Aptus Interviews with Industry Leaders
Tom Murphy speaks to CEO Richard Cirillo & Corporate Relations Manager Andrea Hill.
Tom: Taylors have recently released the new brand. Can you describe how the new brand differs to your previous brand?
Andrea: Its not so much that we now have a different brand. We have undergone a process of evolution in terms of vision, strategy and delivery which has resulted in the strengthening of the existing Taylors brand. We now have three distinct businesses under the Taylors banner in Urban Development, Built Environments and Infrastructure. Our new structure reflects our response to market demands and our continued strategic focus upon growth and diversification.
Richard: We also took the opportunity to enhance the definition of our core values to better reflect the heartbeat of the business in: Relationships / Expertise / Solutions.
Tom: Are there any new areas of growth within the business which you’d like to announce?
Richard: Growth and diversification are fundamental drivers for our Board. We have spent a good deal of time and effort in building a business that builds business and this means not only winning new work but also building business structure and process and people. These elements combined give us a fantastic platform for growth both organically and through acquisition...
Andrea: We are always on the look out for new opportunities. As well as organic growth we seek to expand and develop through acquisition, and were successful last year in acquiring the survey firm, Little & Brosnan. This year we are looking at growth through geographical expansion as well as through adding to our range of consulting services which currently list as survey, planning, design (including landscape design) and architecture. We are hoping to have some further news to share with you shortly in this regard.
Tom: Land development is an area / sector which has suffered over the past 12-18 months. As this is a large portion of your business can you give us an insight into how you’ve managed to sustain your business throughout these times and how you see the immediate future for land development across the East Coast?
Richard: Yes, this sector forms approximately 65% of our overall business revenue. We have still managed about 20% growth of the urban development business despite the uncertainties in the market. The message at Taylors was pretty simple, ....focus on the things that we can control.. and above all look after our existing customers in the best manner possible by providing good, attentive service and solutions driven attitude for a fair price. We went to our values and set about re-enforcing our "relationships first" principal and thankfully for us, this was embraced by the vast majority of our clients. The end result has been closer relationships with our existing clients and attraction of new clients who value this honest and up front approach.
Tom: Being an employer over the past 5-10 years has seen a change in the way businesses have to communicate to their market and their staff internally. Taylors have had great success over the past 5 years in particular in maintaining a strong client base and a high level of staff retention. How have you adapted to these changes?
Andrea: One of our core business values is centred on Relationships, both external and internal. Having a strong people focus is part of the culture at Taylors and we do work hard at striving to be an employer of choice within our industry. Our remuneration is consistently above the average however we recognise that now more than ever, this is only part of what influences the decision for candidates to want a career at Taylors. Our vision talks to innovation and the desire to put our professionals in the space of ground-breaking project and development activity and we seek to enable our people to lead into new frontiers. We support our people through a range of programs from Pulse our Performance Management tool which focuses on building strong communication, coaching and feedback at all levels, through to FLIP our Fit Life In Program to help promote a healthy lifestyle and assist with work/life balance issues. We have a healthy social life too with a range of opportunities for our people to get to know one another from our annual Easter Family Fun Day to our much anticipated Christmas Lunch event to our Milestone Morning Teas and First Friday Dinners occurring throughout the year.
We believe that the focus we give to developing relationships with our people at all levels is a big part of what contributes to our steady retention rate.
4D Workshop, the new Consulting Engineers on the block
Tom Murphy (Aptus) speaks to co-founding director of 4D Workshop, David Farrar to find out what makes them tick.
Tom: Firstly, congratulations on the new structural engineering practice, 4D Workshop.
David: Thank you Tom.
Tom: It seems to me that starting a new business during a time of uncertainty is a pretty gutsy thing to do. Why did you start this now?
David: The concept behind 4D Workshop has been developing for some time. We wanted to set up a consulting practice that was different from where we had previously worked. Figuring out “the differences” is what took the time.
As far as getting started in the GFC goes, it was a two edged sword. On one hand, it meant the possibility that the work in the construction sector could dry up. On the other hand, the people undertaking the projects were asking for more from their consultants, which is another way of saying in a buyers’ market the focus shifts to getting the best value for their project.
So in a way this shift in the market was complimentary with getting 4D Workshop up and running. Dave (David Doolan, co-founding Director with David Farrar) and I took a big gulp of air, and jumped off the cliff. It was a real leap of faith, but we believed in ourselves, what we were doing and how we could deliver the value to our clients. Here we are today with a good client list and a healthy log of work. We are focussing on the quality and value our services rather than external influences.
Tom: You speak of your clients and possibly that you bring a point of difference or a value difference to their businesses. Why do you believe you have something different to offer?
David: Yes, our services are different. As we developed the concept that is now 4D Workshop we wanted to shift the the way we worked with our clients to being more collaborative and creative, even if that meant challenging current thinking. To be able to challenge means you have to develop client relationships to the point where your clients trust you and want to collaborate. This collaborative relationship is developed through the workshop idea in our name, 4D Workshop. We invest in our clients business to demonstrate a new way of working with them. Once we have a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, the creativity kicks in. We challenge their thinking about their project and the outcomes they want to achieve to create new opportunities for both them and for ourselves.
Tom: That’s always the issue though, it may be easy at the moment for you and Dave as you both have loads of experience, and appreciation of the industry but how do staff fit in, how do you see them as part of your point of difference?
David: Good Question. Our staff are our most valuable asset, and they are ambassadors to our clients. They must reflect and reinforce what 4D Workshop stands for, which is encapsulated in our values of innovation, experience, quality and trust, in every client engagement. They need to be more than just great engineers they need to be able to do all of the things we have just talked about so that our clients get a consistent experience when ever they work with 4D Workshop. Finding the right staff for our business will not just be about us, but also about what is right for them and where they want to go in their career. If we nail both, then we are all winners.
Tom: So what’s on the immediate horizon for 4D Workshop?
David: Pretty much business as usual, which for 4D Workshop, meaning we will be doing more things differently to deliver client value. We will continue working with our clients to assist them with tendering procurement and bid process, construction logistics and risk management services. We definitely won’t be resting on our laurels. We will develop new approaches and services offerings that we have identified with our clients. They have asked us to assist them to develop these ideas for mutual benefit. This leads to more collaboration and innovation further strengthening our client partnerhips.
We are also very excited about the appointment of another director, Rob DiBlasi who will be joining us in mid-December. Rob is closely aligned with 4D Workshop’s core values and we believe his contribution will further strengthen and complement our dynamic and experienced leadership group.