NS Group is a national consulting firm that provides the full range of advisory, project, and development management services to the property and construction industries. They work with private, institutional and government clients across a wide range of industry sectors, and they provide a holistic service backed by values including leadership, honour, collaboration and care. By living up to those values, they are able to deliver outstanding results throughout the entire lifecycle of a project – and they are able to stay one step ahead of the rest of the market.
The group began with NS Projects, which was established in 2003 to provide independent project management services, first in Metropolitan Perth, then regional Western Australia, then the Northern Territory, and then the rest of the country. In the years since commencing, that company have steadily grown in size and reputation, becoming known nationwide as one of the leaders in the project management space.
NS Advisory – which originated more recently – is the other half of NS Group, and is affiliated with NS Projects through a common shareholding and located within the same premises. Under that umbrella, the company provides high quality, flexible and innovative property solutions at a more macro level. Their key services include asset strategies, business plans, transaction and acquisition management, asset appraisals, financial modelling, business cases, and development management services.
Together, the two firms offer a unique and seamless approach by combining valuation, property advisory, and leading project management skills. They now work across both the metropolitan and regional areas of Australia. They take a local approach to every job, but they have a national reach, with offices in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin.
Damian Fasher is a Director of NS Group based in Perth. He credits the company’s rapid growth to the diversity of their service offering, and to the wealth of international and cross-disciplinary experience they have within their team.
“We work across a number of different sectors,” he says, “and we have specialist teams in every one of them. Our staff comes from all over the world. They have deep knowledge and understanding of specific industries, but they can operate in other industries as well. That means we can’t be pigeonholed. We can do it all.”
“I believe that’s quite attractive to our clients,” he goes on. “That’s why we have been able to transition to a national company relatively easily, because we have been able to pursue any and all opportunities that suit us. Whatever our clients need, we can help.”
In addition, Damian credits the company’s growth to the recent introduction of NS Advisory – which was borne out of the trust they had built with some of their first clients in Perth.
“Very early on, because of the way we worked with them, we became trusted partners to our clients,” he says. “They recognised the value that we could add by providing an upfront advisory service. They recognised that if we came in early to set the project up, we could provide advice that supports their business needs overall, and not just the needs of that one specific project. That would lead to better outcomes.”
Richard Johnston is the General Manager of NS Group’s Advisory division. He explains that the benefits of using a company like theirs – a company that combines development advisory and project management services, rather than just offering one or the other – are numerous.
“With us, clients are getting a holistic view of their project and how it works with their business,” he says. “If they use a project advisory company that doesn’t deliver projects, they’re just going to get one point of view. Later, if they use a project management company that doesn’t provide advisory services, it’s the same thing.”
“But our team does everything,” he adds. “We understand the broader brief, and we carry that understanding throughout the entire process.”
“In most cases, clients have somebody plan a project and give it to somebody else to deliver it, and that somebody loses the appreciation for the bigger picture,” he says. “That’s not how it works with us. We have a continuity of understanding. We know what the client’s business drivers are. All the decisions we make during the delivery phase we make with that context in mind.”
Extremely good outcomes
Recently, NS Group has demonstrated the depth of their capabilities on a number of high profile projects across the country. Many of them were award-winning, and almost all of them were highly significant in scale and impact on their communities.
Last year, for example, the company completed work on the Scarborough Beach Pool, which they delivered in collaboration with the City of Stirling. That project – valued at $26 million – is located at one of Perth’s most popular beaches, and is the first facility of its kind in all Western Australia.
“It offers the community an iconic attraction where they can enjoy a beachside swim,” reads NS Group’s description of the job. “With its minimal ecological footprint through leading sustainability, the development is the centrepiece in the city’s vision to revitalise the area.”
NS Group’s role on the project was to deliver a “distinct coastal aquatic facility” that would serve as “a social and recreational hub for the community.” For the City of Stirling, the goal of the project was to “stimulate regional economic development” and “contribute significantly to the Scarborough revitalisation vision.”
The City’s goal was also to deliver an environmentally sustainable result – which is a goal NS Group always shares, no matter the project type or size.
For the Scarborough Beach Pool, to help achieve that goal, the group turned to Full Circle Design Services (FCDS). They are a company that provides sustainable design advice to projects from their inception to their delivery – the ‘Full Circle’ of the project’s life, so to speak. They believe in planning, designing and delivering projects that perform to high environmental standards and improve the experience of all who use or interact with them.
For this project, FCDS completed energy and thermal analysis. Their efforts contributed to the project earning a 6 Star Green Star Design rating, among other energy accolades. The project’s ESD features included a large geothermal system to provide pool heating, high efficiency lighting systems, and solar passive design that allowed for ocean views whilst preventing direct solar penetration and glare.
Andy Robinson was NS Group’s Project Manager on the job. He is personally very proud of the environmental outcomes he and his team achieved, which evolved over the course of the design and delivery process. Early on, they were aiming for a 5 Star Green Star rating – but they later determined a 6 Star rating was achievable within the budget and program, and their team was able to come together pull it off.
“We were the first outdoor pool in Australia to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating,” he says. “We thought that was pretty exciting.”
Richard, meanwhile, was most excited by the commercial outcomes they achieved on the project. He says they were able to achieve outcomes because – in addition to managing the project’s design and delivery – they provided front-end assistance with the external funding and internal business plan. For example, they assisted with the placement of the retail and commercial tenancies, which turned out to be vital to the project’s commercial viability.
“In Australia, facilities like this don’t typically operate commercially because they don’t integrate with the community around them,” he explains.
“In this case, however, the commercial and retail opportunities we worked to include in the facility actually service the pool and its customers, as well as the broader development around them. The revenue from those opportunities has effectively made the facility commercially viable.”
Unsurprisingly, the City of Stirling was and remains very pleased with the finished product. Andy has kept in contact with them as part of NS Group’s extensive post-handover process, and he says that “by all accounts, the facility is performing very well and keeps improving.”
“We have an incredibly good relationship,” he says. “They were an integral part of our team, and together we achieved an extremely good outcome.”
Integrity and care
Moving forward, NS Group aims to continue delivering high profile, one-of-a-kind projects like the Scarborough Beach Pool. They also aim to continue providing front-end advisory services along with their project management services, and they believe the Scarborough Beach Pool is a good example of the kind of commercial outcome they can achieve when clients come to them for both.
More generally, Damian says the group aims to grow. They plan on doing that in a controlled and methodical way, but ultimately they believe “the sky is the limit.”
They are supported in that belief by their recently-appointed Chairman Ross Donaldson – who is the former global CEO and chairman of the famed architectural and consulting practice Woods Bagot.
“He was the person behind the growth of Woods Bagot from a small Australian company to the sixth largest architectural firm in the world,” Damian says. “Now he’s highly motivated to help grow our company.”
As NS Group grows and enters new markets, however, Damian also says that they will maintain the culture that first made them successful in Perth.
“It’s very important to us that we have a collegiate environment, where everybody that works with us feels like they are part of the team,” he concludes. “We want to be known as being a leader in the market in that sense. We want to maintain that level of integrity and care.”For more on NS Group, the depth of their services, and the values that drive – and for more on their many award-winning projects, including Scarborough Beach Pool – visit http://www.nspm.com.au/