Brisland’s Team Rises to the Top

A Cooperative Approach to Quality


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-By Tim Hocken

The construction industry, perhaps more than any other, depends upon teamwork. Without valuing and utilizing the diverse skills of many individuals, bridges would not be built, heritage sites would not be restored, and buildings would not be constructed. Perhaps most plainly, without teamwork, companies would not endure. Brisland Pty Ltd recognized this when it was founded in 1989, and continues to do so to this day.

In 2009, Brisland Pty Ltd became part of the Kell & Rigby Group and together forged an alliance of about 220 individuals with over 120 years experience among them. Both groups have distinctive records in the industry, and together they have the skills and knowledge base to tackle just about any task. Brisland’s staff numbers approximately 50, and the company serves as an autonomous entity within the group, handling government projects ranging from large-scale civil works to heritage site restoration to new building construction.

The objective of Brisland’s founders was to create a dynamic and progressive organisation that would grow by combining quality work with honesty and openness. The company’s goal was to function as a true team; to Brisland this meant valuing and rewarding employees, seeking feedback from staff at all levels, and creating a supportive environment for both democratic decision-making and career advancement. These priorities have endured through the company’s many years of growth, as Brisland takes pride not only in its work, but also in its people.

Brisland’s keen focus on openness and communication with its staff is also extended to its relationships with clients. The company surveyed and sought feedback from those best qualified to give it; previous, existing, and potential customers. What it found was that clients value open communication, trust, and feeling as though they are part of a team. Brisland responded by developing a cooperative approach; the company is entirely upfront with its clients, inviting them to the table and, safety permitting, onto worksites throughout the entire process. Says Mr. Richard Brisland, the company’s Business Manager, “we like to build [our clients] a good project that they feel excited about”, and he feels this is best achieved when the client and the contractor work as one.

The value Brisland places on its team members is immediately evident upon visiting the company’s comprehensive website, and is emphasized further by Mr. Brisland. Indeed, it is woven into the very fabric of the company’s policies and procedures. Mr. Brisland describes the firm as a “family company”, one which focuses on communication, training, and staff retention. Brisland frequently takes on staff members as cadets while they are still attending university and helps them grow, ultimately, into Project Managers. The company also trains apprentices and has been the recipient of the Master Builders Association “Apprentice of the Year” Award on several occasions. Brisland also prides itself on its high-level management practices, and these too represent an example of strong employee agency. Not content to simply go to a consulting firm and adopt a one-size-fits-all Quality Management System, Brisland instead wanted Quality Assurance to be woven into how it does business, to have all company processes governed by comprehensive procedures. To this end, the company consulted with staff members to gain internal feedback, an inclusive process which generated significant buy-in from employees at all levels. As Mr. Brisland says, “the employees themselves run it… they feel ownership of the whole [quality] system”.

The result, as of 2001, was one of the highest levels of accreditation available to Australian construction companies. Brisland Pty Ltd became an accredited Best Practice Contractor for the New South Wales government. Its Environmental System has also been accredited by the NSW Government, and its Occupational Health and Safety System by both the NSW Government and also by the Commonwealths Government new Australian Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme. The company is in fact one of only 30 contractors in the region who have such top-level accreditations, and as such is able to take on high-profile government projects not otherwise available.

Brisland applies this same level of quality to its unique heritage projects. The company trains every member of its construction staff on heritage- and environmentally-sensitive protocols, and retains several experienced heritage tradesmen on its staff. Brisland has also built strong relationships with Heritage Architects, enabling the company to do justice to such projects as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, the Speers Point Coal Services Relocation, and the restoration of the Newcastle Maritime Museum, for which Brisland worked from original, century-old architectural drawings. Please see sidebar for further detail on the Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

Other notable projects of Brisland’s in recent years include the Maitland Regional Art Gallery, a modern extension on an historic site. The project has been heralded by City Council officials, and took home an MBA Excellence in Construction Award for a “refurbishment, renovation or extension of up to $5 million”. The New South Wales State Library project represents another recent success of Brisland’s on a heritage structure, while the Sydney-based William Street Upgrade provides a stunning example of Brisland’s work on civil infrastructure and streetscaping. Please see sidebars for further detail on these impressive works.

These masterfully executed projects are testaments to the excellence of the Brisland team. Its highly organized approach ensures that work is done safely and to the highest standards of quality. Brisland’s openness and upfront communication speak to how strongly the company values both its clients and its own staff members, and are certain to ensure that Brisland Pty Ltd remains at the top of its field for many years to come.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

May 29, 2020, 5:04 PM AEST