Quality Buildings, Quality People

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

From commercial development and construction to residential dwellings and renovations, industrial scaffolding and maintenance to civil contracting and plant hire, Mead Con has the skills, vision, and experience necessary to create quality construction projects and assist clients every step of the way.

“Working with clients from the inception of a project all the way through to completion is a service we’ve always offered, and one big difference between us and our competitors,” says Tim Mead, Managing Director at Mead Con. “It creates a good relationship base, and when you do well in this area, it gains you a lot of accolades, and a lot of future work coming forward. Many clients have a project in mind, and come to one-stop shops like Mead Con, where they can get all aspects handled – from planning and design, documentation, construction, right through to maintenance afterwards – and are happy with the result.”

At Mead Con, the company’s time-tested principles are honest and simple: work closely with clients to produce results that are delivered on budget, on time, and of superior workmanship. It is a credo that has served the company and its many clients exceedingly well since it was founded by Tim Mead and his wife Vonette, herself a Director and Manager of the company’s Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Systems. Prior to forming Mead Con, Tim worked as a self-employed carpenter and joiner, while Vonette took care of the bookkeeping. After many years in the business acquiring broad industry knowledge in commercial, residential, industrial, civil and other sectors, Tim and Vonette decided to form Mead Con in 2001, and continue to look toward the future.

“Back in those days, we started off with a gang of probably 12, and I was still on the tools at that stage,” says Tim. “In time, the company grew to 55 people – 11 foremen, eight people in the office, and the balance outside.” Today, the majority of the company’s work focuses on the North West coast of Tasmania, while about 10 per cent of its work is state-wide.

Importance of Training

As a young man learning his trade, Tim Mead recognised the role – and responsibility – employers have when it comes to training young people to not only learn the construction business, but make it their lifelong livelihood. Last year, Mead Con was acknowledged for its overwhelming commitment to training when it won the prestigious Tasmanian Training Award for Employer of the Year, which Tim credits to the company’s open door policies and Human Resource Manager, Debra Spillane. Working within the Human Resources sector and training for over 25 years, Ms Spillane is behind Mead Con’s apprenticeship programs, along with leadership initiatives, performance management, workplace coaching, strategic planning, industrial and employee relations, people development, and other key areas.

For Mead Con, the Tasmanian Training Award serves as an acknowledgement of the company’s unwavering commitment to ensure the ongoing development of its staff today, and the employees of tomorrow. In Tasmanian schools, Mead Con is recognised for conducting workshops geared toward young people interested in the building industry. “We are well-known for the training of our apprentices, to the point where students actually name us as their preferred work placement employer,” says Ms Spillane of the company, which had work placement students throughout all of 2011. “That shows you the level of commitment, not just from management, but from our supervisors and our tradespeople – they are the ones training these young people, taking them on every week. They take great pride and put a lot of effort into training and coaching others.”

Taking a positive, proactive approach towards hiring, Mead Con continues to be one of Tasmania’s most sought-after construction employers. For years, an issue facing many construction firms has been that a significant number of apprentices do not remain in the industry. Under Ms Spillane’s guidance, Mead Con altered its mindset on hiring and how to attract and retain the best employees. Students are rated for future apprenticeship employees, a Supervisor is brought in on the selection panel, and a detailed scoring and marking system determines how well the potential apprentices would operate under pressure, their personality, and other key areas. “Certainly we spend the most time recruiting apprentices for that very reason: because we want to retain them,” says Ms Spillane. “Once we implemented such a structured selection process, they tend not to leave to pursue different careers. They are staying, finishing off their time, and about half actually stay with us. It is very gratifying. Technical skills are very important, but just as important to us are the soft skills – the ability to work with other people, consistency, and some leadership, depending on the role they work in. We put just as much emphasis on searching for those soft skills as we do the technical skills.”

Along with a management strategy that provides for an open line of communication – all the way from an apprentice up to Tim Mead himself – the company motivates its employees and helps guide and inform their actions through its “Seven Critical Focus Areas,” which address industry best practice, building the Mead Con image, working together, working safely, maintaining internal wellbeing, continually evolving, and developing employees and systems. “These are relative values and guiding principles, so both employees and clients are aware of how we work, and what is important to us,” says Ms Spillane. “If you seem to be doing good things with your people, training them, and producing first-rate work, you gain happy clients, and the roll-down effect of that has been enormous for us. There’s a nice feeling in the community, among clients and staff, and it progresses.”

