Making it Personal
Saw Constructions is a project management company that is looking to set a new standard for innovation in the implementation of their clients’ needs and the fulfilment of their imaginations. They focus on both the individual client and the developer in Melbourne, and look to show just how much a small builder can actually deliver.
Steve Vranesic and Andrew Allen started the company after working together as licensed plumbers. “We worked extensively for builders over the years, and we decided that we would like to actually be the builders,” laughs Steve. “We are both now registered builders, and with that under our belts we started Saw Constructions five years ago, and really haven’t looked back since.” On choosing the name for their endeavour, Andrew says that they landed on Saw for a number of reasons. “The first is, of course, the tie into carpentry, and the idea of the physical act of building, another is that Saw contains both of our initials. You could almost call it ‘Steve and Andrew Constructions’,” says Andrew. Their humour and positive attitudes are infectious, and this has served them well when they interface with clients. Andrew says that they often select their projects by looking at the innovative aspects of a planned project. “We are a builder that can build for anyone, and we really like looking at projects that have unique designs involved,” he says.
Delivering the goods
Saw Constructions has both corporate clients, as well as individuals who are looking to make their dream home a reality. “We can build for anyone, from the person who has a large block of land, to those that have a piece of dirt. We can take them through the whole town planning process,” says Andrew. He says this is a big part of what they do, providing both expertise and guidance through the process. “We have people come to us who have seen their neighbours put up three of four townhouses and they will tell us that they could do the same, but they just don’t know how.” This is where the team that makes up Saw Constructions comes in, they help their clients make that first step, and then guide them through the rest of the journey. Andrew and Steve both say that one of the biggest advantages that Saw can offer is that they are there through the entire process, and actually have hands on experience with every stage of both development and construction. “We can take those people basically by the hand and guide them through the town planning process then construct their project. At the end we give them back their site with the completely finished project on it,” says Steve. This includes having all the landscaping & driveways into the finished development. This, he says, is important because it helps the client either sell their completed vision, or makes it easy for them to move into it themselves.
The benefit of thinking small
“One of the big benefits of having a builder do all that for you is that we can give them a very realistic figure on the cost of what it will be to build,” says Andrew. “When they come back to us they are not surprised by large increases to the cost of construction because we’re directly involved in the design stage of their project. This can happen when you have an unrelated third party solely focused design.” By being the planner and builder they are able to work the price downwards when they are presented with a reasonable budget, seeing that they are in control of every aspect of the build. “Again, I think one of the key benefits that we can offer is that we are the owners of the business and we [Steven and Andrew] maintain separate roles. Steve looks after the “front end” of construction from the initial client contact, pricing, contracts, estimating to the building permit. Once the job is at the site ready stage, the construction team manage all the aspects of the build & deliver the final product to the client. Effectively this means that when a client engages Saw, there is an owner of the business that they can directly interface with everyday. “We are with you from the moment you walk in the door to the moment that we hand the keys over. You have that owner direct contact all the way through, which I think is fairly rare in this industry,” says Andrew. He says that most other operators place supervisors on their job sites, making it difficult for the client to actually meet with the owner. This is not how Saw operates, and Andrew and Steve think that this speaks to their size, rather than anything else.
Signing their work with quality
They see themselves as a medium sized development company, with a small employee base. This has been a boon to them throughout their operations, and specifically became an advantage with the onset of the Global Finical Crisis. Larger firms have had a more difficult time modifying their approach to the market, but Saw’s relatively small size allows them to turn on a dime. “We actually have the ability to do each other’s job but our day to day roles are in line with our natural preference & what we enjoy doing” says Andrew. This means that vacation days, illnesses, or other unforeseen circumstances do not pose an issue for the two of them because each can take over the workload from the other. Simply put: rain or shine, the work gets done on time. “We can step into each other’s role and keep the whole thing going, we really don’t skip a beat,” says Steve.
“Where our signature shows itself on site, and also explains why we have so much repeat business, is that we absolutely finish our projects on time and on budget,” Steve says. He says that to get their clients their desired results they can tailor a personalized package for their development that fits within their budget or timeline, so before the job gets to site there are no surprises making the construction phases quick & smooth.
With their present capabilities, Steve says that they take on the development of somewhere between 40 to 50 dwellings a year. “That’s the number we are looking to stick at, because with that number of projects, Andrew and I can stay involved,” says Steve. “This is our job, this is what we do day to day and what we enjoy. We want to continue to work in the business; we really don’t want to bring in another layer of management. We are happy to continuing doing what we are doing, and part of that is giving the customer the best possible service we can,” he says. This focus has resulted in continuous referrals, and thus a continuous job pool in which to draw from. This, they say, has been their best form of advertising and the nice thing about being referred to time after time is that the recognition they are receiving comes from without, rather than from self generated press. This provides a sense of accomplishment for the two, something that they are more than happy to talk about. “We were getting asked a lot if we had a website, so we thought that we had better get one because everyone seems to be asking. The success that we have had has come without advertising, and in that sense I feel like we are pretty lucky. We haven’t had a forced exponential growth, it has been very organic and natural,” says Steve.