Cole Workwear featured in the Australian’s “THE DEAL” magazine

Gordon Cole as Featured in the Australian's The Deal Magazines Article in May 2017


Gordon Cole admits he was “a bit of a rebel” as a young man. “I got kicked out of school at 15 and I had two young sons at the age of 19” says the Perth-based co-founder of Cole Workwear with. But he changed his views in his twenties when he decided to study at TAFE and get a regular job.
Cole worked as a program manager for the implementation of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement for the government of Western Australia and was the chair of the ATSIC Regional Council for Perth. He worked with the indigenous community in native title and social justice areas.

In 2009 he set up his own company, Cole Consulting which offered mentoring and coaching for indigenous people and advises on indigenous issues.
In 2012, a trip to America to attend a conference of the National Minority Supplier Development Council in Denver Colorado, inspired him to raise his sights about the potential for indigenous business in Australia.

“It opened my eyes to see what was happening in indigenous business in the US,” he says. “We had nothing like that in Western Australia.”

On the trip, Cole met Australian businessman Michael Cima, who had been involved with the establishment of the first indigenous workwear company Outback Global, a few years previously. He and Cole formed a good relationship and a year later Cima suggested they set up their own company specializing in workwear including uniforms and safety equipment.
Cima knew the workwear industry and could see the potential for expansion in the area of procurement for government and business. Cole already had strong links with mining companies government and not-for-profits in Western Australia, as well as connections with the states Noongar Community.

The duo set up Cole Workwear November 2013 and in June 2014 launched their own range of workwear products, The Boomerang Range which includes work shirts, cargo pants, boots, safety glasses and uniforms.It carries a distinctive logo made up of four boomerangs, representing Cole’s four children.

Clients now and include Shell, Worley Parsons, Veolia Environmental Services, Brookfield Johnson Controls and Mermaid Marine.
Cole was particularly pleased when his firm signed a five-year contract to supply safety boots to the Perth-based gas company Woodside. “It was very good for us, also Woodside to contract directly with a company like ours,” he says. “We are trying to get some other blue-chip companies”
Cole visited China last year to oversee the production of equipment for another key contract for the Defence Department. While Cima was experienced in importing goods into Australia, Cole wanted to see where his products are being made.

  “I wanted to visit the factory floor for myself to make sure that we were not supporting anything unethical." He says. “When I walked in they treated me like royalty. For them to see the owner walk in the door and talk to them was really great. It was really good for them to put a face to a name.”

He says the company is “quite competitive” on pricing but sources of products in Australia when is financially worthwhile.

Cole’s business and community involvement saw him become an inaugural chairman of the Noongar Chamber of Commerce and industry in Western Australia to help other Noongar businesses. He says his company also gives back to the indigenous community sponsoring several local sporting clubs including the Noongar Sports Association and the Noongar Football Club with his son plays.

“We are on a growth trajectory,” says Cole. “We have a real vision to be the best with the company in the world – not just Australia.” His long-term goal is for Cole Workwear to become a thriving family business. His daughter, who is studying at university, works in the business and some of his other children do occasional work at the company. “I would like to see my kids and grandchildren right in the business long after I'm gone,” he says.
Cole says indigenous people in Australia were always “in business” but was suppressed when Europeans came to Australia. He feels this is changing with the rise of government and corporate procurement programs: “We are reclaiming our commerce and trade ...Being in business is not foreign to us. We have always been in business and we will continue to do it. Indigenous business is growing. We are the sleeping giant that has awakened.”

CIPS WA. Building a better Western Australia.

Article by Jim Atkinson, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager at MMA Offshore Ltd

Would anyone disagree that we’ve got it good in Western Australia? Despite the high cost of living, compared to the rest of the world, we’re pretty fortunate here (economically, socially and culturally).
I’ve worked in supply chain roles for most of my working life, and 90% of that’s been paid for (in one way or another) by the stuff we dig up and pump out of the ground. We are a prosperous state, once riding on the sheep’s back, we’ve become dependent upon our mineral resources, and what a bounty those resources have delivered! That said, my personal view is that we could have made more of the opportunities we’ve had. It seems to me we’ve had some chances to lift up all parts of our community that we just didn’t capitalise on.

I’ve worked in supply chain roles for most of my working life, and 90% of that’s been paid for (in one way or another) by the stuff we dig up and pump out of the ground. We are a prosperous state, once riding on the sheep’s back, we’ve become dependent upon our mineral resources, and what a bounty those resources have delivered! That said, my personal view is that we could have made more of the opportunities we’ve had. It seems to me we’ve had some chances to lift up all parts of our community that we just didn’t capitalise on.
Out of the construction boom and into a period of operations and production focus, there are still solid prospects for us to address issues of economic and social equity in WA (and perhaps further afield too). You don’t have to be a bleeding heart, or even particularly observant, to see that there are economic and social disadvantages that some groups face in more depth than others.


western Australia Mining boom

In recent times, indigenous representation in a range of economic activities appears to be on the rise. Aboriginal entrepreneurship is evident, and seems to be gathering momentum. Certainly indigenous businesses are more visible in the marketplace than ever before. As procurement professionals, the challenge to us is whether we choose to champion such businesses through our day-today activities, or sit back and wait to see what others will do.

Even small steps now provide impetus for sustained business activity. Whether you are with a major resource company, a not-for-profit organisation, or anything in between, you are in a unique position to diversify your supplier mix. Your attention to cost, quality and time, need not be lost through engaging the local market, in fact, typically lower supplier overheads, high account service levels and true local presence, provide a compelling business case to change (and include).

There are a quite a few things that we can do to identify and support good indigenous business. I’d invite all of us to consider what we can do, and also to use our networks to enhance the prospects of those businesses. It may be that we are quite a way off finding economic parity across the whole of our community, but I don’t doubt that the procurement profession can make a big impact on how long it’s going to take.

Western Australia's Mining Boom -Boomerang Logo

If you’re interested in joining with like-minded procurement folks to advocate indigenous business activity in Western Australia, you’ll find collegiate support in the Local Contracting Alliance. While elaborate strategies and beautiful policy documents have their place, action-based groups, providing support in an informal manner, appear to at least generate positive short term outcomes – a boost to businesses which otherwise might wither and perish from over-fertilising and under-cultivation.

If you look at the growing success of organisations like Cole Workwear, Ashbac Distribution, and Kulbardi, we’re not talking lofty aspirations, but real outcomes supporting the most local content you can find. If we don’t get behind this in a big way though, we’re going to miss out on an amazing opportunity.

Press Release Jun 2015


Supply Nation Supplier Cole Workwear Pty Ltd, a Noongar owned and operated Workwear Company are proud to announce a supply partnership with Worksense Workwear and Safety, a Supply Nation Member and a division of Bunzl.

Press Release June 2015

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Cole Workwear Press Release June 2015

Cole Workwear June 2015

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Press Release – 06/06/2014

Boomerang Range™ Launched

Cole Workwear recently launched it's brand new workwear range; the Boomerang Range™ at the Supply Nation's annual Connect 2014 Trade Show held at Randwick Racecourse on the 27th May.   View full article...


Cole Workwear Press Release