A Better Way
Core Project Group is a building company that does things differently. When founders and Directors Jamie Lind and Tom Elliott started the business two years ago in Newcastle, it was out of frustration at a local industry they perceived as being more interested in profit than customer service. They believed contractors were no longer looking at shared objectives, but individual goals, which led to conflicts of interest and project outcomes that disappointed all parties.
In 2012, Jamie and Tom – who first met in University – formed Core Project Group with the goal of reversing that trend. They believed that construction should be a rewarding experience for all the participants. They also believed that shared experience should be built on the values of “communication, collaboration, and integrity.”
“The whole construction process was becoming too adversarial, and we thought there had to be a better way of doing it,” recalls Jaime. “We thought the experience of building and development could actually be rewarding. So we decided to give it a shot and see how we went.”
Today, Core Project Group employs 23 staff, and has experience in a number of different sectors – including residential, commercial, industrial, health and medical, retail, education, and government. They mainly work in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, and their projects have ranged in value all the way up to $12 million.
“It’s all about the client,” Jamie says. “If the client is right, we’ll find a way to make it work.”
No matter what sector Core Project Group is working in, Jamie says the company is set apart by their “focus on the end product.”
“We never want to put out something that’s crap,” he says simply. “Even if it’s at a cost to us, we won’t put out something that doesn’t live up to our standards. We also won’t develop anything that isn’t sustainable – it’s just not something that we’ll pursue.”
According to Jaime, Core Project Group is able to consistently achieve their desired quality by getting involved with their clients at an early stage, before they even acquire any planning approvals.
“We use a phased approach,” he explains. “We break each project down into five phases, and at each phase we check time, cost and quality. The idea being, we don’t proceed to the next phase unless we’ve approved – with both the client and ourselves – that we’re living up to those values.”
By taking this approach, Core Project Group avoids the all-too-common industry challenge of having projects go over-budget.
“We look for clients who can see the value in spending money early in the project to do that,” Jaime says. “Then they ultimately reap the benefits of improved timetables and cost at the end. They also have a certainty of delivery.”
According to Jaime, providing that certainty is the key to forming strong relationships with clients and earning repeat business.
“If you have a good accountant, or a good lawyer, or dentist, or doctor, when you need something done you just go to them and get it done,” he explains. “That’s the sort of relationship we have with clients now. They say ‘We need to get this done, can you do it?’”
“That’s because they trust us – because we’ve proven we do the right thing when it comes to quality, timeliness, and costs,” he adds. “We’re honest and transparent about all that, and it makes for really easy relationships.”
Core Project Group takes the same ethical approach with both their internal staff andtheir subcontractors and tradespeople – many of whom Jamie and Tom worked with before they even started Core Project Group. According to Jamie, that honesty and straight forwardness is rewarded with hard work and quality results.
Since Core Project Group started two years ago, the company has earned more than just repeat business – they have earned recognition from the industry at large. Most recently, at the 2014 MBA Excellence in Building Awards for Newcastle, several of the company’s projects took home awards.
The company’s work on the Lawler Partners Commercial Office, for example, won two categories – Commercial Projects Over $4 Million, and Energy Efficiency & Environmental Sustainability (Commercial).
Core Project Group delivered that project on behalf of Mark Lawler Architects, who also did the design. According to Jamie, their main challenge was the limited site access, which required careful planning and staging of the works – which Core Project Group successfully carried out.
Structural details of the Lawler Partners Commercial Office included stairwells, load capacity of the current roof slab, and service terminations at the roof level to facilitate easy use of future extension in height. The rear fire stair was also upgraded, incorporating economic security measures to allow staff, but not public, use.
The award-winning project also included a range of solutions that minimised the environmental impact of the development. Structural features included vertical and horizontal louvres for sun shading, and a central courtyard which allows greater access to natural light than a fully used site would enable. “Simple but effective energy management,” was also incorporated, according to Jaime. This includes the use of commonly available LED lighting, and water usage minimised by using 6.1 star instantaneous hot water units –as well as recycling roof water into the toilet systems.
At the same awards ceremony, Core Project Group was also recognised with an accolade for Extensions, Renovations &Refurbishments Under $1 Million. They won that award for the work they did at the John Hunter Hospital, in New Lambton Heights – in collaboration with EJE Architecture, they renovated the hospital’s Paediatric Outpatients building.
According to Jamie, that project showcased the difficulties of carrying out refurbishment works in an occupied and busy hospital. Despite that challenge, however, Core Project Group successfully stripped out their 440 square metre work zone – which included the removal of old masonry partitions and the various floor toppings used during the original fitout. From there, the companycompleted a new internalfitout featuring newhigh quality floor linings, covings, joinery and ceiling features.
Jamie says the clients on that job – and the clients on the Lawler Partners Commercial Office – were immensely satisfied with the results Core Project Group achieved. Moving forward, he hopes to continue achieving that level of satisfaction.
He also hopes to grow, he says. The company recently moved to bigger offices in Newcastle in anticipation of that growth.
“We’ve got a good core group of paid staff, and we want to build on that,” he says. “We also want to build on the relationships we have with existing clients, and we want the opportunity to create new relationships as well. We’re really keen to extend our presence, and make ourselves the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to building in Newcastle and the Hunter.”