Georgiou has been on some journey in the Australian construction industry over the last four decades. From beginning with just nine employees back in 1977, the company has evolved into one of the nation’s biggest and most trusted construction firms. Today, the company has an impressive track record of successfully delivering a range of world-class projects, including various buildings, land developments and many of Australia’s most iconic roads and bridges. In July, inaugural chief executive officer John Georgiou (who assumed the reins in 1996) took up the position of chairman on the company’s advisory board with Robert Monaci appointed CEO. John speaks to AusBN about continuing core family values, areas of expertise, the firm’s current workbook and more.
“Our philosophy has always been around sustainable growth,” says Georgiou. “Prior to entering into new sectors, we ensured we had the right people to lead the journey and have been extremely fortunate to bring on board some of the best talent in the construction industry.
“In saying that, like any business we have taken calculated risks and entered new sectors with new clients. At the end of the day, that’s the only way you grow your company and luckily for Georgiou, we’ve been successful with these new ventures.”
The company was born with a set of core family values instilled by John’s father – Peter Georgiou in 1977, and as the name of the company suggests, these principles remain entrenched in the company today, despite it boasting more than 600 employees. This is reflected in the fact that Peter, now in his 80s, is still a permanent fixture on many of the company’s current projects.
“The beauty of Georgiou’s culture is that it cannot be imposed upon its employees, rather it develops as a sum of its parts.
“If you look at our workforce today, there is a handful of current employees who have had fathers, uncles and grandfather’s work for Georgiou – the fact Georgiou has been such a strong part of their family is extremely unique. Those family values that dad promoted in the early days have carried through to today.”
Georgiou’s construction capabilities stretch across a broad number of areas including public infrastructure, transport (road and rail), mining, oil and gas, urban redevelopment, building construction and precast.
For the first 30 years, the company’s services were primarily focused in the Western Australia market, but it has recently expanded into the East Coast with offices in Sydney and Brisbane.
“Internally, Georgiou is split into ‘business units’ which define what type of work they deliver, for example building and infrastructure,” explains Georgiou.
“The reason we do this is because I’m a big believer in passion for the job. Engineers love to build things, but the team that builds a bridge or tunnel is very different to a team who deliver residential buildings. Each business unit has a team with the right capability and skillset for that area of work.”
However, over the past few years, the company has taken on more complex, technically challenging projects which have necessitated a combination of business units working together to ensure the delivery of the project.
“Having this in-house service offering of civil and building capability is our competitive advantage and separates us from our competitors,” he claims.
Georgiou works very closely with its clients throughout the construction and pre-construction periods – the firm offers an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) service – on any given project, which allows Georgiou to fully understand the needs of a client and deliver on those requirements.
Georgiou’s capabilities at both the construction and pre-construction phases were highlighted by the successful delivery of the award-winning Aubin Grove Station project, located South of Perth.
The company was awarded the ECI and Design and Construct (D&C) contracts for the building project by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and was tasked with providing assistance in collating the Development Application (DA) along with various stakeholder engagements during the first phase.
During the second phase, Georgiou demonstrated its trademark practical skills and began working on the build of the multi-modal station with approximately 2,000 parking bays, the Western and Eastern entry buildings, a pedestrian bridge across a vehicular freeway and main rail line as well as many other essential amenities.
The AUS$72 million project was not without its challenges, which included working between two live and fully operational 22kV train tracks and the busy Kwinana Freeway, but the critical D&C phase was completed in February 2017 ahead of an official opening two months later.
Furthermore, a recent example of Georgiou’s capabilities in the civil construction space is provided by the completion of the Old Mandurah Traffic Bridge Replacement project in March 2018. Georgiou began the D&C contract at the end of 2015 and was able to deliver the finished project to its client, Main Roads WA, on time and on-budget.
Key aspects of the project included a peak personal of 90, no lost time to injuries and zero environmental incidents, despite being located in an iconic and environmentally-sensitive area of the city.
Overall, Australia’s construction sector has endured a slow start to 2018, with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing only a 0.2% increase in the value of construction work done to $51.2 billion during the first quarter.
However, this figure does represent a 5% increase in the value of construction work year-on-year, and Georgiou believes that the operating environment within the industry is slowly improving, which is only a good thing for Georgiou’s future business across three states.
“In Western Australia, we are definitely seeing an improvement in the construction sector. I believe it has bottomed out and we are starting to see a lot more tenders released across a number of sectors.
“Plus, in Queensland and NSW they are currently experiencing a high level of construction activity across the infrastructure sector.” In fact, the chairman explains how Georgiou’s East Coast expansion was timed with the slowdown of the West Coast to give WA employees development opportunities in Queensland and NSW.
“The Federal Government is set to spend $75 billion on infrastructure over the next 10 years and Georgiou is well-positioned across the country to capitalise on a number of these projects,” says a confident Georgiou.
“Georgiou currently has a very diverse portfolio of projects across transport, building construction, urban regeneration and renewal, defence and water infrastructure.
“This year we will deliver WA’s first Direct Factory Outlet, the Telegraph Road Upgrade Stage 2 and Gold Coast-Springbrook Road projects in Queensland and the M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade (Weakleys Drive and John Renshaw Drive) and New England Highway Upgrade at Bolivia Hill projects in NSW.”
With a number of contracts also set to be announced in coming months, the future looks bright for Georgiou.