Palyku man Garry Jaffrey is resolute when asked what his ambition for his company is: to help Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses work together.
Mr Jaffrey grew up in Port Hedland following his mum and dad’s long prospecting trips in the bush and watching his mum yandeeing in the creek, separating the gold fines from the dirt.
These days he lives in a remote community in the Kimberley where he is using his business nous to help other Indigenous companies and non-Indigenous firms work together across Western Australia.
Lending a hand was always the plan right back to when the Jaffrey-Sam family sat down 10 years ago to discuss a business model which supported the family and the wider community of the Pilbara Region.
“On top of that was a conversation and commitment to work collaboratively with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people growing together,” Mr Jaffrey said.
“So we formed a business called Maramara.
“Mara (pronounced Murra) meaning hand, the concept being, (Maramara) hand in hand together we grow – Indigenous and non indigenous people growing together.”
Maramara, a civil contracting firm, got its big break in 2014 with Fortescue when it gained a contract undertaking rock armouring and services on the Pilbara rail and road network in the Fortescue port rail loop.
And while Maramara has spread its wings, Mr Jaffrey keeps close ties with Fortescue.
He remains involved in a major dewatering project at the miner’s Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek operations through the KCU joint venture.
And Maramara was this week announced as one of three Indigenous businesses awarded a three-year support mobile equipment dry-hire contract, alongside Orebody Resources and Barrooghumba WPH JV.
The latest deal will see Maramara, Orebody and Barrooghumba provide equipment such as graders, water carts and excavators to Fortescue’s Pilbara operations.
Fortescue communities, environment and government director Warren Fish said the miner had longstanding relationships with the three firms.
“Procurement is one of the most powerful levers for social and economic change, and from experience we know that a strong Aboriginal business sector is best placed to create employment and development opportunities for their communities,” he said.
Mr Jaffrey said the contract presented a “huge” opportunity for his team.
“Fortescue played a big part in our establishment,” he said.
“One of the key objectives of our business is to support Aboriginal people coming into the workplace.
“Being awarded this contract will help us grow our business, build capacity and create opportunities for more Aboriginal people.”
Today Maramara has grown from its spiritual home in the Pilbara and Kimberley and has plans to go national.
“We are… connecting with family communities and towns, being able to grasp the opportunities not only to support indigenous people with work… but also helping other Indigenous businesses grow their capabilities,” Mr Jaffrey said.
“Growing a company from the bush, from an isolated community, is extremely hard to get supported.
“You also want to identify as a business, the opportunities for our people and community in the early stages of a contract to incorporate a collaborative approach to working together as one team.”
While filled with plenty of ambition, Mr Jaffrey said his goal was simply to build a people-friendly company which helped Indigenous and non-Indigenous people work together.