Getting It Right

The First Time

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-By Anne Lindert-Wentzell

No one wants to waste valuable time correcting mistakes, especially a competent business –particularly if those mistakes can’t be rectified. Avoiding problems with preparedness and insight at the onset of any project is paramount to a company’s success. Having the right attitude draws in clients and maintains a reputable name. Above all, clients want quality. This is what Monaco Hickey delivers.

Monaco Hickey adheres to the adage, “Measure twice, cut once,” if only because that’s the company’s own philosophy on any given project. It’s that philosophy that extends not only to the firm’s management team, but to subcontractors and employees as well. It’s this attitude and devotion to quality that has given Monaco Hickey repeat business.

“We’ve established a strong reputation. When we approach a client we haven’t worked for, they or their representatives would have often heard of us… our reputation is an important factor in approaching new clients,” says Mark Nathan, Monaco Hickey’s General Manager. “Quality control starts with the selection and employment of [qualified] people and spending time with those people, ensuring that the culture of the business is ingrained in them from the start… the attitude has to be right and they have to be committed to doing a great job.”

Established in 1994 by Joe Monaco and Patrick Hickey, the company has grown into a successful medium for the delivery of substantially complex and highly technical projects. Its focus is in the health care, research, manufacturing and pharmaceutical production sectors of the building industry – clean room technology, hospital environments and laboratories. Regarding the complexity of projects in these arenas, Mark maintains, “I think the industry defines complex… We see them as normal projects. However, what I think would be deemed complex is the very technical nature of the work we do,” adding that, “there’s a high degree of quality control… in pharmaceutical and laboratory work, that’s most applicable.”

With over a 25 year history, Probuild became a major shareholder of Monaco Hickey in 2010. This thriving national construction contractor holds a commanding financial position through a committed conservation approach to growth. Over the five years to June 2011, Probuild has grown by 20 per cent each year. It currently has a group turnover exceeding $950 million. Probuild’s investment in Monaco Hickey strengthens the company’s capabilities in the specialised areas of health, pharmaceutical and clean room construction. With this alliance, Monaco Hickey has grown its turnover to $60 million nationally. It’s a symbiotic relationship – Probuild provides significant resources and balance sheet strength while Monaco Hickey provides the expertise in technically complex projects.

One of Monaco Hickey’s most recent opportunities was being awarded the $120 million Monash New Horizons project for Monash University and CSIRO, (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), which will be completed in October 2012. The building is four levels of reinforced concrete enclosed with an iconic façade symbolising the highly technical research activities conducted inside. “Probuild hasn’t done as much work in the health and pharmaceutical areas, but there’s a real cultural alignment between us… This partnership allows us to take on larger projects,” says Mark. “It’s really helpful for us to lean on Probuild for any additional resources that may be required… Probuild is a large group who has some amazing, experienced, knowledgeable people.”

Another major project Monaco Hickey has just been awarded, to the tune of $45 million, is for the global biopharmaceutical company, CSL’s (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories), Privigen Facility in Broadmeadows, Victoria. Privigen is a liquid formulation of human immunoglobulin for intravenous administration used to treat cancer, bleeding disorders, inflammation and infection. It will be Victoria’s first large scale biotechnology facility. CSL’s Broadmeadows site presently houses state of the art manufacturing facilities. It will be part of a $250 million capital expenditure plan to upgrade facilities with 2013 is the expected completion date.

Certainly, any technically challenging project requires competent management skills. Mark reiterates, “In a pharmaceutical plant it has to be 100 per cent sterile, clean, and air pressures have to be maintained. That’s very challenging. We need to make sure we have the right people on the ground ensuring that the work is executed properly to the right level of quality.”

Additionally, last December, Monaco Hickey completed the new corporate headquarters of Baxter Healthcare in Sydney, at a cost of $22 million. The project consisted of both renovation and a new office block, along with the development of multi-tiered car parking. It was rigid logistical controls and careful planning that led to the completion of project targets within the allotted timeline. This project’s design achieved a 4 star Green Star rating.

Monaco Hickey has completed other projects involving housing, community and medical centres and universities, but, “It’s really health, research and pharmaceutical facilities that we specialise in,” adds Mark, recognising that there are always challenges to be met and problems to be foreseen, particularly in this specialisation. “You have to be proactive; look for problems before they become problems. You take a peripheral vision of the issues on a project, being perceptive and watching the environment.”

Mark describes the construction process in general as an exercise in problem solving. It begins from the day drawings are submitted and ends when keys and quality plans are given to the client. Yet, he adds, “I think that sometimes we’re surprised when things come out of left field and we didn’t expect them. This is where I think the experience, attitude and approach comes in… We need to be composed and open minded as to a solution to that problem. When you come to the client with a problem you should also come with a solution.” This is where creativity plays a role. “You have to be capable of realising a dream or vision the client may have.”

Probuild has won numerous awards for its projects from the Australian Institute of Architects and Master Builders for sustainable and interior architecture including excellence in construction. Of these awards Mark says, “You look at your age old construction triangle of time, cost and quality. Were you successful in each respective area of that? The best award is a happy client. If we can meet or exceed their expectations, that’s the best acknowledgement we could possibly have.”

Mark also maintains that the success of Monaco Hickey has much to do with commitment and reliability. “I think the traditional management process is match relative to the type of work. You have to make sure that people are committed… In the type of work we do, if you’re not 100 per cent on top of your management processes and quality control, then the potential for problems is very high. You don’t have the opportunity to go back and do it again. You have to get it right, the first time.”

Monaco Hickey’s projects come with another advantage – lessening the impact on the environment. Ecological Sustainable Development initiatives make the company a construction industry leader; each project incorporates an environmental management plan. “Recycling materials is very much a key factor,” says Mark. “We have arrangements for rubbish or waste management such as concrete recycling for road paves.”

Certainly, aspirations for the future are important to Monaco Hickey in the form of “controlled growth”, says Mark. This includes the youth who develop an interest in the industry. “An exciting concept is seeing the younger ones who have joined us recently and those who will join us in the future – watching them grow and develop into being the leaders of the business as we progress. That’s going to be the momentum of the business.”

Undeniably, complex projects require specific skill sets, which Monaco Hickey possesses. These skills evolve from knowledge and the exposure to a wide range of projects. It’s relevant to remember the mnemonic, “Poem” – Plan, Organize, Execute, Monitor and Control. This is applicable to all facets and management levels of any given project. “You have to maintain the commitment of the subcontractors,” emphasises Mark. “We want a sustained working relationship with our clients. They’re the most important… We have to make sure the client is happy.”

So, essentially, what makes the Monaco Hickey heart beat? “We’re engaged and excited about what we do. Not every day is a day in paradise,” says Mark, “but we love the industry, the relationships and the challenges it presents. That’s what helps us deliver projects successfully.” And certainly, in all facets of the construction industry, as with any business, the truth remains – it takes less time to do something right, than to explain why it was done wrong.

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, 9:31 AM AEST