Boutique service, quality results
Astute Projects is a building and project management company backed by experience and dedication. From the start, they have been building a reputation for “going the extra mile to get the job done.” They are among Australia’s leading experts when it comes to delivering specialised and commercial projects, and their list of satisfied customers includes names like Village Road Show, Griffith University, Moreton Bay Council and local Government Departments.
The company was initially formed in late 2008, when Directors Paul Chapple and Brad Hook were working together. At that time, they saw an opportunity to team up and strike out on their own.
“We commonly believed that Astute Projects could do things a bit different from other builders,” Paul says.
The thought was to offer a more personalised service while taking away the “corporate feel” that other builders offer.
“We wanted to be approachable like a boutique builder, but still provide the same quality, service and projects as the top-tier companies,” Paul explains.
Prior to teaming up and forming Astute, Paul and Brad had earned decades of building experience each. For his part, Paul is a metal fabricator by trade. He started off in Western Australia, and worked for many of the bigger companies in the area. His career brought him to Southern New South Wales where he continued his progression through local company Zauner Construction before finally residing in Brisbane, where he met Brad and realised they had the same goals and ideals.
Brad, on the other hand, started his career in Melbourne, where he learned the ins and outs of shopfitting and project management working with such names as The Just Group, Cotton On, and Reece. He then committed to furthering his scope of abilities by moving over to construction – where he eventually worked with some of the country’s biggest builders, and even spent time working overseas, on projects like the Venetian hotel and casino in Macau.
“Both of us have worked our way up from the bottom,” Brad says. “We haven’t inherited a business, but rather established and created one. We know what it means to work hard, and that’s how we’ve built the company.”
“We’re both very active in the business, and we have been since 2008,” he adds. “We’re on the ground, and we’re the ones making decisions.”
Today, Astute Projects is based in South East Queensland, but the company is equipped to work almost anywhere in the country if the right opportunity presents itself. So far, they have successfully delivered projects all throughout Queensland and New South Wales.
Astute Projects is an “open builder,” so they can build essentially anything. Mostly they look at industrial and commercial projects. No matter what kind of project they are building, however, Paul says they are set apart by their “boutique offering and approachable style.”
“That said, when I think of ‘boutique,’ I think of ‘small’ – and we’re not a small builder,” he clarifies. “We don’t concentrate on small projects. We deliver larger projects as well. At the moment, for example, we’re working on a 4000 square metre warehouse.”
When they talk about being “boutique,” Paul and Brad are really talking about their personal service. The two of them work at the coalface on every project, and they liaise with their clients directly, and do not make them go through supervisors or middle men. If a client has a question or concern, they are encouraged to come right to the owners of the company – which is something they really appreciate.
As a company, Astute Projects has also built a strong reputation for doing specialised projects, while being honest and collaborative along the way. Both Brad and Paul like to work closely with clients from the design stage – that way they can quote fair and reasonable prices, and they can use their expertise to spot potential problems before they happen.
Astute’s expertise is particularly important on specialist projects, which are often complex, and require forward-thinking.
“That’s the benefit of having a Director on the ground,” Paul explains. “We have the experience and the knowledge to know what to look for. And even though we can’t be there all the time, we try and make sure we’re in touch with the guys on a daily basis.”
“We’re happy to consult with the client and give them our knowledge,” Brad adds. “That makes them feel more comfortable with us and the whole process, and always helps to bring added value and savings to the client.”
Brad and Paul are also supported by an experienced team, including their direct staff, and also their trusted register of subcontractors and tradespeople. According to both Directors, the strength of that team is another point of difference for Astute Projects.
“We’re all about building relationships with our trades,” Brad explains. “I don’t think there’s a single trade that has worked with us that would say we’ve done wrong by them, and as a result we get the benefit of those external contractors working positively as if they were directly part of our team.”
“A big part of our business is making sure we have the right trades on site, and that we have trades that we can trust,” he adds. “We have a management system where we assess our trades after each project, and we ask our trades to assess us and how we act. And if there’s any way we can improve, we work towards that.”
Astute Projects boutique service – and the quality result they achieve with it – has not gone unrecognised by the industry. At the 2013 MBA Awards, for example, the company received the prestigious accolade for Civil Contractor of the Year.
“We were ecstatic,” Paul says of the recognition. “We didn’t actually enter that award category. We applied in the Tourism Facilities category, but the judges decided the project was best recognised as a civil project – which it was – and they awarded us Civil Contractor of the Year. We were flabbergasted.”
Astute Projects won that award on behalf of their work at the well-known theme park Sea World on the Gold Coast. They worked on a seal and dolphin exhibit called Seal Harbour, and also did some additional work on the dolphin pools. They completed their scope of work on time, and to an obviously high quality.
“The award was amazing recognition for everyone on the team,” Brad adds. “We all took pride in the project. It was quite a technical and complex job, and it was great for our hard work to be recognised.”
Brad says that project was particularly challenging because of the tight time frame.
“It was one of those cases where the client needed the exhibit open on a certain date,” he explains. “And we always fulfil reasonable dates. That’s something that sets us apart. We don’t ask for extension after extension. We always get it done.”
Another challenge on that project was working around live mammals. On top of that, they had to deal with multiple government departments – each of which demanded that the project be built within exacting standards before mammals and Sea World visitors were allowed in.
“It’s all about working with the client, and doing what it takes to get the job done,” Paul says. “In cases like that, it meant getting there at 1 a.m. in the morning to work around the park’s ever changing schedule. There are not a lot of companies that will do that, but we’re one of them.”
Moving forward, Astute Projects will continue to work closely with their clients, and continue to go the extra mile to meet their requirements. As a result, they will continue to achieve award-worthy results, and the business will grow on the back of that.
“We have a reputation among clients for providing a good price, and for getting the job done,” Brad says. “Our goal is to maintain and build on that reputation, and use it to enter new markets.”
“We see our company continue to expand into multi-storey building, aged care developments, and anything in-between,” Paul adds. “We believe we can accomplish this by ensuring our ongoing relationships are being maintained, and by continuing to deliver quality products.”
For more information, please visit their website at: Astute Projects
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