A backpacker turned construction business owner has shot to success in Canberra, tripling his revenue in two years and taking out an accolade as the owner of one of Australia's fastest-growing companies. But he's not a builder or developer. Joe Wainwright has created a burgeoning cladding business, specialising in the trendy timber panels seen on the outside of modern homes and commercial buildings. In less than a decade, Wainwright Facades has gone from one employee to 65 staff and is on track to achieve $10 million annual revenue. In a turbulent time for many in the construction industry, Joe says admitting mistakes and building a team that complements him has been key to his success. Born in the UK, Mr Wainwright found himself in Canberra after he ran out of money backpacking in Southeast Asia. A friend in Canberra helped him out, offering Joe a place to stay while he picked up a job at a bar. He soon found a job in construction working on building facades, something he had done back at home. "I left school when I was 16 and went straight into doing cladding, actually straightaway," Joe says. Joe worked for a handful of Canberra companies before deciding to go out on his own, setting up his business in 2014. "It was quite hard to get work at the start because no one knew who I was," he says. "I had no connections ... so it was a hard couple of years." Starting in small residential projects, Wainwright Facades secured a job with local builder Manteena installing timber cladding at Next Gen health club in Lyneham. The job was a pivotal one, Joe says. "I'm really thankful to Manteena for giving us that first opportunity and we still work with them today," he says. In nine years, the business has gone from a staff of one to employing about 65 people in Canberra and interstate. The company's revenue has almost doubled each year over the past three years. In the 2021 financial year, the company turned over $1.8 million, followed by $3.01 million the next year and then $6.06 million in the 2023 financial year. Joe hopes the business will surpass $10 million revenue this financial year. Wainwright Facades was named the nation's 35th fastest growing business of 2023 in the self-nominated Fast 100 list by the Australian Financial Review. The Canberra firm was in good company, just two places behind popular beauty brand MCoBeauty and well ahead of wine delivery service Good Pair Days. Having "the right people in the right places" has helped Joe scale the business successfully. For him, that means having a core leadership team that shares his vision but with personality traits that counterbalance his own. "Sometimes I'm a bit abrupt, I'm a bit harsh and I have an aggressive outlook, but they are a lot tamer and they're a calming influence on me, so it works really well between us," he says. Growing the team first has been key to the business' growth, Joe says. "Sometimes I think people try and do it the other way - grow and then find the people - but you can come unstuck pretty quickly if you don't have the right people," he says. As well as the commercial cladding business, Joe runs a sister company manufacturing a timber panel range in Hume that is supplied across Australia. While the modern, vertical timber panels are the group's bread and butter, right now Joe's team is currently installing an ornamental facade at a Hindu temple in Taylor. "It's a really exciting job for us because we've never done anything like it before," he says. As the facade pieces arrive from India, the Wainwright Facades team installs each piece, making sure they all fit together according to the designs. "It's an intricate job," he says. It has been a rocky year for the construction industry, with insolvency numbers reported by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission skyrocketing. From the start of July to mid-November, 1122 construction industry businesses entered administration or appointed a controller for the first time across Australia, compared to 842 during the same period last year. Over the same period in 2021, there were only 405 first-time administrations in the industry. Having "lasting relationships" is essential in a small construction market like Canberra, Joe says. "We try and make sure we are producing high quality work and also that we're getting on with everyone throughout the chain from the builders, to our employees, to suppliers that we deal with," he says. Joe says the group prides themselves on honesty. "We know we're not perfect but we are trying to be the best we can be. If we make a mistake, we're more than happy to hold our hands up and rectify it," he says. "We try and do repeat work with everyone that we come into contact with because we want to be here for a long time and do the right thing by people."