ELENA Gosse has successfully turned a three-person operation with an annual revenue of $100,000 into a multi-million dollar company.
The Russian-born CEO overcame a challenging industry and Australian Innovative Systems (AIS) now hits the $8 million mark in revenue.
AIS is a market leader in the design, production and supply of water hygiene technologies in a bid to protect against bacteria and disease.
The technology has attracted clients from all over the world, including hotels, theme parks, aquatic centres, municipal drinking water and agriculture and mining industries.
The company employs more than 60 people and has a renewed focus on manufacturing products and research.
Gosse says there’s still plenty of room for growth and will target Australian companies to adopt AIS technology.
How did AIS start up?
AIS was founded in 1974 and purchased by my husband and me as co-directors in 1992.
The business was 60 per cent manufacturing, 20 per cent repair to chlorinators and 20 per cent retail sales of chemicals.
Today, we have three Brisbane based production facilities with a fourth on the way.
By 2020 we expect to generate a $40 million+ annual turnover.
What do you find most challenging about your work and position at AIS?
These days, the most challenging aspect of water disinfection is convincing some levels of government and industry that manual chemical dosing is not the only way to disinfect water.
Our technology conveniently and automatically disinfects fresh, salt or even waste water onsite and within the water itself in a home or commercial environment.
This means that companies and home owners can bid farewell to the endless cycle of chlorine dosing, eliminate their dependence on chlorine suppliers and reduce the risks associated with the storing and handling of chemicals.
Another challenge is encouraging some companies to specify Australian products in tender documents when water disinfection solutions are required.
As a business community we should be supporting Australian manufacturers.
Often we find that businesses start searching for water disinfection solutions without looking at what is available in their own ‘backyard’.
What responsibilities do you think business owners have for the environment today?
As business owners, we are leaders. As leaders, we must set examples to protect our planet’s resources and continue to innovate in order to find new ways to do so.
In the case of AIS, our vision is to ensure that Earth’s fixed supply of water remains clear and healthy – despite increases in population and economic activity.
It may surprise some people but the amount of water on Earth has remained unchanged for millennia. There is as much of it now as when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
In the past 15 years however the World’s population has grown by over one billion people and global economic output has more than doubled.
Water is the most precious resource on our planet and as a leading water disinfection company we feel that we are charged with a great responsibility to protect it, now and into the future.
What has been AIS’ greatest achievement since its beginning?
After joining AIS, I immediately saw a seasonal dip in our national chlorinator sales due to the onset of the Australian winter.
I created an ambitious Global Expansion Plan which ensured the company enjoyed year round trading. We have exported our products to more than 55 countries.
From a people perspective staff retention and development is our biggest achievement. AIS is very proud of our 98 per cent staff retention rate.
We also have a strong multicultural workforce with staff members emanating from 14 different cultural backgrounds.
In some case entire families work with us and many of our staff have worked with us for 10 to 15 years.
Also, when faced with the financial crisis in 2007 and the inevitable impacts on our export markets, I was committed to retaining 100 per cent of my staff.
Constant communication meant that our employees understood the challenges we were facing and together we focused on our future.
I used the period to rebrand the company, develop new products, step up marketing efforts, attend more trade shows and overall increase the awareness of our products and brand in the marketplace.
Not only did AIS retain every staff member but AIS’ business is up 45% for the financial year 2013-14.
What would be your dream project or achievement for AIS?
I would love every aquatic centre, every swimming school, every school pool and every theme park in Australia to adopt our technology.
It is entirely possible as our systems can be fitted new or retrofitted.
There are already hundreds of progressive councils, schools and theme parks using AIS technology. In fact three of our systems have been specified for the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, which is the venue for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.