Thinking Outside of the Square

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-By Aleisha Parr

When government agencies and esteemed private clients have a tough job to tackle across Sydney, the Central Coast or rural New South Wales, CC Pines Pty Ltd is often the head contract construction company they call first. Not only does CC Pines offer a variety of standard Design and Construct or Construct Only services, but it does so in a way which frequently saves its clients both time and money, while also upholding stellar safety standards.

“We like to pride ourselves on thinking outside the square,” CC Pines’ Project Director, Ben Pines, explains. “So if someone tells us how to do it we’ll think of another way, a better way. We take on a lot of unique or interesting jobs that others probably wouldn’t.”

For example, on a project which CC Pines is currently undertaking for the Department of Defence, the company has been tasked with building a climbing tower for use in training drills. The Department of Defence gave instructions to CC Pines as to how the tower – which is the largest man-made climbing tower in the southern hemisphere – should be constructed. The design team for CC Pines took those instructions back and were able to offer the Department of Defence a new modular design for the tower, which not only saved time in construction (which we all know means money), but was also safer for the construction crew.

Other notable projects recently completed by CC Pines include a Cable Car ride at the Taronga Zoo in Mosman NSW; explosives storehouses, built to hold “high-security” weapons which the US was supplying to Australia; armouries; various missile testing area upgrades; fuel farm upgrades; mine detection fields; and various civil projects including anything from car parks through to firing range upgrades. In terms of projects, what sets CC Pines apart is not a tight specialisation, but rather an ability to successfully complete projects which set its clients apart.

For Mr Pines, this level of directed creativity comes naturally. His father, Chris Pines, established the company back in 1977 to answer to the need for quality government contract work in the area. His son joined his side in 2001, and together they have grown the business exponentially. The company, which grew steadily under Chris Pines’ broad focus on Government projects now typically services clients in the Defence sector, though also sees a significant portion of work coming in from the Department of Meteorology as well as other government and government-related clients. “As opportunities came up,” says Chris Pines, “we got the right accreditations and certifications to focus in defence work and that put us into a bit of a niche.”

The market at the moment, says Mr Pines, is quite flat, though CC Pines is doing remarkably well at holding its own. “There are a lot of people competing for a smaller amount of jobs,” he admits. “We’re winning them because we’re a little bit unique.”

Not only is CC Pines unique in its diverse range of offerings and expertise, but also in the fact that it is certified through the Australian Federal Safety Commission, an extra assurance for clients which not many mid-range contract construction companies offer. CC Pines is also accredited under the Australian Government Building and Construction Occupational Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme (FSC), and maintains an Integrated Management System which encompasses all of its Quality Assurance, OH&S and Environmental Management practices. CC Pines runs an internal auditing process on a monthly basis, ensuring field compliance with the procedures outlined in its Management System, which auditors have lauded as being a “flawless system.”

“We saw that that was an important thing when we first heard about it,” explains Mr Pines, of the CC Pines auditing process. “It’s been developed from continual improvement and the extra effort that we’ve put into it has been fairly easy because it improves us as a company. We developed that system for us, not for the auditor, so it just makes business a lot easier – we can sleep at night.”

Further to this, CC Pines strives to offer its clients a strong personal relationship nurtured through direct communication with Project Directors and dedicated, passionate staff.

“We always put a director in front of our clients, and the access all the way up is really quite easy for them as a client.” Mr Pines explains that the family-operated company focusses on this in order to ensure that its business relationships and all client interactions throughout each project continue to be pleasant and productive. “If you go to a meeting and everyone is friendly and there is no aggression, it makes it much nicer to do business. So we focus on trying to get that culture of work with good people.”

“We find that by offering that service,” he continues, “the next time we tender on a job for that client they know the level of service [we offer] which someone else may not be providing. That then means that we can win a job not on price, but on our documentation and what we do for our clients, and that’s a really comforting thing. When it’s like that we tend to offer our client more because there is more to give.”

These healthy relationships also extend on through to the subcontractors CC Pines works with. “One of the things we pride ourselves on as a company is our honesty, integrity, and quick payments with subcontractors. Those subcontractors are key to our business’ growth.”

CC Pines also offers a wide variety of internal initiatives to help establish that same level of open communication and to nurture each worker’s creativity and expertise. Ben Pines has a strong focus on work-life balance, which he helps to instil in the staff at CC Pines through offering a free gym pass to each worker and through organising numerous staff social events. Furthermore, all internal and external training is offered without limit to the entire staff, and the company has organised a strong profit sharing arrangement in the form of bonuses, which Mr Pines says really helps to motivate his staff.

“A healthy body means a healthy mind; that’s a real focus of mine,” says Mr Pines. “You’ve also got to have a good work-life balance. To us it is important because you spend a lot of time with these people, you might as well enjoy it.”

Heading into the next few years, Ben Pines says that it will likely be a period of consolidation, enjoying the stability and security established through a long period of growth and continual improvement both on the part of the management team and all of the staff at CC Pines. “As a group we’d like to develop relationships and have steady growth across our current and future markets. We’ve got plenty going on, and we’ve got plenty of opportunities.”

He does suggest that the company may look toward new markets, specifically the hot topic areas of alternative power generation. But the main focus will always be on strengthening the existing relationships which have brought CC Pines to where it is today.

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’?

September 27, 2020, 5:17 AM AEST