The Australian cleaning supplies industry has a new player in the game. Kim Kamarudin reports.
Wirrpanda Supplies was created in late 2017 to manufacture and deliver cleaning supplies around the country as well as close a loop between education and the employment of indigenous youth.
The WA-based company is the brainchild of former West Coast Eagles AFL player, David Wirrpanda.
Since retiring from AFL, David Wirrpanda has worked closely with Indigenous young people and in 2005 he founded and became the director of the Wirrpanda Foundation (WF). One of the principal roles of the WF is to assist young people in the WA Children’s Court system by providing opportunities to learn new skills or a trade.
Wirrpanda Supplies is a joint-venture company between David Wirrpanda, as the major shareholder, and Chemform, a 40-year-old family owned Australian company that delivers cleaning products and services across the country in numerous sectors.
WF is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that offers a range of training and employment programs like Bidi Waalitj. This is a new collaborative program between WF, West Coast Eagles and the WA Department of Jobs and Small Business.
“The cleaning supplies market is something that interests me and creating a joint venture with Chemform, a private company with demonstrated runs on the board, provides me with an opportunity to add value.
“I pitched my idea as something that would be an extension to Chemform and it’s something I’m passionate and enthusiastic about. I wanted to bring not only my brand and what we do to the table but also to utilise the programs and aims of the WF. Effectively the WF is the pendulum for Wirrpanda Supplies and Chemform to employ indigenous people.
“Wirrpanda Supplies will be able to approach corporates with a complete package incorporating the supply of quality cleaning products and services around Australia and the fact we are actively seeking to employ Indigenous people.
“The final part of the loop is that for every contract secured and every product purchased, three per cent of the sales profit goes back to the WP’s employment programs. This means the WP won’t be heavily dependent on Federal and State Government funding in the future.”
Wirrpanda Supplies distributes a range of cleaning chemical products, systems training and education. The cleaning supplies system includes colour coding, generic names and numbering and Indigenous artwork on all the branding labels to make them unique, easy to identify and easy to use.
Manufactured on site in Western Australia, the Wirra Green products are quality assured, environmentally friendly, easy to use and safe to use. The company also provides client training and safety information, industry standard audit reporting, technical support and equipment installation and maintenance.
This joint venture is a unique relationship across the board and word of mouth is getting out there, explained Wirrpanda.
“For me it’s a great opportunity to have a foot in both camps, not-for-profit and a company. Wirrpanda Supplies is a fair dinkum company and we aim to be the benchmark in this industry when it comes to supplying cleaning chemicals that are safe for the environment and providing employment.
“This is the exciting part of what we deliver, which is the bigger picture of securing contracts not simply based on being an Indigenous chemical supply company but because we can deliver a top-level product and service. That’s the way the model will work and why we are so excited about the potential of Wirrpanda Supplies.”
Wirrpanda envisions more than 50 staff working within the company to fulfil its mission.
“Right now, it’s all about creating the building blocks and starting to implement a strong business plan. If you asked me 12 years ago where I thought the foundation would be, nobody would have believed me. Today it has 53 fulltime staff and a national footprint. Back then I set out to change attitudes and mindsets in the community and now we are stepping into the corporate space to do that again.”
This first appeared in the May/June issue of INCLEAN magazine. To subscribe, click here.