Dynamic & Responsive
Established over 20 years ago, Northbuild has become a construction company which clients can count on 100 per cent of the time. It is a privately owned company, which was founded by the managing director Paul Boddington. Boddington is still actively involved with the company and is part of the Board of Directors. Based in Brisbane, and working throughout all of Queensland and northern part of New South Wales, Northbuild offers a broad range of construction services. While their main sector of activity is commercial construction, they certainly never limit themselves. “We range widely across all the sectors,” says Andrew Corrigan, the commercial director at Northbuild. They’re particularly known for their design and construct projects, which range from multi-residential to government buildings, to office buildings and shopping centres. Northbuild does it all.
Northbuild remains relatively exclusive, only taking on about 12 to 15 projects per-year. These projects can range anywhere from 8 million to 50 million in value, but they often take on clusters of smaller projects in the 2 to 3 million dollar range. These projects they internally count as one project. “We’re very traditional in terms of Australian building. We subcontract out the bulk of it. However, we remain the managers of the entire process,” says Corrigan. Their subcontracting network remains relatively large but they tend to use a core group on a regular basis. Their main goal is client satisfaction which is why they use an internal assessment system. “It is important to assess subcontractor stability and also financial capability,” says Corrigan. Northbuild, unlike many other commercial builders, actually has their own major plant. They use their own equipment, including cranes and scaffolds. This means that even though they operate largely as managers, they have the capabilities and experience to take on the same jobs that they contract out, it also means that they can support their sub-contractors in their work.
Despite the current economic conditions, Northbuild has managed to stay on their feet. “During the aftermath of the GFC, the Australian Government introduced a stimulus package to do construction across schools. That has delayed the effect of the GFC on the building industry, until now,” says Corrigan. “The stimulus package is now running out, and that has meant that the level of building activity has dropped substantially. The current trend is that the availability of projects is scarce.” As Northbuild and other construction companies wait for conditions to improve, they stay busy with several different government projects.
Northbuild has been lucky in comparison to others in the industry. “Our work has been reasonably stable even during difficult times. We’re definitely better off than many. It hasn’t been a major challenge for us, but it is still a challenge,” says Corrigan.
Additionally, there are certain issues set to take place in the future which Northbuild is unable to predict. “The mining boom in central Queensland will inevitably attract workers which will result in a skill shortage in the building industry,” says Corrigan. Northbuild, unlike many of its competitors, is aware of the changes set to take place in the industry. They are able to prepare themselves and approach their challenges head on.
Women in construction
Northbuild has approximately 100 employees and places great importance on their team. They have put many programs in place for their benefit, including various social and sporting activities. One of the many things that sets Northbuild apart is that they have chosen to take a particular focus on women in their industry. Northbuild offers a cadet program for female students still in university where they are able to work part-time at Northbuild while continuing their education. During the program they get rotated throughout the company and are thus able to learn how everything works. At any given time there are three or four female cadets. “Once they graduate, they usually stay on with the company,” says Corrigan.
Additionally, Northbuild is a major sponsor for WomenSport Queensland, supporting them with attendances, contributions, and involvement at fundraising events. WomenSport Queensland is an organisation dedicated to providing opportunities for women in sport. Women in sport who also want to learn administrative skills can spend time working at Northbuild and learn the ropes with firsthand experience. Last, but certainly not least, Northbuild sponsors the Women in Construction organisation in Queensland. This organisation offers seminars and workshops for women in the industry.
“For us, green initiatives are done voluntarily but in our industry they are also a requirement,” says Corrigan. Northbuild has made a conscious effort to employ individuals who are knowledgeable in the Green Star rating system. “We do a lot of design and construct, so we use external consultants to do the design and we simply manage the process. We have Green Star trained people working inside Northbuild and we have in house design knowledge on Green Star ratings.” Rather than outsourcing such work, Northbuild keeps such employees on staff where they are accessible all the time, and for all projects. Contrary to many of their competitors, Northbuild places sustainability in the high ranks of their priorities.
Northbuild often works side by side with the Australian Government. “When you do projects for the Federal Government above a certain size, you have to be accredited to the Federal Government’s standards and we have done that,” says Corrigan. “The Federal accreditation includes environmental certification and a quality assurance management system.” Working with the government has affected Northbuild and the remainder of their projects in a positive way. The high environmental standards that are required by the Federal Government are applied throughout all of Northbuild’s projects.
Members of the community
Because Northbuild is a private company that is owned and operated by locals, they place a strong emphasis on connecting with and respecting the communities they live and work in. As a contractor, the company considers all safety and environmental precautions when implementing project management plans. Later in a projects life, the onsite management team makes sure to undertake activities that will facilitate communication with the community –such as letterbox drops, and signage announcing progress milestones. When appropriate, Northbuild even invites local groups, such as schools, to paint the site boarding with artwork that will remain there throughout the construction process. This lessens a different kind of pollution, that of the visual impact on the surrounding environments.
Northbuild is also sure to maintain a charitable presence in Queensland, providing support for local sports teams, and giving perpetual donations to charities including Drug Arm, Master Foundation, Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul, and the Police Citizens Boys Club.
The Northbuild difference
When clients choose Northbuild they can be sure that their needs will be taken care of, every step of the way. “The company is quite large but it is still owned by working directors and the founder of the company is still active,” says Corrigan. “This means that anybody involved with Northbuild, whether it is staff or clients, stakeholders, or consultants – they can get a quick response from us.” The owners have a direct interest in their business and thus are 100 per cent committed to customer satisfaction.
One size doesn’t fit it all
According to Northbuild, everybody is different and has different needs. As simple as this may seem, not many builders realise how important people’s differences truly are. “Our response is pretty dynamic,” says Corrigan. “We’re very responsive to the method of delivery of our projects to suit different client requirements. Different clients have different requirements in terms of time, budget, flexibility, or financing. One size doesn’t fit it all so we try our best to be responsive to these differences.”
Corrigan foresees steady growth in Northbuild’s future. Their services already include an enhanced post-handover process as far as defect and warranty management is concerned. Additionally, they offer facility maintenance and management as an option to clients – a service that will include fine tuning buildings to maintain their environmental rating when used. Strengthening those particular areas will be a focus going forward.
With of their wide range of abilities, Northbuild doesn’t have a sector it plans to concentrate on. Instead, their concentration will remain on good responsiveness and the satisfaction of their clients. For Northbuild, there is no focus more important.