Laresa Bassi: Reforming the Benchmarks of Entrepreneurship

In today’s world, a lot of people have ideas, but only few dare to convert those ideas into opportunities. Laresa Bassi is one such entrepreneur who believed in giving wings to her long-cherished aspirations.

Taking Calculated Risks

It all started when Laresa left college at the age of 17 and signed up for a 16-month hairdressing course in Melbourne. Being a shy kid, she has always pushed herself to the limit and often challenged her abilities. After finishing her course, Laresa joined a chain salon in Melbourne and worked there for 12 months. Soon, she realized what she wanted to do and decided to start her own mobile hairdressing business. “When I told the owner of the chain that I was leaving to have a go at starting my own business, his response was ‘you will never make it’. There was no encouragement or advice given, but I believed in myself and the ability to make this work,” shares Laresa. Taking his words as a challenge, she motivated herself to prove that she can achieve anything on her mind.

Laresa Bassi
Laresa Bassi,
Director and Co-Founder, Construct Group

Laresa started with a handful of clients, advertising in the local paper and word of mouth. That’s how she entered the small business market. From experience, she learned the importance of taking pride in one’s work, providing quality service, and building relationships, which were vital to her success. She stayed in the business for three more years and moved on to her next challenge to rebuild a struggling donut shop in Sydney.

Within two weeks of the opportunity knocking on her door, Laresa packed and moved to Carlingford Sydney. By implementing new procedures along with work ethics and values she learned from her first businesses, Laresa increased the turnover of the donut shop within 12 months by 600%. For several years, she traveled to Rock Hampton, Cairns, and Townsville developing policies, procedures, and frameworks using the same philosophy of quality of work, strong relationships, and customer service. In 1996, Laresa decided to leave everything behind and moved back to Melbourne.

Once she was back in Melbourne, Laresa began from the scratch and started hairdressing as part-time while working in retail. She met her husband Ronnie who was working for a large labor hire company that was going to lay off 30 staff. As Ronnie had a lot of connections both professionally and personally that used labor hire, they decided to start a business on their own called Larry’s Labor Hire. Like many other small businesses the first couple of years were hard, they learned a valid lesson during this time that no matter what the debtor contract timeframe is, sometimes people will pay late. After 12 months they were able to build a trusted client base. Even though they were starting to grow, they ran the business as a small family-sized business focused on customer service relationships.

Inception Tale of Construct Traffic

“Several years later we were asked by some of our clients that hired traffic controllers if we could provide a full traffic management service,” shares Laresa. “So we started Construct Traffic as it seemed like a natural progress and we already had the infrastructure this time.”

Construct Traffic took off at a rapid pace. It needed a bigger office space to house vehicles and the couple bought their first office in Tullamarine. In 2009, the company received a call asking them to send vehicles and staff to the aftermath of the King Lake fires to help with the recovery. The company recruited staff through its network, hired vehicles, and branded them temporarily with magnets within 24 hours. The company was able to demonstrate that it was a sustainable business capable of growth that led them to larger contracts. At this point, Laresa re-branded Larry’s Labor Hire to Construct Personnel. Over the last 20 years, the company has developed an extremely in-depth and detailed induction process as well as working with local RTO’s to engage suitable personnel to apply.

The company holds a daily toolbox meeting, project briefing meeting at the commencement of new jobs, and regular safety and satisfaction meetings with companies. “This has been a process that has been pressure tested over time and I believe enforces the high standard of safety and customer service that has contributed to our success,” says Laresa. She adds, “I must reiterate how seriously we take the safety of our staff and public. We would not put anyone at risk. Our robust induction process also filters out and identifies people who will not be suitable for the job.”

In 2012, Construct Traffic undertook the ISO Quality assurance to validate the procedures and commitment to safety. And in its first GAP audit, the assessor commented on the extent and effectiveness of the current systems. Although the systems are strong, the company is still flexible enough to adapt changes in technology or government work safety regulations. It successfully running a safe workplace based on the policies and procedures it implemented all those years ago.

Entrepreneur with Values

“My principles have always been strong from the time I started the hairdressing business to now including authenticity, being true to myself and not allowing people to harm my belief in myself,” asserts, Laresa. She believes that integrity in treating people that work for Construct as the valued staffs who contribute to business can only happen only if she is transparent, honest, and dependable in her actions. Laresa values creativity, quality of work, diversity, and building a positive working relationship with clients and staff.  She values innovative technology and uses it to its full extent and capacity from security to rostering and vehicle tracking systems. 

Creating a Future Driven by Success

Laresa believes that success shouldn’t be judge based on bank balance, and that has never been a motivator for her. Looking back at her journey, she shares: “I have been able to achieve something which I was told I couldn’t do. That experience made me realise that passion, dedication and encouragement from others, even if it is just from one person, is all that you need to be successful. Knowing that we are helping others gives us a sense of purpose. We always try to be that positive person for others, the ones who encourage them to set and achieve their goals, especially our daughters.  Taking each day as an opportunity to make a positive impact in someone’s else life motivates me in life.”

As a business owner and leader, Laresa looks forward to continue running a business where everyone is valued, where employees enjoy coming to work and are proud of themselves for their work. “We have diversified recently leveraging off of the Construct branding and started Construct Wear Australia (an online clothing company) 12 months ago. It is small now, but it gives me something else to get excited about,” shares Laresa.