A Belief in Co-operative Contracting


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Back in 1966, when Phillip Lipman founded the construction company bearing his name, he created it with a vision, a fresh new approach to contracting at the time called “co-operative contracting.” His goal was to see Phillip Lipman Construction Pty Ltd not only provide quality products and services to its clients, but work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect to produce a positive outcome for both partners.

Over the next four decades, things changed. The scope and size of Lipman’s construction projects evolved. In 1983, the company changed hands when Phillip Lipman and Max Bowen sold their shares in the successful business, which was later restructured into the holding company Lipman Group Pty Ltd, with three subsidiary companies. Even with these and other changes, the core values and emphasis on “co-operative contracting” established by Phillip Lipman 44 years ago remained the same.

“I think the focus today is more closely aligned to when Mr Lipman founded the company than it has been in its entirety,” says Managing Director Paul Watkins. A 100-employee strong management organization serving New South Wales, the Lipman Group Pty Ltd is a holding company, with a construction arm (Lipman Pty Ltd), and a property development arm, Lipman Properties Pty Ltd. At the time the company was originally formed, its focus was on the construction of low-rise homes and town houses; today, it undertakes a variety of projects ranging from under $1 million to in excess of $100 million, including new construction, refurbishment, and fitout works. No matter the nature or size of the project, the company’s cooperative nature remains the cornerstone of its business.

A Culture of Cooperation

“It is part of the culture of this organization that we behave in a very cooperative way,” says Watkins. “We see ourselves as bringing our expertise to the team, and we expect the expertise of others also participating in that team. So whether we’re involved right from the beginning of a project or we’re only participating in an element of the project, we see one of our focuses as being a cooperative player – not aggressive, or acting in an adversarial way, but being part of the team in a consultive, cooperative way.”

Known for delivering projects on time, every time, achieving “˜defect free’ completion, exceeding client expectations and providing genuine value for money, the company also takes pride in its unique Lipman Management System. It is fully certified to ISO9001, 18001, and 14001, encompassing quality assurance, environmental management, and occupational health and safety. By uniting the three systems – along with policies, procedures, action plans, check lists and responsibilities – the company has created a highly successful and fully-integrated management system.

“We use the system across all of our projects as a tool ensuring those three elements of our management system are adhered to, and that we get consistency of outcome,” says Watkins. The system, combined with a strong adherence to integrity, creativity, performance and cooperation, has enabled Lipman to become one of the nation’s premiere property development and construction companies, specialising in commercial, retail, industrial, education, health, and high-density residential projects.

Many Well-Known Clients

The range of Lipman projects is legendary, and counts many well-known Australian businesses, schools, sports clubs and government institutions. Over the years, the company has worked for Caltex Australia Pty Ltd, Energy Australia, University of Western Sydney, Central Queensland University, NSW Department of Commerce, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, NSW Department of Corrective Services, NSW Department of Education, Qantas Airways Limited, McDonalds Australia, and the University of Sydney.

For the University of New South Wales, Lipman created a magnificent 14,000 square metre building at Amzac Park, Kensington. For the Bulldog Leagues Club in Belmore, Lipman built a $27 million structure complete with a basement indoor sports area, ground floor lounge bar, dining area, extensive water features and landscaping, and more.

At Lipman, the company’s many resources allow it to become involved in construction and a great deal more. “It varies upon client needs,” says Watkins. “Some clients are very happy to design and document, and we will tender. Some clients will come to us with an idea, and we will convert that idea into a build form. So our offerings are quite diverse, in regard to the services we provide.” In one instance, Lipman was approached by a client who had an idea for a project, but no site on which to build, and no viable source of necessary funding. “We took that idea, sourced the site for them, sourced the funds for them, and delivered a project for them.”

Considering its many capabilities, it is no wonder the company’s slogan is “˜The obvious choice.’ Its ability to deliver professional projects on time and on budget has earned the company a great deal of ongoing and repeat business over the years. The company has many projects underway, including a new one for Western Sydney University at Bankstown Campus – the fourth project Lipman has carried out for the institution.

“We have recently finished Queenwood senior school, and have subsequently been awarded Queenwood junior school,” says Watkins. The recently completed $15 million project consisted of many elements, including a multi-functional educational building, sports court, 25 metre swimming and training pool and associated facilities, and other rooms. The project required considerable excavation work, relocation of existing sewer and stormwater systems, partial demolition, removal of existing asbestos sheetings, extensive underpinning of the existing structure, retaining walls and refurbishment of the retained building.

Another project under construction is the Moore Park Supa Centa. Expected to be completed in June of 2011, the $30 million job will see the refurbishment of the homemaker and lifestyle/bulky goods shopping centre. In addition to a vertical expansion, Lipman is in the process of reconstructing part of the atrium, and refurbishment of the ground level mall.

In addition to many other commercial, university, and sports team building expansions, the company was recently retained for one of its most unusual jobs: the creation of a chimpanzee enclosure for the Taronga Zoo, located on Sydney Harbour’s northern foreshore. “It is a very unique project,” says Watkins. “You don’t tend to go and build chimpanzee enclosures every day of the week.”

Over the years, the company has won numerous awards from prestigious organizations like the Master Builders Association of NSW for its excellence in construction. While these awards are impressive, Managing Director Paul Watkins says they would not have been possible without the company’s most important asset of all: its dedicated staff. There is very little turnover at the company, and in fact, Lipman recently handed out four awards to employees for their 20 years of service.

“Loyalty is an important ingredient in a successful cooperation,” says Watkins. “We have the responsibility for 100 families, 100 employees, and we take that responsibility seriously. I’m a staff member as well, and we all have an important role in making sure the company does well now, and into the future.”

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’?

July 14, 2020, 11:17 AM AEST