Building Clients for Life

APS Group

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The APS Group has clients covered from the cradle to the grave. “Our company motto is ‘client for life,’” says Director Tony Schnaars.

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With a multistorey license and four separate divisions, the South Australian construction firm is able to take care of its customers through all of life’s major stages. From a young couple’s first home, to a mid-career fit-out for their office during middle age, to property investment advice in their golden years, APS can handle it all.

Hundreds of Adelaide property owners have already become “clients for life,” utilizing the company’s services for the third, the fourth, and even the fifth time. “And then it goes to the second generation when their kids start buying their first homes,” Mr Schnaars shares.

APS’s first division, APS Homes, specialises in custom built luxury homes. A second division, APS Developments, deals with multiunit development projects. “[This division] specialises in buying land, subdividing, building speculative homes and selling them to the investor market or the first and second home buyer market,” Mr Schnaars explains. APS Built Commercial Construction and Fit out covers a range of projects, from “building a car wash on the corner of a suburban street to multistorey building.” A fourth division, APS Consulting, provides development feasibility and consulting services to help clients create wealth through property investment.

APS’ personalised service ensures that clients get exactly what they want, no matter what the project. In order to provide its complete, individualised solution, the one-stop shop employs professionals across the industry’s key areas: project management, construction management, building supervision, contract administration and financial management. As a result, every client is guaranteed to “get individual knowledge and expertise in five different areas,” Mr Schnaars points out. For example, “if we are digging the footings [for a client], we have an in-house engineer that can talk them all the way through the construction process and the preconstruction process.”

This expert capability also allows the team to specialise in challenging, innovative jobs. “We do a lot of difficult sites,” says Mr Schnaars. “We do a lot of sloping sites, split level sites, retaining walls, those sorts of things.” These homes are specially designed to maximise the site and to fulfil the client’s vision, while also keeping a close eye on the budget. The goal for every job – whether a private home, commercial fit-out, or architecturally designed renovation – is to fully maximise the true value of the property investment.

APS also maintains a close partnership with all of its trades, ensuring top quality work – on time and on budget. Before going back to school for industrial engineering (and going on to found APS), Mr Schnaars worked as a boilermaker, giving him an insider’s perspective and understanding. “I am very, very close to all my trades,” he explains. “Having a trade background gives me great relationships with the trades that have been working for me for such a long time. Those trades have grown their companies around our business.”

APS’ unique skills and attention to detail is showcased in the company’s Synergy Display Home at St Clair, which has been recognised nationwide with a slew of awards. “We’ve won best display home from the Housing Industry’s Association, we won the Master Builders best display home, and we also won the national best display home of the year,” Mr Schnaars reports. “The house is absolutely amazing. It took five years in the planning.”

At first glance, the futuristic, blocky design appears to be topped off with a floating roof. “It is engineered in such a way that when you look at the building it doesn’t look possible. It has a huge, eight metre flying roof that flies over from the left hand side of the building to the right hand side of the building. It is cantilevered almost nine metres.”

The bold design also features a wall of windows that provide a dramatic view into the interior; a prominently placed staircase beckons observers inside. “That creates street appeal and makes the building look absolutely fantastic,” Mr Schnaars explains. A shining white exterior frames the windows and contrasts beautifully with the warm wood and black façade below.

The interior is composed of clean lines and sleek, shiny materials. The floor plan includes three bedrooms, a secondary upstairs living area, an entertaining balcony, and a theatre room. The minimalist, open design features a hidden dressing room in the master bedroom, an exposed kitchen where everything can be tucked away, and sliding doors between living areas. There is also a cantilevered indoor / outdoor living area with outdoor kitchen that is bordered by an in-ground lap pool. A tiled double garage opens onto the outdoor space. “So you lift up the rear roller door and that creates another huge living area,” Mr Schnaars points out. “We’ve had parties in [the house] before and we’ve been able to fit 150 people easily.”

The entire structure is built with energy efficiency in mind. High set electric louvres in the main living area allow hot air to escape, while lower set louvres on the opposite side of the room draw in cool air, creating cross ventilation and drastically reducing the need for air conditioning. The design also allows natural light to flood the interior and the indoor / outdoor dining area faces north for winter and summer sun. In addition, windows are double glazed.

The company has just poured the foundations for another display home at St Clair and a handful of other exciting projects are also in the works. For instance, next year the team will be building an eye-catching house at Flagstaff Hill on a challenging, sloping lot. “The atrium ceiling is around eight metres high and the master bedroom ceiling is around 6.5 metres high, so for a fairly small home it is going to be quite spectacular,” Mr Schnaars predicts. “The market probably has not seen something like this for a long time.” And that is exactly the way APS likes to do things. “That is where we like to keep ourselves. We like to push the boundaries; we like to be ahead, creating new and different ideas in the residential market.”

Pushing the boundaries helps keep APS on the radar, despite heavy competition. “It is very tough out there at the moment,” Mr Schnaars admits. The secret to riding out the tough times is the company’s ability to diversify through its four different divisions. “What is getting our company through is the diverse range of product that we put out,” Mr Schnaars explains. “That sustains our stability in the South Australian marketplace overall.”

The strategy has been so effective that APS is actually growing, in spite of the challenges. “We are actually employing staff instead of dismissing staff; there are not many companies in South Australia, or even Australia, that can say that at the moment. So we are holding our ground, plus we are actually increasing our business.” Sales have increased around 15 to 20 per cent in the last several years, and the team estimates that business will continue to increase by another five per cent over the next few years.

APS has been so successful of late that Mr Schnaars feels a strong streak of optimism for the entire state. “Stay positive in SA,” he insists. “It is a great state. There is a lot of talk about doom and gloom, but the good times will come back and we will have some solid growth within the industry.” In the meantime, APS will continue to build a solid portfolio of leading edge structures throughout the region.

March 28, 2017, 7:06 PM AEDT