From Construction to Client Care

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

With a wealth of construction experience in a variety of sectors including commercial, residential, retail, health, aged care and education, Walton Construction’s Managing Director describes his company as opportunistic – in the best meaning of the word.

“We’re “˜opportunistic’ in the sense that we ask, “˜where is the economy at the moment?’ and “˜what do our clients need?'” says Craig Walton. “If somebody comes to us and says they want a factory, then we can build a factory. If someone approaches us and says they want a school, we are expert school builders.”

Prior to establishing the company bearing his name, Mr Walton worked for a number of construction firms, including Lend Lease and Multiplex. With years of related building experience, he realised a new type of firm was needed, combining construction and project management, providing developers practical planning advice, achieving superior results, and adhering to the financial requirements of the project. In 1993, Walton Construction was created. Headquartered in Melbourne, the company has grown in under 20 years to include offices in Sydney and Brisbane as well as work in South Australia. With a combined staff of 300, Walton Construction today takes on projects over $100 million in diverse areas of Australia.

With a core of highly experienced senior staff members, Walton Construction has the necessary knowledge and skill sets to take on projects across all industry sectors, including design-stage planning advice, commercial construction and interior fit out, and post-construction maintenance and refurbishment as well as facility management.

Striving for positive, proactive working relationships with all project stakeholders – including developers, architects, landscapers and its own sub-contractors – Walton Construction ensures the needs of its clients are appreciated and understood in order to create high-quality projects that exceed expectations, and are produced on time and on budget.

Over the years, Walton Construction has been responsible for many successful projects. Some, like the Cleveland North Mall, involved the erection of a roof over the open aired Stockland Shopping Mall. Faced with the challenge of the mall remaining fully operational and open to the public during trading hours, the company was able to complete the work at night. Work for St Columba’s School similarly had to be carried out while the school remained open and in operation. For a large project in New South Wales, the company created a unique mining training and support centre. Constructed to represent a real mine with real underground conditions, the training centre is a complex collection of tunnels, mazes and ramps used as a mine shaft simulator to prepare workers for ledge fall hazards, overhead rock falls, gas leaks, fire and flooding.

With the skilled staff, experience and capacity, Walton Construction has the ability to take on projects under both traditional and non-traditional forms of contract, including tendered lump sum, construction management, property development, or design and construction. Many long term repeat clients will often call upon the company for negotiated contracts with the goal of achieving the best possible outcome for their project by involving Walton Construction in the planning process as early as possible.

“The majority of our projects that we tender come from architectural or project management firms who we’ve worked with before for different clients,” says Mr Walton. In one recent instance, for example, the company was recommended by an architect working on a number of school projects. “It’s more about who we are, and we are known in the marketplace.”

The company’s reputation for excellence – along with its ability to offer clients a wide-ranging variety of professional design, construction, planning, project management and other key services – has earned Walton Construction considerable new and repeat business. In today’s increasingly competitive world, being flexible and accommodating to the needs of clients and the marketplace is crucial. One of the main factors to ensure success, says Mr Walton, is planning, and viewing projects as a whole rather than an assemblage of parts. Long before the ground is broken and the foundation is poured, there is a need to strategise the job in its entirety and look at all areas, from pre-planning to completion. For Walton Construction’s many clients, it is this “whole-of-project focus” that makes the company the contractor of choice in residential, education, health, finance, retail, hospitality, and other sectors. At present, the company is actively working on a number of property developments. “We’re working with a developer, and we’re actually taking on the role of Development Manager,” says Mr Walton. For the client, the company will not only take on the role of seeking out and employing consultant teams, but will also deal with tenant planning issues, securing permits, and undertaking construction of the building. “We can offer all services in management in the different states.”

Over the years, Walton Construction has undertaken a considerable number of design and construct projects for clients as varied as retail chains Woolworths and David Jones to schools created under Building the Education Revolution (BER) and mining camps in remote Queensland. A key component of the Australian Government’s recent $42 billion Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan, some $16.2 billion was allocated towards funding 24,000 much-needed school projects, including new infrastructure and refurbishments. “We did a number of design and construct projects for Queensland schools under the BER program,” comments Mr Walton. “From that point of view, we partner or engage with design companies so that under our banner, we contract the Design and Construct contracts – that in itself is a service – and then we do lump sum construction management type work.”

