First Class Building Expertise

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

Since 2003, the team at FIRM Construction Pty Ltd has provided top-notch commercial and industrial building expertise to numerous clients in Western Australia. Located in Perth, FIRM Construction works alongside property developers, project managers, architects, engineers, and highly-skilled trades people to create or refurbish structures that are competitively priced, cost-effective, and built to last.

“We specialise in commercial construction in WA and handle all sorts of commercial, industrial, and mining construction projects,” says Mark O’Gorman, Project Director at FIRM Construction and one of the company’s founders. “At FIRM, we will handle all things, from groundworks all the way through to completion, including painting, tiling, ceilings, finishes, and carpeting.”

Over the years, the company created by business partners Mark O`Gorman and Simon Linklater has been actively involved in a wide range of projects, including school construction, industrial warehousing and sheds, mining projects, medical facilities, new office buildings, retail fitouts, warehouses, refurbishments, and feasibility studies.

Years of Hands-on Experience

Prior to founding the company eight years ago, Messrs O`Gorman and Linklater worked hands-on in the construction industry, doing trade-based work including insurance jobs, refurbishment and refit, sheetrock, carpentry, and ceiling repair. Even though they worked for others, the two were always self-sufficient, and knew they wanted to run their own business one day and be in charge of what they were doing for themselves. “In those days, we were doing certain elements of the projects ourselves, but we would also engage plumbing contractors and electrical contractors to come in, and do certain elements of work on our project,” says Mr O’Gorman. Working with others inspired the duo to become involved in project management and project coordination, but they knew if their business was going to succeed, they needed qualifications. Soon, they took courses in construction management, engineering, economics, project management, and quantity surveying, graduating a few years later. “In that time, we had also come up with a business plan to start FIRM Construction,” says Mr O’Gorman.

Along with his Bachelor of Applied Science – CME with Honors from Curtin University, Mr O’Gorman gained experience working for a property developer and residential builder in Cape Town, South Africa, and has experience in the building of car parks and service roads, and family ties to the second largest earthmoving and civil contractor in the south west. Mr Linklater, who also has a Bachelor of Applied Science – CME from Curtin University, today serves as Director at FIRM Construction, and along with being a qualified Quantity Surveyor, undertakes all aspects of the company’s pricing and estimating, has a background in Construction Management, and oversees the day-to-day operations at the company.

Today, FIRM Construction has a full-time staff of about 15, with another five individuals working on a contract basis. Since the company manages projects, the core team works with a very large subcontractor base to carry out the work, including concretors, carpenters, formworkers, electricians, plumbers, and mechanical contractors, who are managed by FIRM’s management staff.

Personalised Service

From the early days, friendly personalised service and keeping clients “˜in the know’ have remained key objectives at FIRM Construction. Specialising in project management of large scale industrial and civil engineering jobs requires more than knowledge – it also requires communication at every stage, all the way from initial design to completion.

“We like to keep an open line of communication with our clients, where they can pick up the phone and give us a ring if there are any problems, and we’re able to tell them straight away what’s going on,” says Mr O’Gorman. “There’s none of this “˜I’ll have to get back to you’ or “˜I’ll have to call you back tomorrow,’ or that type of thing. We like to be very involved in what’s happening. An open line of communication is pivotal to creating a personalised relationship with our clients.”

For O’Gorman and Linklater, it is important to know what is happening on their job sites. Coming from such a hands-on background in the industry, the two remain directly involved in their present-day projects. “We’re not the type of directors who take a back seat and really don’t know what’s going on within our operations,” comments Mr O’Gorman. “We’re very much involved in the day-to-day running of our business, and we know exactly what’s happening on the work face.”

To maintain projects on schedule, the company has a solid program in place. Considerable time is spent planning projects from the beginning, so the company maintains construction activities and sequencing. Clients are a part of the planning process, which helps them remain informed of construction phases, time frames and the completion time. The highly experienced team at FIRM Construction ensures that all projects – from new commercial constructions to refurbishment and upgrades – are properly managed from start to finish.

From Mining Projects…

Over the years, FIRM Construction has successfully managed a number of projects for mining companies and government clients. The company is presently involved in a number of jobs for internationally known mining giant, Rio Tinto, which has numerous assets in Australia and North America, along with operations in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. The company’s work for Rio Tinto includes office buildings and heavy industry production facilities. “All of the projects are part of Rio Tinto’s rail expansion program, which is essentially an expansion that would increase capacity of their railway infrastructure in WA, and particularly in the Karaatha area, the Pilbara, which is the area where all the minerals are,” says Mr O’Gorman, who estimates the company still has about a year’s worth of work ahead of them. “They’re one of the bigger mining clients in WA, and we’re quite happy to be working with Rio Tinto, and projects are staying on time and on-budget.”

For its industrial and mining clients, FIRM Construction also offers a design and construct service. The company will create a concept for the design, and then engage sub-consultants to handle the architectural and engineering components of the design in consultation with the client. From there, the company will project manage that phase through approvals that are required by local councils and shires in WA and – once the project is approved and ready for construction – will finalise the budget for the client, and move the project into the construction phase, handling it all the way from groundworks to practical completion.

…to School Construction

Recently, the company has undertaken a number of school construction projects under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program. At $1.26 billion, the BER program is providing building, refurbishment, and maintenance works across 773 Western Australian Government primary and high schools as part of the Australian Government’s economic stimulus plan. For the Kingsley Primary School, FIRM Construction acted as builder, working with Architect Gresley Abas Pty Ltd. The school’s Principal, Matthew O’Mara, was thrilled with the new, state-of-the art facilities, stating “The facilities are a real asset and will change the school’s profile” of the building, which received a new covered assembly area and canteen, art and craft room and music room as part of the BER initiative.

With the facilities completed on schedule, Principal O’Mara could not speak more highly of the team at FIRM Construction. “Their workmanship has been first class and they developed a really good working relationship with Sally Woollard, our Registrar, to ensure everything went really smoothly,” said O’Mara. The company was equally pleased with the results,

“I applaud the Building the Education Revolution initiative,” said Mr O’Gorman when the project was completed last year. “During the Global Economic Crisis, we have been able to spread work out to local subcontractors due to the volume of work and develop new working relationships with other companies we would not have done normally.”

At FIRM Construction, the company has taken on projects up to about $50 million in scope, with many ranging between $2 and $25 million. No matter the size of the job, all projects are managed with care and professionalism through all phases of the development process. To ensure all jobs are managed to the highest standards possible, FIRM Construction has established long-term positive relationships with select sub-contractors to ensure quality workmanship is maintained, and deadlines are met.

“There are two main benefits,” says Mr O’Gorman. “There’s the economy of scale benefit of being able to work together to get a better price out of your sub-contractors, but there’s also a quality and time issue there, where you’re able to work to produce a higher level of quality, and particularly a quicker turnaround or timeframe. We try to work together, and build on the positive partnerships that we’ve got with our subcontractors.” Additionally, the company often works with the same select engineering companies, which often benefits the client by creating designs that are more cost-effective to construct. To keep overhead costs reduced for the company’s clients, all phases of development are handled in-house.

For professional, personalised, and expertly managed commercial and industrial construction and refurbishment projects, choose FIRM Construction Pty Ltd.

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 26, 2020, 7:03 AM AEST