Perth-based Tier 2 construction firm PACT Construction combines the responsiveness, accountability, and agility of much smaller companies with the backing of large-scale efficiencies, strength, and financial security of parent company the ABN Group.
Before joining PACT Construction, General Manager Jason Thomson held the Melbourne-based position of GM of Building for John Holland’s Southern Region, and before that worked for Multiplex WA for 12 years in the position of Regional Director. With over 25 years’ of experience, Mr Thomson has been involved in numerous major construction projects including Crown Towers, Optus Stadium, the new Woodside HQ, Fiona Stanley Hospital, and the Royal Hobart Hospital. Having worked previously with PACT and moving on to other opportunities, Mr Thomson has recently returned to the company to lead the team. Mr Thomson spoke with us recently about his own longstanding relationship with the company, some of the projects PACT currently has in development, and the simple goal of further establishing the company as the top Tier 2 contractor in Perth.
“The PACT business is the commercial construction arm of the Alcock Brown-Neaves Group (ABN),” Mr Thomson explains, “which has been around since 1978. The PACT business has been in operation since 2004, so eighteen years young. We’ve completed $1.6bn worth of construction projects in that time.”
The company does not specialise in any particular sector, but works across a wide range of important industries, including age care, education, multi-residential, commercial, health care and many more.
“We originally started up just to do internal projects for the ABN Group, and their developments with different business partners. Over the 18 years we’ve been in business we’ve branched out, with most of the revenue now from external projects. We’ve generally got one or two internal projects that we’re developing at any one point in time as well.”
As a strong Tier 2 contractor working exclusively in the WA market, PACT’s staff of nearly 70 help take in around $130-180m per year. The company often has between 6 and 10 projects in delivery at any one point in time, and normally takes on projects in the $20-100m bracket.
On returning to PACT after broadening his experience elsewhere, Mr Thomson is clear on how well things have worked out for him. After helping the company in its early days, he was recruited again when the original General Manager stepped down.
“[My career] has come full circle actually,” he says, “it was quite serendipitous how it all happened. The previous GM, who started the business, we worked together before, and he bought me into the business when it first started. I was there for a couple of years just setting it up and putting in processes and procedures and hiring staff.”
The timing of his reintroduction to the company was fortuitous, as it fell at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as Mr Thomson was in Melbourne at the time and would have been looking at a long period of lockdown had the opportunity not come along.
PACT Construction currently has 7 projects in delivery, including Stage 2 of Bob Hawke College in Subiaco, the State Government’s flagship secondary school worth around $40m, due to be finished in late 2022.
“We’ve got 6 other multi-residential projects, ranging in value from $25m up to $60m, dotted around the Perth CBD and in various stages of construction. We’re currently negotiating 3 projects, which are an early contractor involvement type arrangement with the client.”
The company differentiates itself from competitors by being a ‘relationship-first’ based business. WA is a small place, and with lots of networks running through the area, it is important to maintain a genuine, authentic, relationship-based approach to business.
“We’re flexible in our approach. We’re a private business owned by a larger private group, so we’re not constrained by significant corporate governance or systems, processes and procedures that you have to have in larger businesses. We’re very much a values driven business, and that comes from ABN and its owner, Dale Alcock. Passionate, authentic, and just transparent and real in our approach with our clients.”
PACT’s number one goal is to establish itself as the best Tier 2 contractor in Perth, a reality no more complicated than being a $130-180m business, taking on a range of projects and delivering them well and safely, and having both the client and company enjoy the process.
This goal comes with a backdrop of choppy waters in the industry, with the pandemic having the same effect in construction as it has had across the board. Added to this are the geopolitical and economic pressures the entire world is facing, meaning nobody has an easy ride right now.
“WA is particularly resource industry driven, it’s 45% of our economy, and relies heavily on blue collar workers. We’ve had our borders closed, we’ve had a shipping crisis, a global supply chain crisis, we’ve had constraints on our labour force because we haven’t had any net migration. We’ve got an infrastructure boom, a resources boom, a housing boom, and a construction boom all at the same time. So it’s been a little bit of a pressure cooker in WA.”
The best solution for PACT at the moment is to continue focusing on projects already in progress, working closely with subcontractors and suppliers, pre-purchasing materials to mitigate escalation and having a laser focus on preparation and planning.
“Right at this moment we’re really only looking at negotiated projects,” Mr Thomson concludes, “in lieu of competitive tendering, and working with our clients in an open, collaborative and transparent manner so that we have a shared approach to escalation risk.”
By maintaining a relationship-first approach, and focusing on a key area of the country, PACT looks all set to continue growing into the future, despite the difficulties caused by current industry conditions. Find out more about PACT Construction by visiting www.pactconstruction.com.au.