The Member: Complete Office Supplies
Complete Office Supplies (COS) was first established in 1976 and today is still 100% Australian owned and operated. COS is proud of its home grown heritage, embracing its success with the joint support of its loyal Australian customers and suppliers. The organisation prides itself on being big enough to deliver, but small enough to respond quickly. As Australia’s largest independent office products supplier, COS is renowned for its product range, customised boutique style service and flexibility in their complete offering. Their ‘All-in-One’ supply solution is designed to leverage the benefits of consolidation and consistent supply with 15,000 products available. They are committed to always delivering what’s promised and to earn their customer’s recognition as ‘The Best Customer Experience for Office Products in Australia. COS is committed to always delivering what’s promised and to earning their customer’s recognition for ‘The Best Customer Experience for Workplace Supplies in Australia. For COS, a high level of importance is placed on having a committed approach to corporate social responsibility, including the behaviour of the total supply chain and its relationship with the community at large.
The Certified Supplier: Muru Group
Muru Group is an Indigenous owned company which provides office supplies, consumables and technology solutions. The business was certified by Supply Nation in 2012 and has been an advocate for supplier diversity ever since. The group was founded under the vision of Mitchell Ross to drive the inclusion of Indigenous business within the supply chain of corporate and government Australia. Muru Group is dedicated to creating a positive impact for Indigenous Australians. Muru means ‘path’ or ‘pathway’ and its vision is to create the pathway for a successful Indigenous business sector, capable of helping disadvantaged communities. The underlying vision behind Muru is to ensure the social and economic wellbeing of Indigenous Australia and create a positive legacy for future generations. Muru Group has created a range of products; the design of which reflects the strong connection that Indigenous people have with the land, which sustains and is sustained by its people and their rich culture.
The Opportunities and Outcomes:
Muru Group and Complete Office Supplies have partnered in two regards, the first was to develop a range of 100 per cent recycled copy paper and notebooks. Muru Group’s second venture with COS was to come together to form a Joint Venture partnership, Australia’s first truly national Indigenous Workplace Supplies provider, called Muru Office Supplies, which is 51 per cent owned by Muru Group and 49 per cent owed by COS. “It’s a big step and we’re pretty excited about it,” Mitchell explained. Daniel O’Halloran, Commercial General Manager, COS revealed it was Mitchell’s ‘strong, entrepreneurial approach,’ which resulted in them forging a business relationship with him. “He had told us about his work with the community and that really resonated with our own CSR initiatives. We knew straight away he was someone who could really make a go of it and was committed to putting funds back into the community,” he explained. Mitchell also used the opportunity to procure a fellow Supply Nation Certified Supplier in the form of Marcus Lee Design, who contributed to the product by creating the design. “The complete packaging is designed by Marcus. The artwork makes the product really jump out at you,” Mitchell said. 15 per cent of the profit Muru Group makes from the paper and notebooks is donated to community initiatives. “I’m doing some IT training up in Western Cape York, computer literacy training, with the hope of empowering the community to be able to use technology. I’ve also got a project in the works in my community, La Perouse,” Mitchell continued.
How Supply Nation was able to help:
The business relationship between Muru Group and COS had been in the works for some time, but was finalised following the participation of Muru Group CEO Mitchell Ross in Supply Nation’s delegation to the NMSDC Conference in Denver, Colarado in 2013. “It was when I went to NMSDC that I discovered a couple of business models over there that Muru group could use in partnership with COS,” Mitchell said. Obviously Supply Nation helped us there by allowing us to showcase. The initial engagement came about through Supply Nation. We had the original conversation as a result of Supply Nation. I think if it wasn’t for Supply Nation, I wouldn’t be in the business I’m in today.” Mitchell advises other Certified Suppliers to follow his lead and look for Joint Venture opportunities. “You don’t always have to try to do it yourself, be open to adapting and tweaking your business model. For Daniel, it was Mitchell’s realistic expectations of the venture, his quality product & commitment to community, that resulted in getting him over the line. He urges other Certified Suppliers to take note. ”It’s a Indigenous offering to top end clients. The turning point with Mitchell was his ability to quote on what the market wants and at the right cost point. I think the the important thing to understand and realise is that customers are wiling to pay a small premium to purchase goods from the Indigenous market where a genuine contribution is evident back to community, but it still has to be cost effective,” he concluded.