A Reputation for Building Collaborative Partnerships


Over its 30-year history, Manteena has always been a customer focused company. It has been working on various initiatives in the Canberra area including commercial new builds and fitouts, educational, and major cultural institution projects, for both the private and public sectors. Over the last three decades, the company has cultivated a reputation for its ability to establish solid collaborative partnerships and safely complete quality work on time and on budget.

On the beautiful shore of Lake Burley Griffin, the NCA Commonwealth Place was built to be a place of beauty and significance. It is meant to be a meeting place for many people who love entertainment, socialising and enjoying scenery and beautiful architecture. The Amphitheatre is used for events, demonstrations, and concerts, while on the average weekday it’s a popular spot for play on the slopes for the busloads of school children visiting the National Capital.

Monitoring the magnificent project’s development was a construction management company called Manteena, whose purpose was to design building solutions that could be used on the project in keeping with the original visions of the principal client and architect. The trick to this enterprise comes in keeping to a strict budget and time parameters. With such large, delicate projects, the solutions offered by a firm such as Manteena are crucial for maintaining the integrity of the design while preventing egregious cost and time overruns.

An Evolving Business

Founded in the early ‘80s, Manteena focused on smaller scale commercial work, fitout and refurbishments and was contracted for numerous residential public housing projects. Over the next fifteen to twenty years, the company expanded its portfolio to include small and medium-sized institutional and government contracts. Throughout the ‘90s, the company grew considerably in size, both with respect to its staffing as well as the number of projects it takes on in a given year.

“It all coincided with an increase in the size of the projects which the company was undertaking,” states Mark Bauer, Director and General Manager of Manteena, “plus an increase in volume and a number of opportunities outside of the ACT, which helped us to grow during this period.”

Manteena has developed a strong reputation for its work on major national projects, such as the 100 million dollar New Entrance & 11 Indigenous Galleries at the National Gallery of Australia. “That was a project that we are very proud of,” Mr Bauer recalls. “It won an MBA ‘Project of the Year’ award a couple of years ago.” And with just one visit to the Gallery, it’s plainly obvious that this company aims for quality at every turn.

The company continues contracting on these types of projects, despite the limited opportunities currently within the ACT construction industry. Operations Manager, Rod Mitton notes, “we have the capacity to do more work than is on our books right now; turnover this year is significantly down from previous years due to the current economic circumstances within our industry.”

The real challenge for most companies in this sector is identifying new market niches in need of management assistance. Manteena has a real gift for finding these markets and stepping in. The company opened an operation in New Zealand to help rebuild following devastating earthquakes, while it also operates offices in Wollongong and Canberra.

Mr Mitton explains, “The market has changed significantly in the last five years, in that there are less project management style projects, which was probably our main source of work.” He adds that, “Today we are working mainly on a mixture of lump sum contracting and design & construct.”

To broaden its offering, Manteena maintains a number of distinct divisions within the company. One such branch is the security division, which works predominantly with clients on projects that require a degree of confidentiality or a higher level of security in any form. These projects include works such as embassies and diplomatic buildings, training facilities, security control centres and Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs).

Manteena completes projects for companies requiring a high level of security not only in Australia but internationally as well. The business has completed secure projects in over 25 countries over the last five years for a number of Australian government agencies. The company also has a minor works division, which works on smaller projects valued under five million dollars.

At the heart of Manteena’s service delivery is an ability to understand its clients’ needs and to implement solutions throughout the project to bring the client’s dream to fruition. Mr Bauer explains, “We are focused on building a collaborative relationship with our clients in order to produce good experiences, rather than approaching the job merely as a transaction between builder and client.” He continues, “The lasting memory is not only about the quality of the product; but, the way in which the project was delivered is also remembered.”

The stellar customer service Manteena provides its clients has also cultivated a growing list of satisfied customers through word-of-mouth along with a considerable amount of repeat business. By tailoring its services to suit each client individually, the company is able to successfully deliver quality results.

Company Culture

With continued growth also comes continued opportunity for internal staff to move within the business. In finding new opportunities and markets that inspire growth, the company is able to create more promotion opportunities for its employees. Indeed, there is scarcely any better training for an employee than a shift to a different project experience and a change of scenery, and at Manteena, employees are given the opportunity to broaden their horizons.

Customer service plays a pivotal role in Manteena’s success. “Everybody in the company has a role to play to promote the business,” shares Mr Bauer. “Whether it is to a subcontractor who is working for us, a consultant engaged by our client, a supplier delivering materials to one of our sites, or the client. We are all about reinforcing a positive relationship.”

Currently Manteena is managing a number of diverse projects including: art galleries; schools; re-roofing a major sports stadium; and a major suburban emergency service centre that will provide ambulance and fire and rescue services to North West Canberra. The new combined Charnwood Fire and Ambulance Station, being delivered using a GC21 contract, continues to demonstrate Manteena’s successful approach of working in collaboration with its clients. The project has no less than five key stakeholders plus the architect invested at any one time in the decision making process.

“It really has been a great project to work on,” says Mr Mitton. “Both clients [fire and ambulance], the government directorate representative, superintendent and the architect have all embraced managing the contract in the spirit of putting forward the best interests of the project,” he adds.

It’s an approach that is firmly embodied within Manteena and it pays dividends.

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, 12:37 AM AEST