Forward Facing

Pascale Construction

The origins of the company lay in a commercial bricklaying business founded when Fred ventured into the industrial field in 1982. He wanted to make a mark in the industry and “be recognised for good professional workmanship,” he explains. The first three years were harder work than he had expected, “but we persevered, took another look at the way we did things and ran the business and in the end we started to see some real return. It was a steep learning curve.”

The construction company evolved during the mid-1990s following the national recession and involved Pascale moving with the times as pre-cast and tilt panel designs began to replace a lot of work that had previously been carried out in brick or blockwork. Fred recognised that diversification was needed so he decided to get into residential construction, followed by small commercial jobs around the Adelaide area, taking on more staff as success followed success.

Pascale Construction is still very much a family-run business although today it employs more than fifty people – directors, project managers, contract administrators, site managers, health and safety administrators, estimators and, of course, bricklayers. This latter activity is now being run as a division of Pascale Construction. “In the last four or five years the amount of brickwork in new projects has been increasing again compared to what it was ten years ago.” People are going back to traditional finishes “but also cost has a lot to do with it.”

As to the type of construction work the company carries out, “we try not to pigeon-hole ourselves.” The company does a lot of commercial and educational work as well as high-end residential projects. In the early days, Fred recalls, there was sometimes a “leap of faith” involved in winning some of the company’s more significant projects, especially in areas where they lacked a proven track record.

However, in the last decade or more, the list of successful projects has made it easier to convince clients and a lot of the work comes via word of mouth as the company’s reputation has grown. “We are now able to focus on clients and architects who are involved in the more complex projects” which – a little ironically – means they come full circle into having to prove themselves again, this time at a higher level. “This time it’s not quite such a leap of faith -we do have a track record and of course we have substantial resources behind us now as well as financial capability.”

Fred and fellow Director Richard Zanchetta are still very much hands-on in all day to day operations, which they regard as a further benefit for clients. “We are only a phone call away from any client we work with; we pride ourselves on this as a point of difference from other companies in this sector.”

Pascale Construction specialises in “projects of unique complexity, which often require unwavering attention to detail and, consequently, a substantial commitment in time and hands-on effort.” So the company seeks out the more demanding and complex jobs? “Not sure if we go looking for them, more like they seek us out,” says Fred. “In fact we are very happy about it because it is these more unusual projects that define us as a builder with unique capability, showing that we are capable of doing these unique jobs.” Examples include the iconic Gateway to Adelaide, the Adelaide Zoo giant panda exhibit, St Ignatius Chapel, the western grandstand of the Adelaide Oval and the James Brown Memorial Trust affordable housing project (please see sidebars for further details).

Last year saw not just the company’s 30th anniversary, which was celebrated with due enthusiasm, but also a new website and a rebranding of the entire operation. “We decided that the company should, in effect, re-invent itself and out itself in an optimum situation to go forward into the future.” The new emphasis has clarified the focus. “We are saying to the world that we are a builder who builds relationships. We have set as a goal to grow the business via the size and complexity of the projects we take on. So far we have looked at projects up to a ceiling of $10 million but we are looking to expand that and have put in an internal strategy to achieve that. We have a team that can cater for this type of more complex and larger projects and we intend to make our mark in that sector in the Adelaide market.”

But, Fred stresses, there is no sense that the company will leave its roots behind – quite the reverse. It will still be delighted to welcome back existing clients in the current smaller sphere and will continue to work with them on the ‘old’ highly personal basis. “But we aim to be flexible enough to work on $15 million projects as well and at the same time.” Fred is confident the market will improve substantially over the coming year or so and “we are prepared and ready to embrace that and take maximum advantage of it.”

It’s an up-and-down business but Fred and Richard have seen quite a lot of the industry’s peaks and troughs and both sincerely believe “the market is slowly turning. It won’t be a rapid change but we are positioning ourselves to take advantage of that gradual change and we are being realistic about it.”

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 2, 2020, 2:45 PM AEST