Strength in Relationships

Quintessence

Quintessence Construction Management has a proven track record as a building company known for projects that are out of the ordinary. The company offers excellence in commercial fit out, refurbishment and construction, and many big names in retail and the corporate world depend on it to turn ideas into reality.

To encapsulate what Quintessence is all about, the company believes that: “Attention to detail is of paramount importance; after all, it is the finer details that take a project from ordinary to extraordinary.” Construction in Focus spoke with Quintessence’s Managing Director and Project Manager Arthur Magaitis.

Arthur, along with a friend, was working for another construction company prior to the formation of Quintessence. Feeling underappreciated and putting in around sixty hours each week, the two of them wanted to see if they could go it alone. In 1996, Arthur, with his Bachelor of Building in Construction Management (HONS), Construction from the University of Technology, Sydney, started Quintessence, which initially dealt in commercial fit outs. A month later, he brought his friend on board.

Quintessence is a small to medium sized firm but can take on as many as eight to ten projects at once, in part because it sub-contracts out a lot of work to trusted trades. “The complexity and style of project dictates how many projects we take on at any given time,” says Arthur. “We don’t like to stretch ourselves too thin. It’s all about quality and providing a great end product to the client.”

The company specialises in corporate interiors and higher end retail interiors. The last couple of years have seen work with such notable clients as women’s retail clothing outlet Cue Clothing Company. Quintessence has completed 50 projects for Cue and Veronika Maine; this strong relationship has raised its profile in the construction industry. Through this and other projects, the company has also been hired for work in corporate head offices – an area where its unique work is certainly appreciated.

Quintessence’s experience means the company actually has quite a bit of design input. The company maintains a group of architects and designers that it works with. “We can help with the concepts, but a lot of that design that’s really unique comes from what they do,” shares Arthur. The majority of the time, the architects Quintessence works with will have already designed the project or will come with a strong concept in hand, seeking solutions. “They will have their concept, they will have something done and we will work out a way to bring that to life and build it,” says Arthur. “Sometimes what they draw isn’t quite complete, so we have to manipulate that and work with them to get what they have envisaged into real life – into that model.”

Sometimes the architects or designers will come to the company with questions as to the workability of a project. Quintessence does not get fully involved in design because that takes a certain amount of expertise for which the architects are known, but it closely scrutinises the plans and makes revisions. There is always a bit of give and take with every project and the team’s combined passion, experience and creativity give an end product that is much appreciated by clients.

The prestigious 2013 Sydney Design Award for Best Commercial Interior showcased the talent employed by the company as two of its designers in the competition were from the Quintessence team. One project was the Facebook office by Siren Design and the winning project was the Lightspeed Research offices, designed by The Bold Collective, which Quintessence built. “It means that we have the best in the business,” says Arthur. Further proof of the quality of the company’s work can be seen in the book 21st Century Interiors, which looked at interior design from around the world. The two Australian interior projects that were featured were both done by Quintessence for two separate architects: Siren Design and Cullen Feng.

The quality of these end results has not only resulted in awards but in a lot of repeat business. Through Siren, Quintessence worked with the White Agency, a digital strategy, creativity and design company that was looking to rebrand and wanted a larger office space due to the need to expand operations. Siren Design and Quintessence worked together on the project, handling the design and the construction respectively. A strong relationship developed and Quintessence was called on to work on the White Agency’s second satellite office.

In the last year, the company has opened up its own development arm in residential developments. It undertook its first development three years ago, which was a boutique apartment complex in the affluent Sydney area of Bellevue Hill. These large three bedroom apartments comprise a basement, ground floor, middle floor, upper floor and an outdoor terrace loft. ”After that, I worked on a project for a friend of mine running and controlling 184 residential apartments in Arncliffe,” says Arthur. “We were building two towers. He was the developer on that one and he asked me to come on board as the project manager. Out of that grew the desire to realise that we could go a lot further than just three apartments.”

Having achieved that, the company has been researching the market and has recently acquired four separate sites that are all in different stages of design. One is a twenty-five apartment structure, another two consist of twenty each and the final one is a higher end product on the beach. “It’s just a little off the beach but with beach and ocean views. It is going to be the gem – twelve high end apartments consisting of three bedroom apartments and a four bedroom penthouse. The model is pretty open as to what we want to achieve. We have acquired the properties and are in the middle of designing the actual development itself on all four projects.”

Quintessence will be hiring on more project managers as needed for these projects; the company currently boasts a team of five full time project managers. The building is done through the hiring of project managers, contractors and administrators, and the actual building trades like electricians and joiners are then sub-contracted.

While the company will be maintaining and growing the development arm, the commercial arm is still its bread and butter. “It’s given us what we’ve got today. It’s given a livelihood to myself, my business partners and my staff. There is something to that,” emphasises Arthur. “You can’t turn your back on what has helped to give us some great relationships with clients, sub-contractors, designers and architects. It’s our baby which will always be a part of what we do.”

And the project managers are the glue that holds every job together. Everyone relies on the people in this high pressure position for answers, timing and pushing the project through to completion. They are there at the crack of dawn and are the last ones to go home. As a result, “Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and have a relaxing couple of weeks or just to mix up the projects. I find that a lot of project managers get burned out, so I will put them on a commercial project which can be a little easier to manage before getting them back to the residential ones. The boys in the office are our lifeline.”

Arthur believes in the bonding experience as a way to keep company morale and energy high. They typically go to lunch every day as a group and occasionally will go out sea fishing or diving. “Next weekend, I am taking them out to the racetrack; as a hobby, I do car racing. It’s a good way to let off some steam. Every year I put them in my car and take them for passenger laps. It’s kind of like a simulated race, and they really enjoy it!”

Arthur wants to make sure that he acknowledges the people behind the scenes: the contractors, workers and designers. “We are only as good as the weakest link, so they all play a big part in what we do and I would like to try and maintain those relationships. At the end of any project, we want to be able to say that it was defect free or perfectly executed, and that cannot happen without the team that we entrust with each project.”

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’?

January 17, 2019, 5:43 AM AEDT