘holding us back’’, but the cost-benefit
analysis was improving for the industry.
‘‘Solar is a big part of our growth plans, but where we want to make it a bigger part is not so much in
Australia.’’ Mr Livermore said Source Co’s immediate expansion plans would target the UK and Turkey,
which are experiencing a strong take-up of solar technology. ‘‘We’d like to see continued growth,
geographically and product wise as well.’’
Mr Livermore is also looking at sourcing business opportunities in reverse, by becoming a conduit for
Australian companies looking to enter lucrative Asian and European markets. ‘‘What we want to do is
set up a network of agents in different countries,’’ Mr Livermore said.
‘‘As we complete transactions, in whatever product there is, we can start specialising and marketing
those products in our own right.’’