Aldridge Railway Signals named Indigenous Exporter of the Year

Supply Nation’s Supplier Diversity Awards was held in Sydney on Tuesday, 8 August, 2023.

The Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-run business manufactures signals and provides infrastructure to clients throughout Asia. It was just one of the success stories recognised in the annual awards celebrating a prosperous, vibrant and sustainable Indigenous business sector.

Managing Director David Aldridge accepted the award, sponsored by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). The 1,200-strong audience at the Connect 2023 Gala Awards Dinner comprised First Nations business owners and corporate and government representatives.

Aldridge says the award is a great recognition of his company’s growing export success.

‘We’ve had a cracker of a year. Last year export markets made up 43% of our turnover and we’re still growing.

‘We’ve been in Indonesia for 15 years but all of a sudden the top’s blown off. We’re also doing projects in Malaysia and just completed the first stage of a project in Taiwan,’ he says.

Tap into government resources to start exporting

Aldridge encourages other Indigenous businesses to get out and use their networks and tap into government resources to explore exporting pathways.

‘You can’t export from behind a computer. You’ve got to get out, get up and running and see people and prospective clients. You also need Austrade,’ he explains.

‘We’ve been supported along the way by Austrade. There are a lot of people out there who help Indigenous exporters and they are just there for the asking. You’ve got Supply Nation, Austrade, Export Nation. There are other Indigenous exporters that are always happy to help too.’

Austrade and the NSW Government through the TradeStart initiative have helped Aldridge Railway Signals to develop export markets, including Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The New South Wales-based company has also used Austrade’s Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program to successfully market and promote products and services to customers throughout Asia.

Austrade Trade and Investment Commissioner to Malaysia and Brunei (and proud Aboriginal woman) Melanie Harris says Austrade has been a longtime supporter of the non-profit Supply Nation. It is one of the many organisations the agency partners with to champion First Nations exporters.

‘Austrade is committed to assisting First Nations businesses to find international markets, grow exports and successfully go global. This involves promoting the success of First Nations exporters through initiatives like Supply Nation’s Supplier Diversity Awards,’ she says.

Supply Nation CEO Michelle Deshong adds: ‘The Supplier Diversity Awards provide an occasion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, as well as member organisations, to be recognised for their achievements and to celebrate their success alongside their team, business partners, family, peers and community.’

The shortlisted contenders in the 2023 Exporter of the Year category were:

  • Jala Jala Treats, whose chocolate features Native Australian ingredients
  • Young Guns Container Crew, a shipping and logistics business servicing Australia, New Zealand and Canada, whose strong employment pathway supports professional development for Indigenous young people.

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