Muswellbrook’s game changer

Setting up Blackrock Industries at the age of 25 just over two years ago with a single $1,000 contract at Mt Pleasant, one truck and two workers, Steve Fordham - former St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen student -  is today running a multi-million-dollar company.

The company offers a range of services including earth works, stemming, rehabilitation development and industrial cleaning. Its sister companies, Blackrock Environmental, Supply Solutions and OzCrew, also offer rubbish removal, tree planting and mowing services.

With 70 percent of his employees being indigenous Australians and 30 per cent consisting of women and inmates from the local jail, Steve’s business is also helping to close the gap for minorities in the workforce.

Based in Muswellbrook, which has the highest Aboriginal population in the Hunter Valley, Steve is aiming to give the majority of Indigenous Australians in the area a place of employment.

As a Kamilaroi man and a member of the Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council Board, Steve wants to see Muswellbrook have the lowest Aboriginal unemployment rate in the state.

Steve also wants to break society’s stereotypical gender roles and give women the chance to jump behind machinery and see men take a turn at getting the cleaning done.

Working with inmates from St Heliers Correctional Centre, Steve hopes giving them an opportunity for employment and the ability build their skill set will help them with their rehabilitation.

A former student of St James’ Primary School, Muswellbrook and St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, Steve may not have a business degree - but his focus, passion and goal-orientated drive have helped him get to where he is today.

His first venture into the business world saw Steve breeding and selling pets to a pet shop. This was followed by a lawn-mowing business which grew to five employees within just 12 months.

After he finished his boilermaker apprenticeship, Steve worked at Bengalla mine driving haul trucks.

Recently named as a finalist in the young entrepreneur category of the NSW Mining awards, Steve isn’t just about making money. Instead he aims to give his staff and clients the best opportunities possible and to help each and every one of them succeed.

Steve is also an advocate for keeping things local, with 90 per cent of company spending staying within the local community and 50 of his employees being locally based.

“I am very proud of Steve, he is certainly inspirational,” said Steve’s former Principal, Mr John Tobin.

“There is so much I could write about him. As a 26-year-old he is someone who could be anything or anyone he wants to be. You could write a book on him!”