Hichory Group

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Hickory Group | February 2015 Pu

| Hickory Group Hickory Group is a Melbourne-based family-owned business that was formed by brothers Michael and George Argyrouin 1991. Over the years, they have grown the business from a small operation working out of their parents’ garage to become one of the biggest and most respected construction companies in Australia with approximately 500 staff members. In particular, they are highly regarded for their construction of large apartment buildings, having been listed as the No. 1 Multi-Unit Builder by the HIA Annual Housing Top 100 for three consecutive years. Today, Hickory Group is focusing their efforts on high-rise projects in both the commercial and residential sectors. They have also expanded their services beyond conventional construction to become leaders in prefabricated construction. ushing the Boundaries

Hickory Group | February 2015 “We’ve had a lot of success in delivering modular buildings that are assembled very quickly onsite, which are more sustainable and built twice as fast as regular buildings,” says Marketing and Communications ManagerNadia Salajic. “We’ve also launched a new business unit delivering modular bathrooms, where we literally build the whole bathroom offsite in our factory and install the finished unit into a conventionally constructed building.” “The benefits of our prefabricated building systems are that they are faster, cheaper, safer, and more environmentally sustainable than conventional buildings,” she adds. “For instance, if we’re building a structure in our factory rather than on a building site, it means we’re checking quality much more efficiently than going up and down a sixty level building to check that everything has been done properly. It’s a lot safer for staff because they’re not doing a lot of work at great heights on the edge of the building, and it’s also safer for pedestrians because everything is enclosed, which means materials can’t fall outside of the building.”

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Hickory Group | February 2015 THE HICKORYWAY Their systems are also efficient in terms of sustainability, Nadia says. By doing such detailed modelling up front, Hickory is able to “only order what’s needed in terms of material because we’ve already completely mapped out what’s required for the building in detail.” “So there’s very little waste. Depending on the project, there’s 50 to 90 per cent less waste produced using our prefabricated building systems.” Nadia explains that their Hickory Building Systemshave helped the business forgea reputation as being “very innovative” – a reputation that has been bolstered by official industry recognition. Recently, for example, Hickoryranked fifth on the BRW Top 50 Most Innovative Companies 2013/2014, placing them ahead of every other construction company on that list. “It’s always been about pushing the boundaries and finding better and more efficient ways to build more safely, quickly, and affordably,” Nadia remarks. According to Nadia, Hickory is set apart from the competition due to their wide range of in-house capabilities. This makes them “more agile,” allowing them to share re-

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Hickory Group | February 2015 -sources across projects, and generally operate faster and more efficiently. It also gives them more control − and subsequently exposes them to less risk − because they’re handling the bulk of the work themselves without having to outsource work unnecessarily. “A lot of construction contractors operate more as project managers, so whilst they hire a lot of people to manage the projects, they generally just contract out the bulk of the actual building work to other subcontractors,” Nadia explains. “Hickory is a bit different because we’ve taken on a lot of those capabilities in-house. For example, we have our own concrete division, our own structures division, our own carpentry division that does all the interior building fit-outs, and our own teams installing façades where they’re designing and engineering window systems and procuring themdirectly through our own employees offshore.” “In addition to all of those divisions, being able to prefabricate bathrooms andwhole structures in our own factory means that we have a lot of different tools at our disposal, so we can choose whichever will be best for

| Hickory Group a particular project,” she adds. “So, if we’re building in the middle of the city and it’s a small site with not a lot of access for deliveries, we can build the bathrooms in our factory instead. It makes it a lot easier in terms of logistics and site management.” Even with nearly 500 employees covering a vast array of services, Hickory goes above and beyond to ensure that their systems are standardised for optimal quality control. Hickory boasts numerous certifications including the three internationally recognised standards for Quality (ISO 9001), Environmental Management (ISO 14001), and Occupational Health & Safety (OHSAS 18001). “A big part of getting and maintaining these certifications is having standardised processes,” says Nadia. “As a construction company, we have lots of different people working onsite, so we bring it all together by making sure people are documenting what they’re doing and capturing lessons learnt. As such, we’ve established what we call the Hickory Way – an online toolbox that literally has standardised forms and processes for

