Built for Growth
The Global Financial Crisis toppled construction firms like dominoes.
Yet while many builders were rueing their bad luck, Growthbuilt’s managing directors Colin Rahim and Peter Sukkar couldn't believe their good fortune.
“A client we were building for had just started a residential project with another builder. That builder went under and we were ultimately successful in taking over the job,” Rahim recalls.
“We delivered it in full, on time, within budget and without variations. As soon as we finished the job, the client’s lawyer said to us, ‘we've got other clients who have projects starting’.”
It was Growthbuilt’s determination to take this opportunity and make it a success, at a time when all the odds must have seemed stacked against them, that started the transformation of the business.
“We were able to adapt. We went from being a predominantly design and construct commercial head contractor – a sub-industry which was experiencing decline – to mainly residential,” says Rahim, who specialises in business development and client relationships, while Sukkar concentrates on design and construction.
Other firms may have been tempted to cut corners in the lean years, or give unrealistic tender prices, but Rahim says he and Sukkar made a conscious commitment to deliver on quality.
“Peter and I understood one thing: to ensure we kept growing, we had to deliver quality projects, on time and within budget.”
“How do we do that? Investing in the right people, processes and systems, in quality subcontractors and consultants, and by forming a partnership with our clients and their funders,” Rahim explains.
“We understand that our clients are not just the developers, they are also the funders, the government bodies, authorities and ultimately, the end users and greater community of our product. We focus on making sure everyone is happy by taking a collaborative approach, free of the old habits of the industry.”
Following these principles has led to growth coming organically, with the majority of Growthbuilt's work now coming from returning customers.
“For us, repeat business is one of the biggest compliments and most important things you can aim for. You know who you’re working with, you know the client, the relationships are there, the process is a lot easier, and the process efficiencies are much greater,” Rahim says.
Thanks to these solid foundations Growthbuilt has become one of Sydney's major building firms, winning several Master Builders Association (MBA) awards along the way.
Right staff, right project
Behind every successful enterprise is a team of hard-working staff, which is not lost on Rahim.
“Construction has always been a boots-on-the-ground industry,” he says. “It has never been more important, especially during this period of unprecedented construction activity in Australia, to be able to attract and retain good-quality people.”
He says Growthbuilt's recruitment strategy focuses on diversity, providing career and development opportunities, and recognising their 100-strong staff for their achievements.
“The most important part of our success thus far has been the investment in our people,” he says.
When it comes to working with subcontractors, Rahim and Sukkar have a simple philosophy: fair pay for fair work.
“Looking after subcontractors is paramount to a construction business. They do the hard yards and we make a concerted effort to pay them fairly and on time,” Rahim says.
“Our team identifies each subcontractor’s strength to ensure that the right subcontractor is on the right job. That way the subcontractors make the most of the opportunity given to them, grow their businesses and, hopefully, travel with us on the journey.”
But it’s not just people you have to be picky about, it’s projects too. Rahim says having a strong client-vetting process is paramount.
“Don't let the project choose you. You’ve got to make sure you choose the right projects as well,” he says.
“A considerable amount of time, effort and expertise is applied at the start of the process, with the emphasis on choosing the correct projects to tender and pricing correctly.”
And long after the subcontractors and labourers have packed up their tools and moved onto the next project, Growthbuilt has processes and systems in place that help promote the future success of their business.
“We operate in a highly regulated environment where we are liable for up to seven years after completing a project,” Rahim says.
“We have processes in place that allow our after-care service to ensure quality products that exceed clients’ expectations, thereby building strong and lasting relationships that will last well into the future.”
Written by David Barbeler
The articles represent the views of the authors and not necessarily that of the Bank. You should seek independent professional advice before acting on any matters set out in the articles.