At Walton Construction, the company takes pride in being able to provide hands-on assistance in a number of areas. By becoming involved in the process early on, clients can benefit from sound architectural design advice. Sometimes implementing small design changes early in the process can save clients a considerable amount of money and time, which is why Walton encourages customers to take advantage of the company’s years of experience. By being involved in the project at the planning stages, Walton can not only assist with design details, but provide valuable advice on the early procurement of long lead-time items to improve critical path management, along with helpful commentary on current market trends in constructability and material selection.

Underpinned by a strong value system and philosophy that encompasses understanding the needs of clients and stakeholders, Walton Construction holds a number of qualifications and certifications. These include Quality Management Systems certified to AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008, Environmental Management Systems certified to AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004, Safety Management Systems certified to AS/NZS 4801:2001, and other relevant accreditations. In addition to being prequalified with the Queensland Government, the Department of Infrastructure, and the Department of Transport, Walton Construction maintains industry memberships with such prestigious organisations as the Australian Institute of Building, Master Builders Association (Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland), Aged Care Association Australia, Aged Care Queensland, and the Green Building Council of Australia.

Throughout the years, Walton Construction has been recognised for the high calibre of its work by a number of institutions. Recognised as one of Australia’s fastest-growing companies, Walton has been identified as one of Australia’s top 500 private companies by BRW magazine. “It’s nice to be there,” says Mr Walton. “It shows that as a company, you have size and substance.” The company has received numerous awards from the Master Builders Association for Excellence in Construction and Excellence in Health and Safety, from the Australian Institute of Building, and many other accolades for a range of projects including schools (Northern Beaches Christian School, Terry Hills), retail projects (Collingwood Park Woolworths Shopping Centre), health and education (AICHS Medical Centre), aged care ( Blue Care Labrador Gardens Aged Care Facility), sporting facilities (Sheldon College Sports Stadium), commercial buildings, housing projects, and residential projects.

The company’s greatest acknowledgement, however, remains its growth. With three-quarters of its business coming from satisfied repeat customers, Walton Construction is pleased with the endorsement, one which validates for existing and new clients the value that comes from dealing with Walton, and its ongoing commitment to highest quality on-time and on-budget projects.

Able to handle projects of all sizes, Walton Construction is able to deliver construction scheduling and subcontractor management which is second to none. From fit outs for offices, industrial facilities, schools and universities, health facilities, and exterior and interior building refurbishment, the company has the skills and experience necessary to handle any construction project. No job is too small, and the company has divisions specifically designed to handle smaller jobs. Specialising in maintenance, small construction and fit out works, Walton’s Customer Care and Small Works division serves to assist clients and bridge the gap for the company between larger projects. An on-demand service, trained staff in Customer Care vans are available 24 hours a day to perform a variety of small jobs such as lock repairs all the way to office add-ons, extensions and relocations, with the capacity to provide regular, full-scale building maintenance for management.

“We’re quite diversified in that area,” says Mr Walton. “We undertake maintenance work for clients. The division was an entity set up to service projects after we’d finished and left, but the customer still wanted bits and pieces done, or small maintenance work.” Under the division, fit out jobs range from approximately $50,000 up to $10 million. For retailer ALDI and its showrooms (ALDI Supermarkets), for example, the company is often called in to perform small but important tasks, such as repairing a dent in a post, or replacing broken tiles in the display area.

No matter the size of the job, Walton Construction remains committed to providing all customers with the finest quality service possible. “Most clients choose us because we are genuine in what we are trying to do,” says Mr Walton. “We genuinely try to work at what they need, what they want, and try to find solutions for them. Where we get the opportunity, we put a lot of effort into working with the designers to come up with solutions to make buildings more buildable or more economical. Sometimes you don’t get that opportunity, but when you get involved early enough in the project, you can help by offering construction knowledge of what’s working best at the moment. We can go to the designers and say, “˜This concrete solution will be better,’ or “˜Do you realise if you move all of these columns to these other locations, you’ll save of cost in transfer beams?’ The genuine effort to improve the outcome for all clients is our priority.”

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, 6:09 AM AEST