The New Generation of Building

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-By Aleisha Parr

Since the GFC, Australian building companies have struggled to regain and maintain a foothold in the industry. While some companies have fallen to the wayside throughout this difficult stretch, others have used it as an opportunity to become more adept builders thus strengthening their companies. Such is the case for QLD construction company Tomkins Developments, a family orientated operation specialising in complex commercial projects. The company offers a full range of building services, from Project Management, Applications, Design and Construction, Refurbishment and Renovations through to Fitouts and Finishes, working across industrial, retail, commercial and residential sectors.

Director Mike Tomkins explains that not only has he led the company to continue to grow despite industry challenges and setbacks, but that these struggles have brought out the best in his staff. “To be driven you’ve got to create opportunities, they don’t just come to you, and that’s the focus of our company. We create the opportunities, we resolve the problems, and we deliver the solutions; it is all part of being a focussed and morally driven company. Being a survivor in the business at this moment when the times are tough I think brings the best out of good builders and enhances their ability to come up with creative solutions.”

Mike Tomkins strives to carry forward the Tomkins family name with pride. “Our family has sixty years of construction experience,” he says. “I am a third-generation builder. I think that’s important, because it is in our blood. Our last name inspires respect; and that carries down to our staff.”

Through this family-oriented corporate culture, Tomkins is able to nurture respect throughout the company which then naturally flows on to the customer via staff interactions. Subsequently, the company enjoys a high level of customer loyalty and a healthy flow of new customer referrals. “People in the industry acknowledge that we deliver a very good project and have the culture to back it,” says Mr Tomkins.

That high quality of work is achieved through intensive training and skills development systems established within the company. Some of Tomkins Developments’ employees have been working in the construction industry for fifty years plus, and therefore are able to share their expertise through mentoring opportunities, passing on age-old traditions through the company to the new employees and cadets who are consistently brought in to augment the team’s diverse skill sets.

“We’re all on the same playing field,” explains Mr Tomkins, “whether you’re a cadet, a labourer, a sub-contractor, or a project manager. We all have our own roles to play and titles to uphold, but when it comes down to our culture, we’ve got to have trust within our own organisation to enable architects and developers and clients to have that same feeling and trust. Building is not a contract, it’s a relationship.”

This equality and mutual respect is what helps Tomkins to rise above its contemporaries in this highly competitive construction market. The company prides itself on its ability to work closely with a broad range of customers including architects, developers and private clients to assist throughout the process in streamlining production activities to ensure that every project is successfully completed with minimal cost and maximum quality. Tomkins is keen to take on the most challenging of projects, seeking out unique and complex builds through which it channels its in-house expertise and go-to attitude. In particular, the company has a strong interest in heritage projects, which Mike Tomkins says benefit most from his seasoned employees’ traditional skills.

He explains that on a recent heritage restoration project for Sandgate Town Hall, the work was successful largely because of that expertise: “We had within our organisation fifty years’ worth of experience in traditional carpentry skills and knew what was required to get the Hall back to its original condition, even though the building methodology of the historical building was not well documented. However, with our staff expertise coupled with our strong working relationship with Brisbane City Council’s heritage architects, we achieved a very satisfying result.”

On another unique project completed recently by Tomkins, the company constructed an underground concrete bunker to be used by the Royal Women’s Hospital as a Radiation Therapy facility. Tomkins Developments have also constructed an aquatic centre for a North Lakes Swim School, which required not only an aesthetically pleasing design, but the implementation of impeccable safety standards and an overall vision to ensure ease of use of the site for end-users who would most frequently be young children. Mike Tomkins says that it is the challenge of working within such highly specialised industries on these types of projects which most excites the Tomkins staff.

Work carried out by Tomkins has not only excited its staff and customers, but also the Master Builders Association, with which the Tomkins family has been associated since 1968. Over the years, both the company and individual employees of Tomkins Development have been honoured with numerous MBA awards, including most recently an MBA Regional Award for Industrial Buildings up to $3 Million for work on Lot 6 Business Drive, Narangba (2008); an MBA Regional Award for Industrial Buildings $2 Million – $10 Million and an MBA State Award for Industrial Buildings $2 Million – $10 Million for work on Lot 8 Business Drive, Narangba (2007); and an MBA Regional Award for Industrial Buildings up to $2 Million and an MBA State Award for Industrial buildings up to $2 Million for work on Lot 4 457 Tufnell Road, Banyo (2006).

“The awards are good for our staff,” explains Mr Tomkins, “but the biggest reward that we enjoy is having a satisfied client at the end of the day, and the other reward is having our excellent staff who are committed to delivering those projects to our clients. That’s probably the best reward anyone can have in business – committed staff driven by strong moral principles.”

As the industry continues to open itself to new commercial construction opportunities, Mike Tomkins says so too will Tomkins Developments- both in its established sectors and through diversification into regional work throughout QLD. “Tomkins’ competitive edge is apparent in its notable portfolio of projects which vary significantly in scale, from a $10,000 fit-out to a $30+ million commercial design and construct. At the end of the day, Tomkins is in it for the long haul. With our corporate structure built now and a solid foundation, I think we’re in a position to keep growing and diversifying.”

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, 1:53 PM AEST