Mead Con’s training ethos is reflected in the recent achievements of two of the company’s brightest young tradespeople. Luke Quigley, now a trainee Project Manager/Estimator, not only won the 2010 Master Builder’s Tasmanian Apprentice of the Year, but went on to be awarded the National Apprentice of the Year. Josh Bartlett, who, like Luke, completed his Apprenticeship a year early, won the Tasmanian Master Builders Tasmanian Hands on Skills Apprentice of the Year in 2011. Tim is justifiably proud of their achievements: “They are both remarkable young men and will continue to develop, cementing their value to Mead Con and the construction industry.”

Wide Range of Capabilities

With the belief that good training makes for good employees, Mead Con has high morale among staff, which translates into a solid retention rate and highly qualified employees able to serve all clients in the commercial, residential, industrial, and civil sectors. From experienced building designers to skilled project managers, qualified carpenter/joiners, bricklayers and more, the Mead Con “can do” attitude comes across in superior workmanship and quality outcomes.

Accounting for about 60 per cent of the company’s business, commercial development and construction often sees Mead Con take on total projects – from original design and development through to construction, handover and maintenance. Along with enabling clients to realise their construction vision, commercial construction provides a greater range of challenges and a broader learning environment for employees as opposed to working strictly in one sector alone.

In residential dwellings and renovations, customer satisfaction is paramount. Able to liaise, plan, design and construct dwellings, the company takes pride in the superior quality of its work, and achieving customer satisfaction through ongoing lines of communication. To better serve clients, Mead Con owns and operates a variety of plant and machinery, and is able to provide a range of services in sectors such as civil contracting and plant hire. The company’s maintenance division allows Mead Con to perform ongoing maintenance for a number of large companies – everything from replacing a door handle to re-roofing an entire building. Additionally, the company is active in asbestos removal, which has become a significant part of its business.

Under the direction of Senior Project Manager and Estimator, Andrew Richardson, the Commercial and Residential sectors prosper. With his vast experience and knowledge in the building industry, Andrew, together with his team of Project Managers and Supervisors, ensures continual client satisfaction. Tim credits much of Mead Con’s success to Andrew’s abilities: “Not only has he worked in the building industry for over 30 years, he is also a qualified Building Designer,” says Tim. “That, coupled with his reputation for conducting himself with honesty and integrity makes him an extremely valuable asset to our business.”

Quality Projects

From schools to police stations, and residential dwellings to commercial projects, Mead Con puts its stamp of excellence on all projects. Last year, the company was a winner of the Master Builders Tasmania Excellence Awards for its work on the Ridgley Primary School. Under the guidance of Site Supervisor Matt Davey, the Mead Con team faced inclement snow and high winds on the project, which saw an extensive, complete internal redevelopment of the rural school. Along with a new extension – a multi-purpose hall, canteen and music room – many other rooms were transformed and redeveloped. The construction of the new hall involved timber portals with a soaring rolled section at the roof and wall junctions that required fabrication on site. Previously unknown asbestos tiles beneath the carpeted areas of the school were properly and safely removed for disposal, and asbestos monitoring throughout all stages was set in motion. Innovative laminated hardwood portals were fabricated by Tasmanian Timber Engineering, and set in place, while internal walls were redone and external walls constructed using a combination of express wall, coloured blocks, and Zincalume custom orb with aluminium composite panels. The result is a unique floor-to-ceiling cathedral-like wall of windows, which is simply stunning. This project, along with others like the Forth Primary School Performing Arts Centre, were carried out under the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution program.

The company continues to carry out numerous public sector projects, and recently started work on the new Devonport Police Station. Valued at $5.8 million, Mead Con has been entrusted with creating a modern and efficient police facility to replace the existing station, which is nearly 50 years old. Along with increased floor space, the new station will have an improved layout, access for the disabled and improved accommodation for visiting officers, and will feature environmentally friendly and sustainable initiatives such as high-performance double glazing, low-volume plumbing, hot water on demand systems, and zoned lighting and heating to conserve energy.

“The new Devonport Police Station is a high-profile job for us – in general, $6 million is a big job for the North West coast of Tasmania,” says Tim Mead. With high-profile projects such as this in the pipeline, its comprehensive training programs, and broad range of capabilities, Mead Con is certain to be serving the commercial, residential, industrial, and civil construction needs of Tasmania for decades to come – a true reflection of its company motto, “Together We Build.”

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, 12:36 PM AEST