It’s simple, really – a company whose name comes from the founders’ initials, and has grown organically since its inception.
Jose and Christine Guerreiro started up J+CG in 1994 and now the company is run by their son Mark. Initially the business mainly carried out renovations but has since grown and can complete projects just about anywhere in Australia.
Mark explains that today the company is capable of working on residential, commercial or public works – a lot of its business is with councils – and also carries out a considerable amount of refurbishment and fit out work on commercial premises, particularly food and beverage or retail outlets. The firm’s growth to its present extensive client list and job summary came about through simple hard work, Mark says. “We gradually got into different fields and tried to diversify a bit so as to not be reliant on any one sector,” he explains. “And we look after our clients.”
J+CG’s projects are mainly based in New South Wales – the company itself is based in Sydney’s Hillsdale. Beyond the NSW border, the work has largely consisted of rollouts, hotels, and other commercial construction projects. Supplementing the company’s own 30-plus staff is a small army of subcontractors who work regularly with J+CG. “We value our workers and our subbies and try and work with them,” Mark says. “You get to know the ones to trust and continue working with.”
Business is good, says Mark. “We rely a lot on repeat business. We look after our clientele and they keep coming back – that is the main thing.” It is, he adds, not rocket science – there is work out there and one must not try to make a fortune off a single project but rather gain clients’ trust by being reliable providing good value, and offering top quality – that way, clients tend to come back next time they have a project. “That keeps us busy and it pays the bills – that’s the main thing,” says Mark. Business comes via all the usual methods including negotiated lump sum and hard tenders – it varies from client to client – and the company is on the panels of several councils. “As long as we price within our means and consider the constraints of the project we are generally successful,” Mark shares.
Tackling a variety of projects across the commercial, public works and refurbishments sectors helps keep the cash flow ticking over and ensures that staff members are fully occupied rather than focusing too much on a single sector and its attendant ups and downs. Refits and refurbs can often be slotted in conveniently – and cost-effectively – between much larger projects. And indeed, the different business sectors have different attributes – for example, council work comes with a high degree of administration and paperwork, but also with prompt payment. As Mark explains, “With residential work we are a little more selective to ensure we are not ‘buying’ any project.”
In one key project, J+CG carried out considerable works on the amenities at Heffron Park, a major sporting facility in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra, bounded by Fitzgerald Avenue, Robey Street, Jersey Road and Bunnerong Road. The site is located in the south-eastern section of the park to the west of the Des Renford Aquatic Centre. The work being carried out includes the construction of a multi-purpose amenities building to service the needs of sporting groups such as cycling, soccer and cricket clubs, as well as park visitors who regularly use the area. The building is a single storey brick construction with concrete floor slabs and a metal roof plus covered outdoor areas and landscape works. Pathways, stairs and a ramp were constructed to provide appropriate access to the amenities building.
A major construction management contract completed recently was The Stewart, where the company was asked by the developers to take over the project from another builder who could not finish. The project consisted of 56 units over three to four storeys high with basement car parking, 18 luxury three-bedroom units with separate backyards, 36 two-bedroom units, and two penthouse units. The building was 60 per cent completed, “with considerable inherit building defects which needed to be carefully rectified, and limited design documentation. These units were 80 per cent sold when taking over the contract from the other builder so there was an urgent need to complete and give the developer a staged Occupation Certificate so owners would occupy and complete their contractor obligations,” Mark explains.
“The transition period from the original builder to the management control of J+CG was a period of concern of the developer, with unfinished and limited documentation, unpaid and disgruntled subcontractors and inherent building defects.” Additionally, the time factor, with units that were already sold, was another of the hurdles J+CG faced. On completion, “all inherent building defects had been identified and corrected, documentation was correctly completed with design changes, all contractors negotiated and mutually finalised, and the Occupation Certificate has been achieved to the staging of to date 100 per cent.”
Some other current and recently completed projects include the BeeHive Building (Lift Shaft and Associated Staircase) for the Council of the City of Sydney. Worth some $300,000, this involves demolition of the ground slab and construction of the lift shaft and associated staircase structure that wraps around the lift shaft. The Kings Cross Library Internet Area, also for the Council of the City of Sydney, features a major upgrade to the base building works and level 2 spaces, upgrades to the existing library WC and staff amenities, an upgrade to the fire services system and existing shop front, and façade works.
As well, a basement and nine luxury units are being built at 41 Gerard Street, Cremorne for Brewster Murray Pty Limited at a cost of $3.3 million. This project will take one year, while construction of a Ribs n Burgers Restaurant in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, worth $235,000, has been scheduled to last seven weeks.
Among other retail projects, J+CG is handling several Gloria Jean’s Coffees refurbishments, including sites at Melbourne Airport, Southern Cross Station and Flinders Street Station, as well as base building construction and fit out of a new Kathmandu retail store.
The company’s capabilities include the ability to work around environmental factors faced within the project brief. For example, J+CG constructed a four-level penthouse style apartment block on the steps of Maroubra Beach as well as the construction of South Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club for Randwick Council. Both projects had to solve issues regarding erosion, sustainable and environmental materials, and durable construction methods that would guarantee the longevity of both buildings.
The company also has the ability to adapt to live environments and public places. Examples include the construction of the Coronation Centre for City of Sydney Council within Prince Alfred Park. Here, J+CG was required to manage the egress and well-being of the public that used the park whilst construction was in progress. The Heffron Park Amenities Building is another example of J+CG having to effectively manage the public at a very popular bike track and public facility while constructing a building.
Indeed, the company has upgraded and refurbished numerous council buildings while still in operation and within live environments. This involves J+CG working with the council and creating construction plans to suit all stakeholders, together with protecting the public. Such projects include the refurbishments of Bowen Library Maroubra and the Green Square Community Centre and Library, and the refurbishment of Clovelly Surf Club that included excavating and constructing an underground boat shed facility while the club was still in use.
Mark himself comes from a very hands-on background. “I have been in the business for many years and I have done every job in the industry you can think of, from labouring to sweeping up to project management,” he shares. He can still be found at the sharp end on occasions, especially putting a finishing touch to a project just before a client comes to view. Construction, as he says, is not all that complicated – just look after your clients and they’ll keep coming back!