Luxury Building Guided by Passion

Shangri-La Construction

In 2012, Shangri-La Construction received BRW’s Fast Starter award, with a number one ranking in the construction category. The award, designed to recognise the nation’s fastest growing, most successful start-up companies, represents not only the attention to detail the company devotes to each of its luxury building projects, but also the time and attention given to meeting the needs of each and every client in an authentic, personal way.

Between its founding in 2008 and the time the company received the award, Shangri-La had already experienced incredible growth in Australia’s competitive construction industry, and since then has continued to experience record growth, both in profit and number of completed projects, with another expected doubling this year.

Obaid Naqebullah, co-founder of Shangri-La with Larry Kestelman and the company’s Managing Director, reflects on what the company has been able to achieve in such a short amount of time. “Certainly we’ve gone through tremendous growth with $128 million worth of construction completed in the last five years,” he says.

With its base in Melbourne, Shangri-La Construction provides high-end homes to its clients, with a focus on architecturally designed projects including large homes, multi-unit sites, apartments, and innovative commercial offices.

In part, the company’s success can be traced to the team’s ability and eagerness to adapt to meet the needs of the ever-evolving marketplace in Melbourne, as well as the steps taken to diversify the company’s offerings for clients. In order to remain relevant, Shangri-La refuses to focus on just one single market area or style, instead providing the unique homes and structures that clients demand. In the past, the company has built massive luxury mansion style homes and architecturally designed apartments in the Bayside area, but today, the company predominantly designs and builds apartments with basements in response to market demand.
“The capabilities are there that we can do everything from luxurious mansions to luxurious apartments, but we go with the flow to meet the demand of the market,” says Mr Naqebullah. He recognises the importance of staying current by adapting to the current market situation and client requirements within the procedures, processes, and systems of the business.

Moving forward, Mr Naqebullah is excited about a project which will soon begin construction. “We have got something very amazing, which I believe is the next step for Shangri-la,” he shares. The Gisele project at 300 Toorak Road, South Yarra, will be an incredible complex incorporating cutting edge design, materials, and technology to service both the needs of residents and commerce in one incredible building. The site will feature 76 apartments, six commercial retail tenancies in a structure spanning six levels, and three underground levels for car parking.

“We are about to start construction of the job, so that’s something we are looking forward to, to showcase our capabilities,” he explains. “We take pride and pleasure in doing something challenging and producing or creating something we can look back on and appreciate.” The project is estimated to include 16 to 18 months of construction, for which the company is currently gearing up.

Other major projects include the Barkley Street project in West Footscray, an apartment complex which includes 77 units with underground car park.

Mr Naqebullah describes building relationships with clients, partners, suppliers, and sub-contractors as being of vital importance in the building industry, and he takes personal measures to see that each partner and client gets the project they want, completed when they want it. In order to build strong, lasting relationships, Obi, as he is known, makes sure he is present during each stage of a project, from conception to completion.

“Every client is different, each client that we deal with has a specific way they do business and go about things.” Working to understand each client means the company has been able to develop the perfect building to meet the particular needs of each client.

“That close working relationship with the client, understanding the client’s requirements and expectation, and working together with the client to meet those expectations – that’s the key for the success of the project.”

In order to expertly meet client demands, Shangri-La Construction offers a thorough suite of services to assist clients through initial design to construction and completion of their projects. The company can produce working drawings, which allow clients to experience what their finished products will look like in the actual environment as part of the design stage. Structural drawing are designed to provide clients with technical information about the project’s construction, such as the foundation, interior and exterior wall placement, roofs and other structural details.

As part of the design process, the company can also produce accurate service and civil drawings, providing information on utilities, exterior grading, drainage, and landscaping information.

Shangri-La also allows clients to rest easy, taking the responsibility of obtaining both building and occupancy permits, so that clients don’t have to.

Finally, team members are on site to the last moment to work through the compliance checklist with clients, discuss applicable warranties, and complete a final walkthrough before handing over the keys to each new occupant.

It is not only the experience and skill of the people of Shangri-La that keep clients coming back; each member of the team is chosen because of their passion for their job. Clearly, the projects the company undertakes are Obi’s passion, and he expects the same from each member of the group. “Currently, we have got close to 35 staff in the head office, and all of them are very vibrant and happy,” he shares. “They each are great individuals and bring something special to the group, and all work within the systems and procedures of the business when dealing with clients and completing projects.”

Over the last six years, the company has seen some employee turnover, which Obi identifies as a positive thing – he encourages each employee to identify what they are passionate about and to follow that passion. In this way, each client will get the best product, and each team member may experience the personal reward of creating amazing structures. “I am happy to see them grow and get better every day in what they do, and it’s a great place we all feel at home,” he says.

The company itself has seen incredible growth in only a few short years, with another expected doubling of profits by year’s end. “It’s like with any business – when you start, it’s below zero, you have to invest into it, and if you do the right thing you break even, then it goes up, and obviously if you’re doing the right thing, as time goes by, the gradient of the graph goes steeper and steeper.” Obi has steered the company expertly through this period of organic growth, recognising the importance of avoiding staggering jumps in growth, instead cultivating an ongoing process.

One of the company’s ongoing areas of interest has been the use of green products, technologies, and methodologies to create sustainable structures designed to meet the needs of the Australian environment while taking advantage of resources native to the region. “We are constantly looking into green technology and doing things for the environment,” Obi explains. The company works closely with its architects and engineers to determine areas of waste and minimise them through the use of green, environmentally friendly products.

Shangri-La has also made use of the innovative application of rain water, integrating the low-cost, environmentally friendly product in plumbing systems and also for landscaping irrigation.

Moving forward, Obi expects to see continued growth for the company, and aims to continue proactively working to meet evolving market demands across Australia, whether in the design and construction of innovative luxury homes, multi-residence structures, or cutting-edge commercial spaces. “Moving forward, I don’t look into the future a lot; I see current. I make sure that we fulfill our obligations to our current projects, clients, and commitments, and are moving on the right track.”

He expects that Shangri-La will continue to establish itself as one of Melbourne’s largest luxury construction firms.

Behind all the success and high quality construction projects, though, is a philosophy of passion that Obi reinforces is truly the key to everything Shangri-La does. “The most important thing is for everyone to love and enjoy what they do because that’s very important in whichever industry. The construction industry is not an easy one; it’s got its own challenges and I think it’s important that one loves and is happy with whatever role they’re playing in the industry.”

For more information about Shangri-La Construction, please visit

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