Connecting regional Western Australia and beyond

The story of HMC Group (HMC) won’t be found in news articles, on YouTube, in Instagram posts or on websites. This isn’t because their operations serve and connect some of the most isolated parts of Australia. It’s because HMC is the holding company, a quiet achiever sitting behind a family of brands that connect people, businesses and communities, and fuel the aviation and tourism sector in regional Western Australia.

When planning for their next phase of growth, HMC sought an external equity investor because they didn’t want to constrain their growth plans.

That’s when they discussed options with their banking partner at CBA who referred them to the Australian Business Growth Fund and are now a recipient of a $15m minority investment.

The journey to growth

Operating in the most remote parts of Australia takes imagination, persistence and a deep understanding of local communities. It’s therefore remarkable when a local business grows from two people to over 260 staff in just eight years to become one of the largest private employers in the Kimberley region and one of the largest general aviation businesses in Australia.

Regional Western Australia is well known for its natural beauty and world-class tourism destinations – places such as Broome, the Bungle Bungles and the Mitchell Falls.  It’s also renowned for its wealth of mineral deposits such as gold, iron and nickel to name just a few.

What isn’t so obvious are the small communities scattered across this vast area – many with a population less than 500 – that are the lifeblood of the region and keep its culture alive. There are more than 200 remote indigenous communities and 37 town-based communities throughout Western Australia. So, how do tourists, businesses and communities commute, connect and trade?

Co-founder of HMC Group, Michael McConachy says it was a “sliding doors” moment when HMC was first established in 2014. As an experienced commercial pilot with extensive entrepreneurial experience across agribusiness, construction, aviation and tourism, he and his co-founder, Geoff Hamilton, saw the opportunity to combine three of their passions – the love of aviation, destination tourism and the economic prosperity of the region.

Having completed the development of their first luxury, short-stay apartments, Freshwater Kimberley Apartments, the next of many businesses to be built was HeliSpirit, now Kimberley’s largest scenic helicopter flight operator, also providing specialised charter, airwork and emergency support services. Later, they acquired and expanded an aviation business, Aviair. This is a leading fixed-wing general aviation business that services regional Western Australia and special mission operations in South Australia, providing corporate charter, scheduled air services and some of Australia’s most spectacular scenic flights. Through these services, HMC facilitates essential transport services for employees who live in small communities to projects and workplaces, enabling local employment; while also providing tourism experiences and visitor mobility throughout the region.

Over the next few years, HMC added accommodation and unique tourist experiences – Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge, Bungle Bungle Guided Tours and Kimberley Experiences; a helicopter training service, the Australian Helicopter Academy; and a historic hospitality venue on the banks of the Ord River in Kununurra, the PumpHouse Restaurant.

Investing in future growth

When Michael first discussed HMC’s growth plans with CommBank, the team quickly recognised the opportunities that growth capital could provide to enable the business to scale and thrive. Meeting the investment mandate as an established and ambitious Australian business with $2-100 million in revenue and a strong growth trajectory, the team referred HMC to ABGF.

When selecting an investor, Michael was very clear on what was important for the business’s future. “When considering new investors into the business, it was important that their values aligned with ours.

“We didn’t want an investor that would turn us into a large corporate or institutionalise us. We wanted an investor that supported the current culture and team, while enabling us to continue to grow. The Australian Business Growth Fund will challenge us on our ideas and provide invaluable corporate experience to assist our businesses to grow.”

Now, with the backing of the Australian Business Growth Fund, HMC can support the growing demand for its high-quality aviation and tourism services and enable it to further build its regionally based operations across Western Australia and beyond. This will enable an expanded aviation fleet and network infrastructure. For Michael and Geoff, this means getting closer to their dreams of connecting regional communities and the state as a whole.

Can ABGF assist your business?

At the Australian Business Growth Fund™, we provide long-term growth capital to enable SMEs to scale without giving up control of their business. Start the conversation with us today.