Most experienced and most respected
Faithfully serving the plumbing and engineering industry of Australia for over a century now, JL Williams is the longest established Mechanical Services Contractor in Australia, and has built a sterling reputation for itself. The business was established in 1875 by James L. Williams. He built a company which both he and his children could be proud of, and to this day, JLW has remained under the watchful eye of five generations of Williams.
Beginning as a plumbing company, JLW ventured into mechanical services in the 1940’s. “Basically when air conditioning was invented,” laughs David Henwood, the current business developer at JLW. David has a longstanding relationship with JLW that dates back over 30 years. He began with the company straight out of high school at the tender age of 15. From working on building sites, to plumbing, and then working in the service department, David worked his way up. It is this sort of upward mobility and equitable treatment which keeps their staff happy and motivated. Despite their history as a family based company, JLW has changed with the times and are ready and willing to hire other individuals for some of the most important jobs.
David explains that the company has excellent employee relations. “I think because it’s a family business and also a long-standing business. A lot of the employees are long term,” he says. Employees receive the treatment they deserve at JLW. In addition to equitable treatment, fairness, and respect, employees of JLW also have income protection along with the salary they receive. A point of difference at JLW is that employees receive one rostered day off (RDO) per month.
Keeping up with the trends
As trends change, builders and contractors need to be able to keep up. The most current and significant trend within the air conditioning industry is the move towards more energy efficient products, and practices. “Within the A/C industry, you need to be energy efficient because of the continued concern over global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. All of our technology and the way we build buildings to put the equipment in these days; it is important to focus on the energy efficiency side of things. This is true in all industries of course, but ours especially since we put air conditioning systems into multi-storey high rise buildings in the city. They tend to use quite a lot of electricity,” says David.
JLW not only works hard to keep up with the current trends, but they also work on discovering new types of technology which are better for the environment, and essentially better for everyone. For example, JLW uses chilled beams in a lot of their buildings now. Chilled beams are designed to heat or cool large buildings by using pipes of water. They are significantly cheaper in cost and they are also more effective in terms of energy efficiency.
Throughout their long and storied history, JL Williams have worked on many landmark projects throughout Australia. Way back in the 1930’s they were involved with the Footscray District Hospital, which still stands with a the new name of the Maribyrnong Medical Centre; and the I.C.I. House, which is now known as the Orica House – it was also the first fully air-conditioned building in Melbourne and the first truly multi-story building in Melbourne, respectively.
Later projects undertaken by JL Williams include the Royal Adelaide Children’s Hospital, which was completed in 1964 and was the largest Mechanical Services Contract of that era. Nineteen years later, in 1985, JLW completed the installation of air-conditioning and mechanical services at the Rialto Twin Towers, the tallest concrete structure in the southern hemisphere and a building of significant worldwide interest because of it. After the Rialto, the landmark projects keep coming: Grant Hyatt, Shell House, 101 Collins Street, A.M.P. Bourke Place, Telecom Corporate and ANZ World Headquarters.
More recently, in 2009, JLW worked on a new landmark in Melbourne: the Melbourne Convention Centre. This 550 million dollar project quickly became a proud achievement of JLW, and the residents. “It was a very large job for us,” says David. Despite its size, the centre was built in only one year. It was the first 6 Star Greenstar environmental rated convention centre. The convention centre is comprised of 32 meeting rooms, a grand ball room, pre-function areas, as well as a state of the art Plenary Hall facility which seats over 5,000 and can be divided into three different fully self-contained acoustically separated theatres.
It is safe to say that JLW is one of the leading companies when it comes to sustainability. They were responsible for the first 6 Star Greenstar rated office building in Australia. They continue to complete projects with high standards and Greenstar ratings. They differ from other mechanical contracting companies because they provide their clients with a ‘sustainability assist’ brochure. This brochure assists clients in going green and saving energy within their buildings. It explains how they employ professionals to assist their clients in auditing and the operation and efficiency of their mechanical assets, and provide relevant recommendations, priorities, and costing – all with the aim of improving the building’s economic and environmental performance. Not only does JLW want to reduce their own carbon footprint, but they also want to assist their clients in reducing theirs.
With their focus on sustainability, JLW has recently collected a rage of achievements in the green sector. The Melbourne Convention Centre is one of those achievements. Another is Council House 2, the first 6 Star Greenstar office building, which includes passive chilled ceiling panels and beams. Workplace 6 at Darling Island also marked a green achievement as new South Wales’ first 6 Star Greenstar As Built Project.
Having established themselves so long ago, it is easy to assume, and assume correctly, that JLW has built a reputation which carries them through. While this is true, it is wrong to assume that they face no challenges. JLW is part of a very competitive market, with many other companies coming into existence after JLW did. Consumers tend to shop around and look for the best price. Price however, is no guarantee of quality, and where JLW does not necessarily always guarantee the lowest cost, they can ensure quality work and high customer satisfaction in the projects they engage.
Two years ago, JLW decided it was time for a change. With the economy as unpredictable as it was, they decided to take action, and it was a good thing they did. At the time they re-examined the structure of the company and reorganised it. “We wanted to make sure we were efficient with what we were doing,” says David. “It was this restructuring two years ago that held us up pretty well throughout the GFC and all the things that were going on at the time.”
A name to be trusted
What makes JLW unique? Aside from the fact that it is the longest established mechanical services contractor in Australia, they offer quality service whenever clients are in need. It still remains a family owned business which definitely adds to the feeling of family from both staff and clients perspectives. “We’re pretty well off here in the sense that if you have a question, you can always get the answer from someone,” says David. “We also have long serving employees who have worked with each other for long periods of time. It really brings together a complete package to offer our clients.”
The future of JLW
Over the last 135 years, JLW has established itself as a company with a strong foundation and excellent staff. Why quit there? While they have no major plans for expansion, they do intend on creating steady growth for the company over the next five years. “First, we want to continue to provide quality installation and project works,” says David. “It is important for us to keep up with the current trends as they come along.”