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How former South Sydney player Wes Maas built a $600 million fortune

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For a man whose fortune has plunged almost $200 million in the past year, former national rugby league player turned businessman Wes Maas is incredibly upbeat.

The 42-year-old, who founded construction materials and property business Maas Group, after quitting football two decades ago, expects that his ASX-listed company will almost double its growth in the next three to five years.

Maas says the driver of that growth will be the work generated from what he estimates is $33 billion in planned federal and state government infrastructure spending across regional New South Wales and Queensland, on projects from hospitals, schools, affordable housing, roads, rail to renewable investments.

“Our outlook for the next three to five years is 30 to 50 per cent stronger than the last three to five years, and the basis for that is the infrastructure spend in the regional areas of the eastern states of Australia,” says Maas, who played football for South Sydney, before a shoulder injury halted his career in his early 20s.

“Off the back of that infrastructure spend you’re going to see significant population and job growth in the regions. The housing market in the regions where we’re operating, you’re looking at 0.5 per cent vacancy rates, so you couple that with the future growth of jobs, and it means you’re going to see an accelerated demand for housing.”

“Our outlook for the next three to five years is 30 to 50 per cent stronger than the last three to five years,” says Maas Group chief executive Wes Maas.Credit:Dylan Del Moro 

Maas Group has four divisions, real estate, civil construction and hire, construction materials and manufacturing. While it has built hubs around regional cities such as Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Tamworth in New South Wales, and Rockhampton in central Queensland, it has also been involved in providing equipment and services to some of the largest infrastructure projects in NSW, from the Sydney Metro, Snowy Hydro 2.0 and WestConnex. It’s also part of a consortium that is developing the $70 million Marriott International hotel at Western Sydney airport.

Stockbroker Morgans, which worked on Maas Group’s public listing along with Moelis, has a $5.60 share price target on Mass Group. It’s a bullish forecast in a bear market, particularly with investor concerns about the rising costs in the building materials sector, and a slowdown in the housing market and economy. The slowdown has also raised questions about whether federal and state governments will proceed with all of their planned infrastructure projects.

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Maas Group listed on the stockmarket in December 2020 at $2 a share. Last Friday, its shares closed at $4.

Wes Maas still owns 50 per cent of the company he started in Dubbo with a single bobcat and a tipper truck. His stake was worth $760 million one year ago, but with the market decline the value of that stake has slumped to $590 million.

In the past year, Maas Group has underperformed the broader ASX200 index by 10 per cent. And while some investors are nervous, Wes Mass has ploughed almost $10 million into acquiring more shares into the company he founded.

“I have no better place to put my money than the company,” he says. “We’ve got a really strong outlook and I know exactly what we’re going to do over the next few years, so I think we’re better positioned today than when we listed at the IPO.”

Wes Maas, left, at pre-season training for South Sydney at the end of 2001.

Wes Maas, left, at pre-season training for South Sydney at the end of 2001. Credit:Scott Barbour


Maas Group, which has a staff of 1200, has a vertically integrated model where it controls most of its own supply chain, from owning quarries to heavy earth moving equipment. It has 31 quarries, 12 concrete plants and 450 pieces of machinery and equipment for hire. It also owns a factory in Vietnam, which makes underground mining equipment.

“Most of the things we do, we do 80 per cent of in house. We’re quite different to a lot of developers who contract out,” says Maas. “Our cost is our cost. Obviously, we’ve seen inflation in house building, but we’ve been able to pass that on in house prices. We’ve maintained our margin. On the infrastructure side the business is as strong as ever, on the construction materials side it’s as strong as ever. We’ve got a better forward order book than we’ve ever had.”

The company has 8095 residential property housing lots, with plans to sell about 550 lots annually. Many of the residential estates Maas Group develops include a neighbourhood commercial precinct, which add to the commercial property arm that Wes Maas expects will dominate the company in the next three to five years.

In the interim, Wes Maas sees the current shortage of skilled workers as the biggest challenge to his company, rather than the risk of an economic slowdown.

“I don’t have an exit plan.”

Wes Maas, chief executive Maas Group

Morgan’s broker Liam Schofield has forecast that Maas Group’s net profit will grow from $34.7 million in 2021 to $150.1 million by 2025. He expects that growth will partly be driven through more acquisitions. Maas Group has been aggressively hoovering up quarries and service businesses such as Garde, which installs and maintains underground high-voltage cables.

Schofield says he is largely bullish on the company because of its exposure to regional infrastructure work. “A lot of our thesis is driven by regional infrastructure, and it’s also that vertical integration model. They’re building a portfolio of residential estates, which they can build out using much of their own product. So, we think that that gives them the best chance of controlling costs, which is a major issue in this current environment.”

Wes Maas says he will continue to grow the company sustainably. “I don’t have an exit plan. I’ve always been goal-based and focused on continuing to build a bigger business.”

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