Millar | Merrigan

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Development problem solvers

Millar Merrigan is a multi-award-winning professional consulting group that provides services for a wide range of development projects throughout Australia. Since their inception over 50 years ago, they have worked across virtually every facet of the development industry, and they have learned to produce design solutions for virtually any kind of industry problem. They are successful because they are multi-disciplinary, providing a wide range of professional services for an equally wide range of clients – including large corporations, private development companies, and many state and local government authorities. 

Most of those clients, no matter the sector, are repeat ones. That loyalty is why Millar Merrigan has endured so long. They dedicate themselves to their clients – to consistently fulfilling their objectives and exceeding their expectations. As a result, they have earned a high client return rate, with most of their current projects being for either past clients or referrals from past clients.

“We have a reputation for taking care of our clients,” says Simon Merrigan. “That reputation is very important to us. Over the years, we’ve worked very hard to build and maintain it.”

Because of that hard work, the company has steadily grown in renown throughout Melbourne and Regional Victoria, and consistently earned industry acclaim for the quality of their projects.  In particular, they have repeatedly been recognised by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), whose prestigious awards program is well-recognised for showcasing the industry’s finest work and promoting the most exceptional projects in each state.  

Most recently, at the 2019 UDIA Victoria Awards for Excellence, Millar Merrigan was the winner of the ‘Residential Development Award below 250 Lots.’ They received the award in recognition of their work as a consultant for Central Walk Estate in Drysdale.

“We were so proud to receive this award,” Simon said, in a statement the day after the victory. “Being involved in another award-winning project is a huge reinforcement that our efforts to always improve and deliver exceptional results don’t go unnoticed.”

“At the end of a project like this is the beginning of a new community that will grow and develop over many years,” he added. “And through our influence we aim to improve the standard of these communities, to inspire better living across Victoria.”

The Central Walk Estate, as the name suggests, is a master planned estate located only 200 metres from Drysdale’s town centre, and within walking distance all local town amenities – everything from cafes, shops, hotels, and restaurants, to childcare, pre-school and school is all within a stone’s throw.

Central Walk was conceived and designed to create a friendly community atmosphere. It is a boutique development with a limited supply of only 200 lots, and the estate was designed around a central landscaped water entry feature with a huge tiered landscape feature, which has proven to be a popular meeting and recreational space. And because of the close proximity to town, residents walk more often than in many other similar estates, so they see and interact with their neighbors more.

In their comments, the UDIA commended the site for its “very strong community feel” and for its “proximity to the town centre, which makes driving unnecessary for many daily activities.”

Above all, the judges said, they were “very impressed by the attention to detail in all aspects of the site making Central Walk a friendly, attractive, and highly affordable addition to housing on the Bellarine.”

The developer on Central Walk was Urban Land Developments, a longstanding client that Millar Merrigan has been working with for over 30 years. Central Walk was actually their second UDIA-award-winning partnership in the last three years alone. At the 2017 UDIA Victoria Awards, their collaboration on the Lomandra Estate in Romsey won the same category.

Simon credits that repeat award-winning performance, above all else, to the quality of the client:

“They are a developer that wants to do really good work,” he says. “They are a quality company and a quality client of ours. It’s always a pleasure to work with them, because they’re always looking to do things the right way.”

In the case of Central Walk specifically, Simon says the client’s commitment to doing things right is what led to the strong community atmosphere the judges commended.

“When you design and build a new community, the pride you take in it spills over,” he says. “It’s kind of funny how it works that way. If you do the work really well, if you do the landscaping to a high standard, the attitudes of the residents tend to reflect that. They tend to buy in. If you’re proud of the community you design and build, the residents tend to be a bit more proud of their homes. That creates a really good community feeling. I believe that’s what happened at Central Walk.”

Opportunities to grow

Simon has been involved in Millar Merrigan almost his entire working life. As the son of Peter Merrigan – who founded the company in 1966 and remains a Director to this day – he grew up around the company, and his personal career evolution essentially mirrored the evolution of the business. He started his career in land surveying, later earning qualifications across several disciplines – including urban design, town planning, and landscape architecture.

Simon became a Director of Millar Merrigan in 2008 and has been the Managing Director since 2016. Under his leadership, the company has expanded its capabilities and grown slowly but steadily. They now have over 100 staff operating from two offices – one in Croydon, where the company was established, and one in Gippsland, which they launched six years ago.

Today, Millar Merrigan takes on projects ranging widely in size and value. In addition to assisting their clients with major industrial and residential estate subdivisions, they also take on a large number of medium density infill projects, everything from dual-occupancy properties to multi-stage, multi-unit developments. They have the capabilities in-house to shepherd those projects from planning to design to construction and take care all the small steps in between.

According to Simon, it’s that comprehensive service that sets Millar Merrigan apart:

“A lot of the people that come to us like the fact they can just come to one established company that can do it all,” he says. “They like that they just have one person to talk to make sure they are being looked after. A lot of them have previously done projects where there’s a bunch of consultants, and then when something goes wrong, the ‘blame game’ gets played – and that leads to blow outs in time and cost.”

“That’s the opposite of what we do,” he adds. “We look after our clients. We make sure it’s easy for them. We provide them with all the expertise they need in one place. And if there’s ever a problem, we don’t point fingers. We deal with it. We come up with solutions.”

In addition, Millar Merrigan is further set apart by the relationships they have built over time with key industry stakeholders:

“We have an amazing network of suppliers and subcontractors,” Simon says. “We can tap into the best people in the industry, the companies at the top of their game. We’ve built and maintained those relationships over many years, and they are invaluable to helping our clients.”

Some of Millar Merrigan’s supplier and subcontractor relationships date back more than three decades. Some of the company’s direct staff have been with them almost as long, with many having risen through the ranks over the course of 15 years or more. Simon believes that longevity is a key strength of the business.

“The teamwork and cohesion that comes from longstanding people is special,” he says. “That’s what we have. That’s part of why we have been so successful.”

Simon credits the company’s history of retention to their family atmosphere – but he doesn’t even mean the Merrigan family specifically. He says there are many parents on staff who have been joined by their sons and daughters. He says people tend to enjoy the company’s culture so much that they recommend it to their family members.

“We have a great reputation for looking after people, for giving people opportunities, and for caring about what happens to people,” Simon says. “We look out for each other here. That started with my father and his attitude, and we’ve carried it on through the years.”

Moving forward, Simon wants to continue to foster that positive corporate culture and continue to retain staff and give them opportunity to grow.

“We have a lot of young professionals in the early stages of their careers,” he says. “We want to give them the opportunity to develop and progress professionally right here. That means continuing to grow as a company.”

When it comes to growth, Millar Merrigan’s second office in Gippsland has been very successful, and Simon believes that success will continue. The company recently had 15 major projects on the go in regional areas, and Simon sees plenty of additional opportunities down the line. He believes expansion is a possibility. But if that expansion comes, Simon says, it will never come at the expense of quality or at the expense of their clients.

“The most important thing for us is that we’re working with really good clients, and doing really good work,” he concludes. “That’s why we do what we do. That’s what makes for a good professional life.”

For more on Millar & Merrigan, their people, their depth of services, and their award-winning projects – including more on Central Walk Estate – visit http://millarmerrigan.com.au/