Clare Cane

Clare Cane, Owner Manager, Red Rust Contracting

Clare Cane, Owner/ Manager of Red Rust Contracting based in Kununurra purchased the business specialising in agricultural construction works in the remote north of Western Australia and Top End of Northern Territory with her husband Ross, at the start of the COVID pandemic. Navigating the challenges and opportunities of a new business, the pandemic and attracting a skilled workforce in remote Western Australia have meant that Clare has hit the ground running, simultaneously juggling commitments including a young family, further study and multiple community leadership roles.

Clare is a Board Member of the Ewin Early Learning Centre, Secretary of the KANE Animal Shelter, and former Committee Member of the South-West Marine Parks Advisory Committee.

What are some of the challenges building a business and a family in a remote area?

I fell pregnant just one month after we bought Red Rust Contracting, which also coincided with the start of the pandemic. The effect was twofold. In the first instance childcare availability is a huge issue in remote areas, with waitlists of up to two years being the norm. This meant many late nights of office work and trying to run both a business and a household was exhausting at times.

In addition, buying the business at the start of the pandemic put a lot of pressure on us with regards to staffing, and continues to be our number one challenge. Like many businesses, across many industries, this has put enormous pressure on our business and our family’s work-life balance as we continue to navigate these uncertain times.

What led you to be the business owner of Red Rust Contracting?

My husband worked for Red Rust Contracting for my years, and me for a short period. The previous owners became like family to us and we had a great opportunity to buy the business from them when the opportunity arose. Living in a small remote town is so valuable as the community really get behind you and are willing to give people a go. We felt very supported in our decision to buy the business and we’re grateful for both the opportunity and support we’ve been show by our community.

How does owning your own business give you the flexibility to pursue other goals?

My role within Red Rust Contracting is office based. This allows me to set my own work times around pursuing other goals. I have recently decided to study again and so I am able to fit this in as and when I can. I wouldn‘t be able to be flexible and able to do this if I was working for an employer. Whilst there are many challenges to running your own business, there are also many opportunities.

What are some of your experiences working as a husband and wife team?

It’s challenging to switch off from work outside of ‘ordinary work hours’. We often spend many early mornings, late nights and rare holidays discussing finances, strategy, goals and performance. It’s important to have a mental break from the pressures of running a family business, but often it’s not practical. Our livelihood relies on our business being successful and sustainable and so there are of course many sacrifices we have to make in our family life to ensure we continue to operate.


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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.