SPOTLIGHT: Geoff Yallop, Darren Wheeler and Patti’s Hire

Patti’s Hire has a long association with motorsport

Against the backdrop of the global pandemic, Patti’s Hire has worked to diversify its risk and accumulate market share.

The Sydney-based company was founded five decades ago and has been working through a period of change in recent years.

That started even before the onset of the pandemic, which has had a sizeable impact on the events industry.

Patti’s Hire operates across the east coast of Australia, from Adelaide to Cairns, with interests in motorsport and a raft of other segments.

In recent years it has acquired a number of other businesses, adding to its diverse portfolio in a strategy that leaves it well positioned moving forward.

That’s come courtesy of the leadership of Darren Wheeler five years ago.

“Patti’s was essentially a local backyard sort of hire company,” explained Geoff Yallop, national business development manager for Patti’s Hire.

“Darren came in and purchased a majority shareholding in Patti’s and started to restructure the business.”

That has included a number of acquisitions aimed at gaining market share and affording Patti’s the opportunity to provide more offerings to customers.

Wheeler had an interest in motorsport, which has seen the business expand its involvement in the industry too.

“Darren and Patti’s are heavily involved in Speedway racing. As well as being the CEO, his passion is in speedway,” explained Yallop.

“We race sprint cars, and we wing in an Outlaw driver from America by the name of Ian Madsen,” Wheeler added.

“So we run a full blown sprint car team, and have got the big transporter, and head up and down the coast and do as many races as we possible can.

“We also have a little development team as well with a younger driver that we’re developing, and they’ve come about purely out of just enjoying the sport – wanted an outlet from work and one thing led to another and now we’ve got a full blown sprintcar team.”

Building on that involvement with motorsport was the acquisition of Pages Event Hire, a company which had provided services to the likes of Supercars and Motorsport Australia.

The company also acquired a business in Bathurst, sparking the creation of the Patti’s motorsport division.

“The birth of what is really the Patti’s motorsport division occurred about three years ago and has continued to grow,” Yallop said.

“We see it as a major area of development in this business, and not just through motorsport but also through motor industry style events, promotional events, vehicle launches, all that sort of stuff.

“We’ve been really happy to be involved with Supercars, and that’s an expanding area of the market for us.

“We’ve just signed a three-year agreement with Porsche Racing to provide all their infrastructure for the Carrera Cup.

“We have a long-term relationship with Repco now to service their needs for Bathurst, and we’re just continuing in a very organic way to expand our footprint across motorsport.”

That includes servicing Motorsport Australia and the Australian Racing Group, that latter of which it is currently in discussions because, for Patti’s, motor racing both makes commercial sense but is something the business is passionate about.

As an events business, Patti’s has felt the impact of the pandemic but has worked to protect the business, its staff, and customers.

It has also resulted in some opportunities opening up because it has been active in seeking out opportunities to diversify.

“One of the advantages this business has had through COVID, and don’t think that we haven’t been affected because we have like every even related business, we’ve been heavily affected by disruptions, changes, and cancellations of events throughout the COVID period.

“But because this business is multifaceted, and we’ve been able to pivot into other areas, we’ve een been supplying substantial amounts of equipment for testing facilities through the healthcare industry,” Yallop noted.

“And also in other industrial areas, we’ve been working with the construction industry and other areas that were less affected throughout the COVID period.

“We made a conscious decision, as a management team in the business, to make sure that we have a varied business structure so that we’re not focusing on any particular segment of the market,” he added.

“Obviously there are areas where we’re investing heavily but we’re also mindful that you can’t really put all your eggs in one basket.

“What COVID’s taught us is that you need to be really mindful of where your revenue streams are, and to understand other areas where you can pivot to actually remain viable and sustainable within the market, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

While it’s hoped the worst of the pandemic is over, Patti’s Hire is conscious that there remain a number of uncertainties, citing the delayed Bathurst 12 Hour as a prime example.

“We can’t rely on anything really happening, we just need to rely on the basis that we are working across the market segments,” said Yallop.

“And we work because we have a very good transport fleet and a big logistics facility.

“Throughout the COVID period we actually moved out of a number of premises in our New South Wales operation into a single logistics centre, which is located in Regents Park, which is 24,000 square metres.

“But it’s been designed to allow us to service the market very successfully but having state of the art equipment in here and being able to load multiple vehicles and turn stuff around very quickly.”

Looking forward, as Patti’s Hire continues to grow and diversify across different sectors, Wheeler sees the need to continue to innovate to stay relevant within the market.

There’s also the opportunity to expand into international events with ARG.

“That’s very exciting to the market, and I think will bring additional corporate interest to the table in terms of people that are wanting to be involved,” Wheeler observed.

“A few years ago now, Pages did the Ferrari racing days in Sydney, which was another significant event.

“That was a new event then and it came as a result that of the cancellation of the motor show and post GFC, but it also focused brands on being able to go out and showcase what they have.

“I think that the opportunities through motorsport will provide brands with a way of actually showcasing what they have to a broader market.

“And because there’s a broader range of motor sport, and the ability to be able to provide interest across not just what has been predominantly a blue collar market, means that it will generate interest – especially through corporate hospitality and branding – through much more major corporate organisations who see it as being a way of actually entertaining people and selling their product.”

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