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For more than 30 years, Manteena has built a reputation for hard work and high quality in project and construction management. In an extremely tight market, Manteena has thrived by demonstrating their ability to understand clients’ needs, their willingness to work in partnership with clients, and their value for money. As a Canberra mainstay, with operations extending to the Illawarra and regional NSW, Manteena is an industry titan dedicated to safely delivering the highest quality, on time, and on budget.

That dedication first began in the early 1980s, when Manteena was founded by John Hailey and his wife Jill. “The company has grown considerably since then,” says Mark Bauer, General Manager. From smaller commercial projects managed from the Hailey’s home, they have progressively grown and taken on bigger challenges – with turnover now around $100M per annum. Initially, one of their main clients was the ACT government, but their portfolio has broadened over the years to include work for other Commonwealth Agencies, institutional clients such as universities and training colleges, and also private sector clients who are generally “long-term holders of their infrastructure stock.”

Bauer began his career with the company in 1994 as a cadet. The job was part of his university degree, a Bachelors of Construction Management and Economics at University of Canberra. That course required six months of practical experience – which has now stretched over 18 years. “I’ve never left,” Bauer says.

Industry recognised

In their 30-plus years in the industry, Manteena has won many awards for their work, particularly from the Master Builders Association – an industry association they have a long-standing and strong relationship with. Bauer says they value that industry recognition on a couple of levels. “First of all, getting recognition for people who worked on a project is very important. It not only promotes the effort that the team has put in, but it puts that team up on a pedestal within the industry.”

Last year they won MBA Project of the Year for the first time, for a project they completed at the National Gallery of Australia. They’ve also won awards almost every year throughout the last decade, for a variety different projects. “It’s great to get that recognition because it really demonstrates excellence, and that’s really what we’re striving for,” Bauer says.

Most recently, Manteena earned an MBA award for their work on the Gungahlin Community Health Centre for the ACT Health Directorate. The category was Excellence in Work Health and Safety Commercial Practices.

Quality people, quality performance

The Gungahlin Community Health Centre is part of a roll-out of new and refurbished facilities managed by the ACT Health Directorate as part of their Capital Assets Development Program. It’s a two-story building with reception and clinical areas – including dental suites, podiatry, pathology, bariatric, gym and numerous interviewing and consultation rooms – located on the ground floor, and the administration areas on the first floor. Externally, the facility is complimented by a therapeutic courtyard and soft landscaping.

The project was earned through a competitive tender process released by the ACT Government that called for Project Managers – a role that, in the ACT, manages both design and construction process on a project. Manteena won that project in April 2011 and started on site in September of that year. The project was completed in July 2012 – ahead of program and under budget – and opened on Sept. 2.

“It’s one of those projects that you’re pleased and proud to be associated with,” Bauer says. “We set objectives at the start of the project for our organisation, and we can now look back and see we have accomplished them. To actually achieve excellence in OH&S as well as bettering the program, that’s a really good outcome.”

Initially Manteena was drawn to the Community Health Centre because of the opportunity it posed to further establish and strengthen their health portfolio. “We saw this project as being a great opportunity to do that,” Bauer says.

As for what made Manteena a good fit for the project, Bauer credits their team. “We put together a team that was very experienced, had all worked together previously, and had experience working on large health projects,” he says. “That gave us a strong point of difference in the selection process.”

“We’re an organisation which understands that people really drive and determine outcomes,” he adds. “The quality of our people underpins our performance. The way in which we treat each other, our clients, and our contractors is with respect. We value them for what they all bring and we realise that they are all important parts of a project. That value underpins the culture within our organisation.”

Bauer says that when it comes to the employee-company relationship at Manteena, management approaches it from a “work with” rather than a “work for” perspective. The Directors are all actively involved in the business in operational roles.

“I’ve had all the support from senior management and Directors as I could ask for,” says Remo Beniamini, Safety Manager.

Beniamini has been with the company for over five years, a milestone shared with many Manteena employees. “We actively work to provide people opportunities for the medium to longer term,” Bauer says. “By taking that view, we really value the people that stick with us. A lot of our people have been here five, 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years. That’s something that’s really special and which we recognise on an annual basis.”

Safety and security

“With every project, we put a lot of time into getting the systems right,” says Beniamini of the company’s safety practices. “Quite a lot of involvement goes into creating our safety plans.”

Manteena has received a lot of industry recognition for their safety performance, which Beniamini credits to the company’s perseverance. They are very diligent about inducting their own people and also their tradesmen into the plans they have for a project, then monitoring that throughout.

“It’s underpinned by our systems,” Bauer adds. “The system we have at a corporate level filters into the project plan.”

At Manteena, they continue to work hard to implement a “cultural change” in regards to safety. “The industry, unfortunately, does have its challenges regarding safety and how people manage risk,” Bauer says. “One of the things we are constantly striving for is improvement in the consultation and engagement we have with our trades throughout the process. We try to bring them on-board, and  see that there’s value for all of us in going along for the journey and working together to achieve good safety outcomes.”

Anthony Hughes is a Safety Advisor at Manteena, and led the company’s efforts in that arena at Gungahlin. He agrees with Bauer. “We always like to work with the trades, especially those that are new to bigger jobs,” he says. At Gungahlin, they worked with a company doing their first major commercial project. “We worked with them in developing their systems, and helped them advance their knowledge of OH&S.”

That skill and perseverance when dealing with trades is what netted the Manteena an award for the project, Hughes says. “We were fortunate to get a great bunch of different trades, and they all took a positive attitude to safety, which makes my job easier,” he explains. “We also have a very comprehensive system, and everything stems from that.”

Upcoming opportunities

The Gungahlin Centre is one of three health centres the ACT Government has commissioned, and the first to be completed. Centres in Belconnen and Tuggeranong are to follow close behind. Bauer also says that more significant health investment is coming in both the ACT and NSW, and by proving their worth in Gungahlin, Manteena is well positioned to capitalise on those upcoming opportunities.

In the future, Manteena will continue to work in partnership with quality subcontractors. That was the key to achieving success at Gungahlin, and will continue to be the key moving forward. “Our success totally relies on the success of trades, subcontractors and suppliers,” Bauer says. “We bring them together, we supervise the work, coordinate and mentor and do all those things to facilitate the outcome – but the built product is really a result of those tradespeople working together. If we can harness the best outcome from them, it puts us in the best position to get a great project for our clients.”