The Australians have a saying when you are getting a bad deal – you are getting “fleeced”. And that is just how this great Western Australian based member owned business got started. The Capricorn story is something of a legend these days – but 38 years ago seven Golden Fleece service station operators met in a Perth pub and as the beer flowed so did the stories about the different prices these small business operators were paying for the automotive parts they needed.

Fast forward to May 2012 when nearly 500 Capricorn Members and Preferred Suppliers met in Phuket in Thailand for the biannual international Capricorn Convention. The convention is not only the highlight of the calendar and a chance to network and get to grips with the latest business practices – for many of these hard working family businesses, it is the chance to take time off and enjoy some well-deserved down time. It is just one example of the benefits of collaborative business the co-operative way.

38 years ago, those service station operators worked out that the only way to get a fair deal on prices was to unite and the co-op model proved the right fit providing commercial benefits of collaborative activity; profiting together.

Today Capricorn has more than 14,000 Members and operates across three countries (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). In 2011 it turned over an outstanding AU$1 billion in Member purchases.

Capricorn proudly operates by the co-operative principles to primarily support small and medium businesses in the automotive industry. Members can manage their businesses more efficiently by saving time and money. The co-op offers services like consolidated billing, instant credit, access to a network of Preferred Suppliers and a rewards program. Capricorn has also branched into other services that their Members need like finance, travel services and business protection through a dedicated Mutual.

Capricorn stays close to its Members’ needs through a team of dedicated, locally based area managers who regularly visit their Members to understand their business needs and keep them up to date with what is happening at Capricorn and in the automotive parts buying industry. Capricorn encourages Members and Preferred Suppliers to work together and holds business and social events throughout the year.

Back in Phuket, Capricorn had the chance to demonstrate how it takes corporate social responsibility seriously. This year’s attendees generously supported the local charity through a raffle that raised over AU$10,000 for the Baan Lung Pitak orphanage and the generosity of Capricorn Members extended to donations of toys and practical items too.

Being a multinational company these days there are naturally competitive activities between Members including the coveted “Tri Nations Games” between Australia, New Zealand and Republic of South Africa. This year Australia was awarded the title and team members lifted the trophy with pride! It is a long way from the Perth pub but a fantastic journey.