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From the brush to branch management

Alex Shulman |   Apr 13, 2022 1:02:01 PM

When Brendan Childs joined Higgins in 2016, he had just finished working in mining construction in Pilbara and was admittedly looking for another hands-on operations role. His initial foray into Higgins life involved working as a painting contractor.


Higgins Perth Branch Manager Brendan Childs hosting a customer event. 

Though he possessed a natural knack for leadership, this remained a latent part of his life at work until an opportunity in management presented itself several years ago. Fast forward to 2022, and Brendan is managing the Perth arm of Higgins Coatings. Find out what drove Brendan’s progression, and how his operations background assists him in his current role.


Can you tell us a little bit about your first role and where you progressed from there?

I started at Higgins as a painter, which was a big change from working in the mining industry. After working in this role for some time, management challenged me to take on a new ‘Project and Sales Coordinator’ position, which involved the delivery of national multi-site projects locally here in Perth.

The sales component was at an entry-level allowing me to develop my understanding while gaining new experience in a world I wasn’t familiar with. I was successfully able to apply my skills and experience in operations to support the Sales team in developing new customers and providing outside the box solutions to sales problems.

What were the key differences between those roles?

There were some drastic differences between the roles, with it initially feeling like a complete change to my universe. My computer literacy was non-existent, and beyond that, there were some other major skills I had to develop quickly, including:

  • Cost control and monitoring on projects
  • Prioritisation of tasks
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Managing employees and contractors
  • Estimating and quantity surveying
  • Sales and marketing strategy

Did you always envision working in Sales?

I found myself becoming comfortable with project management very early on. Having been successful in a hybrid sales/operations role, I decided I wanted to challenge myself further and develop some skills I never knew I had by taking on a Business Development Manager role.

It was a natural move that the Higgins family supported me with. I considered myself lucky as I didn’t have to leave my industry, or develop a new knowledge base on something entirely foreign to me.

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Blue Tree Project CEO and Founder Kendall Whyte with Higgins Perth Branch Manager Brendan Childs, launching our partnership in 2020

Did you anticipate taking over as the Perth Branch Manager?

Certainly not, as I was developing a wide range of skills – management was the last thing on my mind. Managing people within their various capacities such as estimating, business development, project and operational management is a completely new challenge and quite a full-time role unto itself. As challenging as it is to build, manage and develop a team of my own, it has allowed me to foster new skills that I may not have learned otherwise.

It has also provided an opportunity to assist community groups such as the Blue Tree Project. The work we’ve done with the Blue Tree Project has been gratifying on a personal level, and I’m grateful to the Higgins family that supporting the communities they operate within is built into the fabric of their business.

How does your time working in operations help you with your current role?

Painting is a unique discipline. It’s the trade that everyone thinks they can do better, cheaper, and faster. From my experience in working on the brush, I learned that you can’t afford to take shortcuts regarding safety, products, application methodology, and access systems utilised. Delivering a cost-effective solution for our customers without compromising on any of these elements is a unique challenge, but one I’m far better equipped at handling thanks to my time working as a painter.

I look forward to what the future holds for our Perth team, and hope to continue growing the Higgins brand within Western Australia.