Hickory Group | February 2015 each step of the construction project.” “It makes it very easy to ensure that everybody is following the same reporting processes, capturing the right amount of data, and doing the right things with that information.It also helps us control all of the different projects we have going at one time to make sure everyone is working according to the standardised forms and procedures.This way,everybody knows what they should be doing and has the right tools and resources necessary at any given point of the job.” Nevertheless, there are still times where companies as large and diverse as Hickory need some external assistance. While they’re able to self-perform the bulk of their projects, Nadia indicates that Hickory enjoys several longstanding relationships with suppliers and subcontractors alike. “Of course, there’s still a large degree of subcontracting on any job, and you need to work with companies and consultants that have specialised capabilities,” she says. “A lot of our suppliers and subcontractors have been working with us since the start, and their businesses have grown with ours,

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Hickory Group | February 2015 FINDING THEIR NICHE so it’s definitely quite a collaborative culture in that way. We work very closely on every project with the development team, architects, services consultants, electrical contractors, plumbers, acoustic engineers, structural engineers – there are so many people that go into delivering a large-scale construction project.” Hickory added to their extensive list of accolades in 2014.Their Hickory Building Systems won the API Victorian Division’s 2014 Property Industry Award, and the Ilk development they built in SouthYarrapicked up client Little Projects the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s VictorianAward for Best High Density Development. Nadia credits the victories to thecompany’s “really great team” and their high quality work. “Michael and George have done a great job with this business,” she says.”Although we have 500 staff, we really do operate like a family. Everyone we have working here is very dedicated and passionate, and the relationships we’ve built over the years attest to that. We do a lot of repeat projects for the same developers, and that’s not just due to a couple of people at the executive level− that’s because everyone working across an entire project has worked together to get the job done right.” Nadia adds that while it’s always great to be recognised by your industry peers, Hickory is “not in it for the awards.” “The recognition is great, but we don’t want to rest on our laurels,” she says. “We want to keep pushing forward tomake things better because really, the way buildings have been built hasn’t changed that much in hundreds of years. Just because things have been done this way doesn’t mean it’s the best way, technology is evolving rapidly and maybe we can make building easier, cheaper, and less disruptive to the community and environment. That’s what we’re seeking to achieve.” Hickory aims to continue redefining the building industry in 2015.They are already off to a great start, having signed on five new high-rise buildings in Melbourne totalling approximately 1,700 new apartments− roughly the same number of apartments they’re currently completing.This includes a 69-level tower at 568 Collins Street− their tallest project to date −and two towers in central Melbourne for their Fulton Lane project, which is currently the largest single stage residential building under construction in Melbourne. Both projects are scheduled for completion this year.

| Hickory Group “We’ve definitely found our niche in building more tower and high-rise projects,” Nadia explains.”There have certainly been a lot of approvals inMelbourne and other capital cities for taller buildings, and that’s because there has been a shift in terms of more people moving into urban areas and living in apartments, which wasn’t really happening in Australia 10 or 20years ago. So, we see an opportunity for Hickory to keep building these very high quality apartment and highrise developments in not only Melbourne, but in other Australian capital cities as well.” “We’re also looking to refine and develop our prefabricated systems,” she continues.”Our manufactured building products are patented and we have licensed our technology overseas. We have a joint venture with a company in China and we’re setting up a facility for manufacturing to deliver our systems for local markets there.” “We’ve got some really exciting projects that we’re going to be rolling out where we’ll be using new technology to deliver highrise projects that will really be world-first. In terms of the speed of construction, we’re talking about completing a 40-storey building in 12 months rather than over two years, which it would usually take.”

Hickory Group | February 2015