Relationships Are What We Build

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-By Aleisha Parr

Gavin Construction was first established in WA by two brothers whose “pride of workmanship and sense of humour” provided the cornerstone of the business. More than forty years later, that same spirit is clearly evident in the approach of this commercial and industrial construction specialist company, headed now by the second generation, Sean Gavin, Managing Director.

“We’ve certainly got tenure in the marketplace,” says Mr Gavin proudly. “With that comes a higher level of skills knowledge and experience that we are known for bringing to the marketplace.”

The Perth-based building and construction company meets a broad range of needs for its diverse clientele, with projects ranging from shopping centres, hospitals and medical centres, schools and education sector buildings, and hospitality sector projects, to industrial buildings and distribution warehouses. As a full-service company, Gavin Constructions has been involved in numerous prestigious projects, lending to its strong reputation within the industry.

This much becomes evident about five minutes into our interview, when the distinct sound of a quacking duck can be heard in the background of Mr Gavin’s office. Although unexpected, the event – which Mr Gavin laughingly explained was his messaging ringtone – served to illustrate perhaps the most appealing aspect of this tightly knit family company: its sense of humour.

“The construction industry is a tough business and there are tough decisions and conversations that happen all the time,” Mr Gavin explains. “Being able to temper that with humour when appropriate is important. I think that in terms of our team here, our subcontractors, and also our clients, we need to be able to enjoy what we’re doing and being passionate about our work is one of the secrets to being good at it.”

He continues to explain that through the history of Gavin Construction, those values have been upheld, ensuring that both tenets of the original cornerstone of the business continue to guide the company in a direction that is not only personally but professionally rewarding. “It’s all about family values. Even though we’re not a small family business any more, the culture within the business is very much about family and there are a lot of traditions that we uphold within the business which reinforce the fabric of a family business on a day to day basis.

“Relationships are what we build. Buildings are the outcome of having strong, solid relationships amongst ourselves, with our clients, and with our suppliers and subcontractors.”

Indeed, throughout the award-winning work carried out by Gavin Construction, relationships emerge repeatedly as a clear theme for the company’s continued success. In particular, Mr Gavin states that the company has nurtured relationships with professional industry organisations such as the Master Builders Association, thereby helping not only to enhance its own strength within the industry but also to support the quality of that industry itself.

“We’ve got a strong relationship with the Master Builder’s Association and I think they‘re a fantastic voice for builders in the industry. With the number of challenges and changes within the industry, it would be much harder to be able to navigate our way through on a year to year basis without [an organisation] like the MBA there to advise and assist.”

Of course, like attracts like, and the value which Sean Gavin attributes to the MBA is clearly reciprocal, as evidenced by the numerous awards accumulated over the years by Gavin Construction. Most recently, the firm was awarded the MBA Certificate of Excellence for both Education Under $5 Million in 2011 and Industrial Under $10 Million in 2010, as well as awards from the Building Designers Association for Industrial Buildings in 2010 and for Public Buildings in 2008.

“We’re proud of the number of awards that we’ve received over the years and I think that speaks to the level of passion that our team has shown with the projects that we’ve put forward.”

Perhaps most gratifying for the company was the MBA Certificate of Excellence for Education Under $5 Million it received in 2011. As Mr Gavin explains, the competition was tighter than perhaps ever before, with more than one thousand schools being built that year as part of the Government’s BER stimulus funding.

“For us that was particularly gratifying because – apart from having a strong design which the architects provided – there were over a thousand schools built through the BER in that particular year and I think that particular category was probably the most competitive that it has ever been in the history of the awards. So, to receive best in that category we were extremely proud of our team and I think that was a credit to the architects who designed and documented the building through to our team in the office and onsite, and to our suppliers and subcontractors as well.”

Despite this extraordinary recognition, where Gavin Constructions truly shines within the industry is in its focus on business facility projects, which have been on the rise recently due to a number of factors at play including the tumultuous economy and a shift from bricks and mortar operations to online sales. “One of the changes that we’ve seen in the marketplace at the moment,” says Mr Gavin, “is a growing need for distribution centres and a lot of this is being driven by the online revolution and purchases as consumers are shifting their buying habits to online purchases. So we’ve seen a stronger enquiry for that type of facility and less of a focus on retail.”

Sean Gavin asserts that his company is uniquely able to meet these demands due to its strong industry reputation for facilitating end-to-end solutions through its in-house design and documentation team as well as its external architectural relationships.

At present, the company has just recently completed work on its largest distribution centre, a new forty thousand square metre facility purpose-built for Coca Cola-Amatil. The massive project involved construction of a regional head office and distribution centre for Coca Cola-Amatil, and featured a high specification corporate office and state of the art warehousing facility, staff amenities, extensive parking and hardstand areas – and was completed in a mere ten months.

“One of the key focusses on that project was to improve the efficiencies of their distribution network. With our design and the layout of that building, we were able to achieve savings for them in terms of their distribution which is becoming important for the foremost businesses.”

Not one to ever rest on its laurels, the company is currently at work pushing new boundaries through its work on WA’s first Five Star Green Star industrial building. The ten million dollar project, based in Karratha, will again be capitalising on Gavin Construction’s specialty niche of distribution centre construction, but due to its lofty environmental ambitions will be a milestone for the company, the client and indeed, the state.

The passion and dedication – not to mention the unique skills and talents – required to undertake such an ambitious project is truly what sets Gavin Construction apart within the industry, and will be what ensures its continued success. Despite the uncertain economy, Sean Gavin says that the company is beginning to see the traditional business market start to strengthen. What he does question, however, is the sustainability of that market strength.

Ultimately though, Gavin Constructions has built for itself a stronger niche than any specialty or expertise alone can afford – one based on quality connections and proven success.

“We build relationships,” concludes Mr Gavin. “That’s fundamentally what goes throughout our business with our team, that’s what people are investing in us to provide to build their vision. They’re investing in our team and the relationships that we have nurtured internally and also externally with our suppliers and subcontractors.”

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’?

June 14, 2021, 11:48 AM AEST