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Argon & Co turbocharge Procurement

Caliba Group joined Argon & Co in November 2023. Image: Argon & Co.

MHD spoke to Argon & Co’s Christopher Gardner and Caliba Group’s Daniel Williams about the companies’ partnership, and what they’re doing to enhance their procurement service offering for their clients across the APAC region.

With Argon & Co and procurement consultancy Caliba Group joining forces in late 2023, the global management company specialising in operations strategy and transformation is now able to provide its clients with a further enhanced Procurement service offering. 

Caliba Group has a deep knowledge across a variety of industries including healthcare, heavy industry, transport and logistics, and food and beverage. 

Its team of 25 practitioners and professionals with specialist knowledge and skills is helping to bolster Argon & Co’s existing procurement offering as well as enhancing its industry scope within the APAC region. These employees located in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Japan and France have backgrounds in data analytics, procurement, project management, and more.

PARTNERING TO ENHANCE PROCUREMENT SERVICE OFFERINGS

By having great insight into its three main pillars of healthcare, heavy industry, and transport and logistics, Caliba Group is able to undertake mammoth developments such as the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games. The Brisbane-based business is dealing with the largest infrastructure projects Australia has seen in the last 20-odd years. 

“Most of the work we do is around strategic sourcing, cost reduction, and risk assessments and capability building within organisations,” says Daniel Williams, Partner at Caliba Group. “We’re a pure play procurement organisation.” 

While Argon & Co has mainly been supply-chain focused, it will now strengthen its procurement offering as it integrates the Caliba team into its own throughout 2024. 

“Risk and resilience are what we’re building on,” explains Chris Gardner, Managing Principal – Procurement at Argon & Co. 

Chris Gardner, Managing Principal – Procurement, Argon & Co. Image: Argon & Co.
Chris Gardner, Managing Principal – Procurement, Argon & Co. Image: Argon & Co.

“The Caliba team will support the acceleration as we move into a strong position with our sustainability offering and procurement.”

Daniel adds that Caliba Group can deliver a larger suite of services to and solve problems for its clients because it’s now part of Argon & Co. 

“We’re not just looking at our clients’ internal operational changes or working with some of their suppliers and operational changes, we can focus on full procurement cost reductions,” notes Daniel. “We do the full lifecycle of working with internal and external suppliers.” 

Argon & Co has always prided itself on end-to-end value chain. It’s working collaboratively with Caliba Group across several similar industries and with similar clients. “Our clients will get real value from an end-to-end perspective.” 

COVERING THE APAC REGION

The two consultancies both have clients in the healthcare and FMCG industries with their teams integrating horizontally and working closely together to service them. 

While Caliba hasn’t entered the New Zealand market yet, it’s focused on the APAC region where it has operations in Singapore, Philippines and Australia, which it’s trying to expand and support.

“This works well because Argon & Co also has offices in Singapore and Hong Kong,” notes Daniel. “It’s also great because we can base our staff there instead of making them do fly-ins and fly-outs. All of this will benefit our clients in Asia. We can use Argon & Co’s presence in New Zealand as a launchpad for our own operations.” 

At its Auckland office, Argon & Co has used some of its procurement capabilities there where Chris Ford is now Partner. “By working closely with Caliba, we now have the necessary horsepower to support growth in that region,” adds Chris. 

“We can also do this in our other major hubs around Western Australia and Melbourne as we continue to grow as a business, particularly in APAC, with the formation of our new Hong Kong office and our existing Singapore office.

“From a global perspective, we have a centre of excellence and a real depth of subject matter expertise within this region. We’re now the biggest dedicated procurement organisation not only in the APAC region but worldwide.” 

Caliba Group is one of the largest independent procurement organisations in Australia and regularly wins tenders against its competitors. 

CUTTING COSTS AND INCREASING SAVINGS

In the procurement space over the past 18 months, Caliba has been helping suppliers cut their costs and save money. Sometimes the team’s running tenders and managing supplier negotiations or telling their clients to choose one product instead of multiple. 

“Some organisations are siloed,” says Daniel. “We analyse all of their spending and can outsource some of their work. We also help the two-tier suppliers. They might have a large factory or heavy industry base, and they’re working with several suppliers. 

“And we’ve just done it again, with a big packaging supplier and also logistics – we helped a tier two who didn’t have the buying power. We introduced them to some of the contracts, and they were able to share the savings around. We have to keep going the extra mile as more and more savings are needed.”

Daniel Williams, Partner, Caliba Group. Image: Argon & Co.
Daniel Williams, Partner, Caliba Group. Image: Argon & Co.

Argon & Co has done a lot of de-risking work since 2020. Chris says risk doesn’t necessarily appear on the bottom line in the same way that savings does in the first instance. He adds: “coupling, cost reduction, value creation are key messages for our clients, particularly during unsettling times.” 

As procurement professionals, Caliba Group can build contracts that are flexible for both parties. “In this cost-pressure environment, suppliers want security,” explains Daniel. “That’s where you need to engage with people properly.” 

INTEGRATING FOR TEAM SUCCESS

Over the next 24 months onwards, Argon & Co will roll out its sustainability offerings with Caliba Group. “We have a strong ESG service offering globally,” notes Christopher. “We’re going to cement this in the APAC region.” 

Collaborative integration will happen over the next 12 months between Argon & Co and Caliba Group. “Colleagues familiarising themselves with one another will be important. Building capabilities and working with key clients over the next six months. Bringing in that identity and culture to enhance our business and ensure we excel.” 

“We have some amazing data analysts who can quickly crunch numbers and benchmark,” says Daniel. “We have some great analytical tools that we’re bringing to Argon. Our practitioners know procurement and project management well.”

“I think the business that exists here in Brisbane is complementary to the existing culture within Argon, which is rare to find,” explains Chris. 

“And I think that’s the factor Daniel’s pointed out about this sort of horizontal integration. They’re very client focused. It’s exciting that we’re taking on 25 exceptional individuals into the business. And that’s not only going to benefit our clients but make coming into work a lot more fun. 

“The next few months will be a lot of learning, collaborating, sharing of information – we don’t want to be siloed. Argon has about 10 staff already in Brisbane, so they’ll be joining us in our office. Working with clients and identifying what the opportunities are. Pursuing the new industries that Caliba can bring, especially in the healthcare, education and heavy industry spaces. Brisbane 2032 will be an enormous pillar within the organisation. We have to plan and scope it correctly.”

For more information on Argon & Co, click here

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