The Finished Product

Jacaranda Industries

Jacaranda is a proven entity within the fields of commercial joinery and fit out as well as specialised finishes. We spoke with Director John Giles and Head of Marketing and Culture Rita Koritsas about this unique business, some projects the team has worked on, and what the future has in store.

John Giles started Jacaranda Industries nine years ago with two business partners – Jacaranda’s Finance Manager Andrew Southwood and Project Manager Andrew Tinetti (as well as, for the first three years, a silent business partner). All previously worked with an A-1 builder and brought their experience from the high end of the commercial building industry as they went out on their own to form a shopfitting company. For the first four years of its existence the company worked out of a 750 square metre building, but the business soon evolved to include three lines: commercial joinery, fit outs and specialised finishes. A larger space was needed to accommodate this expansion, a space which the company occupies to this day.

A fit out designs and completes the raw space of a new or existing building to the requirements of the occupants. This may include electrical, mechanical and environmental requirements, specified interior partitions, as well as floor, wall and ceiling finishes. Many times, however, the job can simply be a refurbishment. Jacaranda applies finishes which can include anything from ceilings to carpet to furniture, and so forth. “We specialise in structures that have been finished,” explains Mr Giles. “Then a client will temporarily move out or to another floor while we do their offices for them. We strip out the carpet, put in ceilings etc.”

On the joinery side of the business, Jacaranda works with everything from wall panelling finishes to cupboards, to bathroom vanity units. “It is all to do with the commercial side of the industry. If you walk into a typical office building with a large reception counter – we would do that. Or a meeting room with a big bar unit and acoustic wall panelling on the side. We use all sorts of different materials, not just the traditional wooden joinery.” While these elements are still classed as joinery, the company now works with a wide range of architect specified finishes.

A shining example of the kind of work that can be produced in a complex fit out is the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). The new Swanston Academic Building was completed in summer of 2012 by Brookfield Multiplex, while Jacaranda worked on the interior finishes. “We picked up the package called specialised wall and ceiling finishes,” Mr Giles explains. “There were press metal ceilings, two pack panelling, acoustic panelling, veneer panelling, and plywood panelling. Just a heap of different materials in different forms that allowed this building to create an unusual set of shapes and dimensions that probably have never been seen before in Melbourne in that volume.” This was a very complex fit out but with spectacularly beautiful results.

The Swanston Academic Building showcases the diversity in modern Melbourne architecture and is certain to win awards. It has “pushed the boundaries of this new look, especially within the education sector. It is a pioneering effort that could produce a new movement or trend in architecture. Other buildings with these types of designs have such a uniqueness and individuality. It is a different product.”

Another key project of Jacaranda’s is the recently completed Royal Children’s Hospital which has become an iconic building in Melbourne. The finishes Jacaranda installed in the Starlight Playroom are spectacular and the building has changed the way that the public and children interact within a hospital environment. “We have, for example, fish tanks on the bottom floor which is just an incredible mindset on what you can do to create a building that’s got life inherent within.”

Like these, every project begins with the design. Once the project is awarded to Jacaranda, the team engages in in-depth discussions with the designer. Once it is understood what can realistically be achieved, samples are provided and the project begins. Jacaranda works with many different designers at different stages of the design process with some clients hiring the company on once the project has been completed to participate in the end result. The company is continuously working with diverse people and products and its ability to adapt is reflected in the quality of all its finished work.

Though much of Jacaranda’s business currently comes via word of mouth, Mr Giles says that, “We will be vying for awards in the future. As of yet we have not ventured into this aspect of things. We recognise that awards are necessary to be recognised in the association and we are waiting down the road for a real opportunity – we are simply biding our time.” Jacaranda also stays on top of industry developments through the use of an external marketing professional who conducts regular reviews of the market to determine how Jacaranda can best meet evolving client needs.

In the fit out industry, every project is unique. With repetition one knows what to expect but when every job is a “one-off,” each project presents new challenges. Jacaranda sees this as a positive. “It’s our ability to not be overwrought by that challenge which gives us our major competitive edge. We like that opportunity, whereas a lot of our competitors want to sit with what they know. When dealing with uniqueness and complexity, risk and opportunity are tabled. And I like to take a risk because it creates opportunity, where others are more reserved and stick to what they know because it has a lower risk and lower opportunity.”

The company does aim to minimise risk in other areas; maintaining the flexibility to work in diverse areas, for instance, keeps the business going strong even when activity in one area slows. “I’m confident that our future is bright from that point of view,” says Mr Giles. “We have about three or four different avenues that we multi-service. The retail sector and shop market is down presently, so we are not doing a lot of that work, but if that trend changes then we actually have the capacity and ability to move in and provide that service. I’m not putting all of my eggs into one basket within that industry. We are prepared for what’s coming up and shopfitting is an example of our diversity.”

Indeed, Jacaranda has come from turning over approximately $600,000 per year to around $25 million per year at present. The company is based predominantly on the SE coast of Australia and is planning for continued growth within that area before expanding elsewhere. Expansion is being undertaken carefully to ensure that the company is not overextending itself. “In the short term future, I would say that we are trying to increase our network within that area before we take it any further.”

In only nine years this young company has grown into one of the industry’s best and brightest. A versatile company that is always ready to tackle new challenges, Jacaranda Industries transforms ideas into stunning and unique interiors.

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March 28, 2020, 8:46 PM AEDT