Our Founder – Steve Fordham
Who is Steve Fordham
28 -year-old Kamilaroi man Steve Fordham is the co-founder of Blackrock Industries, a multimillion dollar Indigenous owned and Indigenous operated business shortlisted for the 2019 EBA Awards.
At the age of 13, Steve Fordham was told he was about to die due to a benign polyp found in the middle of his brain.
In a yarn with NITV radio, he confided that this scary discovery in his brain is what sparked a dramatic change on his outlook on life driving him to fully embrace life and never let anything hold him back.
“I was dyslexic throughout high school, I taught myself how to read but when I was diagnosed with a polyp in my brain, with a short time to live, I became more focused on life than school,” Steve Fordham said.
The polyp in his brain eventually dissipated but his mindset was already altered and re-wired for greater achievements.
The only way we are going to fix the system is going out there and doing things ourselves.
Jobs program driving change
He did an apprenticeship, worked for several years as a boilermaker; ventured in pet breeding and lawn mowing before starting his biggest and most successful enterprise.
In 2016 Steve Fordham launched Blackrock Industries with business partner Glen Finnan with whom he shares values and vision.
“Our goal was to build not only a viable business but also a company that gives back and helps people.” They started the business with just $20,000 between them, an old tipper truck and 2 employees.
The company started with a single $1000 contract at Mt Pleasant but they would very quickly diversify in earthworks, mine rehabilitation, demolition, fencing, construction, cleaning and labour-hire services.
Three years down the road, Blackrock Industries boasts a multimillion-dollar turnover and employs more than 100 people.
Steve Fordham says his company aims to grow and expand but what it does along the way supporting the local socioeconomic fabric and closing the gap is as important.
We know how it feels to be a minority
With 70 percent of Blackrock’s s employees being Indigenous Australians and 30 per cent consisting of women and inmates from the local jail, Steve’s business is also helping to close the gap for minorities in the workforce. “We know how it feels to be a minority,” Steve said.
He is particularly proud of the very successful prisoner rehabilitation program (Second Chance for Change) for inmates of St Heliers Correctional Centre. Second Chance for Change.
“One thing that is really important is kicking off this inmate employment program in which we work with inmates, offer them employment and help with their rehabilitation.
This gives them a second chance. So far, only 1 out of the 39 people who have gone through this program has fallen back into the prison system.”
Steve Fordham observes that, per capita, Australian Indigenous over-representation in the prison system is one of the worst situations in the world making Black incarceration in the United States pale in comparison.
“The prisoner recruitment program, though very successful, does not receive funding from any government whether state or federal.”
Steve believes it is through this type of initiative that the disastrous Indigenous incarceration, as well as the chronic Indigenous under or unemployment, can be mitigated.
Through Blackrock’s program former inmates have turned their lives around and have successfully reintegrated the community.
“You can’t find the best employees, you create them. The only way we are going to fix the system is going out there and doing things ourselves.”
Along with the other businesses Steve has made into great successes, his dream is to create the first national indigenous vending business serving a mixture of great products through leading edge vending technology.
“The machine we had in the shed for the team kept breaking down and if it was working they never kept it full. I thought it can’t be that hard and evidently its not you just have to care about providing great service and that is how Blackroo came about.
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