Tough ride on the business rollercoaster in Gladstone

GLADSTONE businesses have been facing staff issues, a decrease in work and high costs since the industrial boom began to slow.

More than half of the 212 businesses that responded to the Boom or Bust Gladstone region study reported facing problems in the past 12 months.

Issues included work dropping off dramatically, companies using out of town services rather than local, and expenses ballooning because of excessive wages and rent.

But business owners such as Angelo Maltabes and Jodie Thomson were also optimistic about the future.

Realistically, businesses were predicting the next 12 months may not provide the same high experienced over the past 12 months, but they considered it to be returning to an original position rather than a "bust".

Businesses The Observer spoke to on Tuesday agreed with the general findings of the study, which suggested businesses saw financial benefits and increased customers, but also had to pay higher wages, higher costs and become more competitive.

Jantzen Constructions' Jodie Thomson said the domestic housing market had struggled with the number of "out of towners" cashing in on Gladstone's accommodation blitz.

"It was hard to compete against builders down south when we're trying to support local suppliers and tradesmen," she said.

"But the people we deal with are also locals, and they want quality service and materials, and for the builder to stick around."

Ms Thomson said the study results would provide good lessons to learn from, such as the need to diversify and actively advertise.

"But we're not a volume builder - we would rather build a few quality houses," she said.

"The advice we were provided by a few long-term builders is to ride out the rollercoaster because Gladstone is renowned for these lull periods."

Battery World franchise owner Angelo Maltabes said previous history and good preparation had got him through the boom.

"We give a 24/7 service - it's a have to, not a want to - for people whose batteries have died," he said.

"A lot of the FIFOs didn't have cars but we did get flow-on (from the boom) with mobile phone accessories, chargers, and laptop batteries only to mention a few."

Mr Maltabes said he had seen much change over 50 years in Gladstone, and wasn't surprised when the boom period re-emerged.

"We've never lost a staff member," he said, but added that he had increased wages.

"We've got to reinvent ourselves," he said. "If you're positive, positive things happen. My experience in business has been and is still great."