Family Values

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-By Jaime McKee

The FK Gardner & Sons Group (FKG) is a proud family enterprise built on a foundation of construction and engineering expertise spanning over 35 years. The company originated when the late Francis Kevin Gardner commenced trading as a local builder in the Brookstead area, soon to be joined by his five sons, Gary, Frank, Bruce, Paul and Mick. Over the years, FKG has forged a name for itself as a “dynamic growth focused provider of civil, construction, development and related services concentrated in Queensland and Eastern Australia.” Now expanding its operations, FKG presently employs over 450 staff across project sites as far north as Weipa, west to Mount Isa and along the east coast and has transformed itself into a highly regarded competitor in the commercial building market.

The company specialises in delivering projects in remote and challenging regions. The projects that FKG has undertaken cover a broad range of sectors including, education, health and aged care, commercial, retail, industrial, residential housing, energy, power, pipelines, water and wastewater and mining. With distinct divisions including Commercial and Civil Construction, Developments, Plumbing and Plant Hire, the company is able to offer its clients “the full construction package.”

Coupled with FKG’s diverse array of services is its strong emphasis on health, safety, and environmental stewardship. Everyone at FKG from site teams through to management shares the same commitment to outstanding levels of health, safety, and environmental performance. FKG General Manager, Mr Nick Gardner said, “At FKG we share a philosophy of “˜No Injuries to Anyone, No Harm to the Environment and No Rework or Error’ which ensures we carry out all of our projects sustainably and safely.”

This values-based approach has led to a very strong safety culture within the company. The safety system currently utilised is comprehensive, transparent, and woven throughout every Division and project. It has received third party certification to AS/NZS 4801:2001 through NCS International, and the company is a proud core member of the State Government’s Zero Harm Program, receiving numerous Innovation in Workplace Healthy and Safety Awards from Master Builders Queensland. FKG has achieved recognition for its safety system in the mining and gas industries through a stringent peer review process, and has recently achieved accreditation through the Federal Safety Commission under the National Code of Practice (NCP) for the construction industry.

Entrenched in FKG’s values is sustainability – both ecological and in relation to the built environment. FKG takes an in depth look at all the impacts its actions will have, not only on the job site but also in the broader communities in which the company operates. As Mr Gardner says, “FKG seeks to create better places for people, businesses and communities to grow and we work hard to find better ways to connect with communities, save energy and water, minimise waste and look after wildlife and habitat. Our robust environment and sustainability policies, systems and practices are aimed squarely at reducing environmental impacts, learning and improving the way we do things from project to project, and leaving a positive legacy in the communities where we operate.”

Of course, building a positive legacy begins with creating a great place to work. At FKG employees are the company’s “most important asset”, and a strong importance is placed on valuing staff and team culture. The work environment at the company is second to none, providing employees with healthy catered lunches, health checks, and access to a gymnasium. As Mr Gardner emphasises, these offerings contribute to a healthy workforce and through the communal lunches and regular off site parties encourage camaraderie in the office. As a result, FKG enjoys a staff turnover rate that is well below the industry norm.

Mr Gardner also recognises how valuable strong relationships are with suppliers and partners within the industry. “Construction activity is a fundamental driver to the economic and social sustainability of local, rural and regional communities. By ensuring competitive local businesses receive a fair go through specification of their products, our activities help to create and maintain regional jobs in the construction and related manufacturing industries. We recognise our projects contribute directly and indirectly to employment through direct engagement of sub contractors and related suppliers,” he said.

FKG has forged strong relationships with contractors across Australia and makes it a priority to use local contractors. The company is committed to the Queensland Government’s Local Industry Policy and has contacted Industry Capability Network (ICN) for a list of available pre-qualified registered subcontractors in a variety of regions. FKG believes that this policy “helps build and create an enduring sense of community,” and, where project duration permits, the company often seeks to move key site staff into an area to help establish a sustainable presence in the community.

This approach of recognising how valuable suppliers and employees are to the organisation has empowered FKG to take on many significant and challenging projects. An example of FKG’s focus on environmental stewardship is the Pleasant Hills and Pine Ridge Dams, located on the outskirts of Roma, works included the construction of two 200ML earth embankment dams both featuring sand filter cores and HDPE liners. The dams were constructed to collect and preserve water generated through the extraction of coal seam gas, to be desalinated at a later date.

Showcasing FKG’s talents elsewhere on the spectrum is its work on the impressive Anglican Church Grammar School’s Aquatic Centre and Sports Hall in Brisbane. The Sports Hall covers 2800m2 on the ground level and 1000m2 on the upper level, and incorporates diverse elements such as a gymnasium, sports hall, electronic scoreboards, spectator area, classrooms, administration area and meeting facilities. The Aquatic Centre is comprised of three heated pools, an upgrade of the existing 50m pool, a new 25m pool and a new “learn to swim” pool with additional facilities comprising of an entry office, plant room, changing rooms, spectator facilities, paved areas and landscaping.

For the Mossman Gorge Visitors and Information Centre, FKG is redeveloping what was formerly a two hectare sugar cane field, adjacent to the Mossman River on the edge of the Daintree forest. The Visitors Centre will be another multi-faceted structure, incorporating ramp, entry area, decking, café, commercial kitchen, offices, meeting room, administration area, amenities, ticket sales office, shop and gallery. The Training Centre will feature two two-storey training buildings, two accommodation units for supervisory staff, 16 accommodation rooms for boarding students, two student kitchens, amenity areas and common rooms, family / visitor accommodation, administration offices, sick bay, dining facilities, full commercial training kitchen, two classrooms and seminar facilities. The completed facility will not only provide a service centre to cater for tourism in the area but also create jobs for the local indigenous community throughout construction and even after project completion in the visitor and training centres.

One exciting new project FKG is currently constructing is located at the existing Mackay CQU campus, where FKG is engaged with constructing the Mackay Knowledge Village. This facility will accommodate a number of independent learning initiatives in close proximity as part of the village concept. This will be carried out through the expansion of the existing Mackay CQU campus, with the addition of a new schools Trade Training Centre which will be used by regional high schools and several Trade Training Facilities for the Central Queensland Institute of TAFE. Once completed this facility will assist the city in providing educational facilities for the expanding Mackay population.

With projects such as these in the pipeline, what does the future look like for FKG? “With the CSG industry on our doorstep we recognise our civil division will experience strong growth in the next 3 years,” said Mr Gardner. “When the construction industry was devastated by the GFC we saw it as an opportunity to diversify and prepare for the works in the Surat Basin by expanding our current workforce and purchasing major plant and equipment. This has put us in a good position for these works which are just starting to come to fruition.”

Indeed, with its structure of varied Divisions and strong company culture, FKG is well situated to take full advantage of all opportunities that may arise throughout Queensland and Eastern Australia. The company’s Managing Director Gary Gardner attributes the success of the group to the entire FKG team. The company plans to build on its history of successful outcomes and solid client, supplier, and community partnerships, and looks forward to a future of growth. While the company will continue to evolve and grow, Mr Gardner is confident that the firm’s underlying core values and family heritage will remain unwavered.

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’?

January 18, 2021, 9:13 PM AEDT