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Vaughan Constructions: Building customers for life

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For over 60 years, Vaughan Constructions have been pioneers of Australia’s ever-developing architectural landscape, and have grown to become one of the country’s most reputable and trusted companies in commercial, and industrial construction, leading the way in innovative and sustainable building methods.

Vaughan Constructions’ Managing Director, Andrew Noble, who first joined the organisation over 30 years ago, spoke to The Australian Business Executive about his development with the company, and how it has grown to become one of Australia’s most respected industrial and commercial builders.

Pioneers of industrial construction

Vaughan Constructions is a “private company, founded in 1955 by Kenelm Vaughan in Melbourne,” Mr Noble says, adding that “Kenelm Vaughan was a pioneer of the design and construction industry methodology, particularly in industrial construction in those days.”

According to Mr Noble, the success of the business lead to Mr Vaughan recruiting two of his sons into the organisation: “Two of his [Mr Vaughan’s] sons, Ken and Matthew Vaughan, joined the business in the early 80’s and rose through the ranks to take senior managerial positions, culminating in joint Managing Director roles.” Once the Vaughan brothers had taken the baton from their father, they “continued to grow and diversify the business,” which has had a significant impact on what Vaughan Constructions is now capable of within the industry today.

Developing talent

Another contributing factor is the company’s focus on customer satisfaction – a concept Mr Noble strives to continue as Managing Director of Vaughan Constructions. Through his directorship, Mr Noble targets compliance and governance, permeating the ‘Vaughan Way’ amongst the organisations’ staff to ensure their clients benefit from their unique processes, systems, and culture.

Since joining Vaughan Constructions in 1988, Mr Noble has managed all aspects of the design and project construction management delivery chain, and his passion for developing talent has contributed to the company’s deep pool of construction resources.

Mr Noble began his career at Vaughan Constructions’ apprenticeship programme, and continues to apply the company ethos of seeking and developing talent through this method. He explains that “many of our most senior construction staff are graduates of our apprenticeship programme,” which invariably leads to long tenure and staff retention within the organisation, and has allowed the company to grow and expand nationwide.

“We have over 125 staff [and] we have offices in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland,” Mr Noble says. The diversity and geographical footprint of the business means that at any one time, Vaughan Constructions will be working on projects ranging from $5 million to $150 million.

Unique in longevity and diversity

Celebrating their 65th anniversary in 2020, the longevity of Vaughan Constructions’ establishment can be considered a rarity within the design and construction industry, which is something Mr Noble is proud of. And naturally, with longevity comes experience. He says, “Having a building contractor with that depth of experience is unique. Despite the fact that we’ve [Vaughan Constructions] been around a long time, we haven’t fallen into the trap of being complacent.”

This refusal of complacency has allowed the company to not only become, but continue to be innovators within the industry. As Mr Noble says, Vaughan Constructions have “Managed to retain a very innovative culture within the business,” adding that “it’s very important that we focus on remaining nimble and agile because the world changes quickly,”

As with any industry, the design and construction industry is ever-changing and developing – a fact that Mr Noble addresses head-on: “We need to either, one: respond to that change, or, two: we actually need to be the people that are innovating, that are causing that change.” According to Mr Noble, it is this continual strive for innovation that sets Vaughan Constructions apart from other building contractors. 

In fact, the organisation is known for pioneering various methods that are now well established within the design and construction industry: “There’s lots of things throughout our history where we’ve made significant contributions to the industry where either methodologies or systems techniques that we’ve come up with have actually been adopted by the industry,” Says Mr Noble, adding that “That’s something we’re pretty proud of, but more importantly, we’re looking to continue that innovation.”

When faced with the reality that the building industry has a very low barrier to entry creating a fluid or transient competitor pool, Vaughan’s concentrate on themselves and continue to push forward with their progressive culture. “It’s a compliment when others, particularly the so called ‘disruptors’, imitate your business. A good haircut & slick website can only mask the shallows of a construction business for so long. And only certain aspects of a business can be copied. The intangibles, which could be our greatest asset, remain unique to us and our clients are the beneficiary.” 

Vaughan-Constructions-2-The-Austalian-Business-Executive
“The best news about it all is that it’s performing beyond expectations for Dulux, and they’re particularly pleased with the result.” - Andrew Noble, MD

Adapting to constant change

Throughout his tenure at Vaughan Constructions, Mr Noble has found some of the most important aspects of success within the industry are adaptability and forging long-term relationships on all levels of the supply chain. He says “There’s various lead indicators that are the catalyst for innovation and change in our industry” adding that “Probably the greatest [lead indicator] is consumer behavior.”

While adapting to consumer behavior is undoubtedly key to the organisation’s success, Mr Noble says other aspects include designing a supply chain to maximise efficiency plays a significant role, and that “Long-term, solid relationships are important – not only for our business, but for our customers”.

It’s these long-term relationships that are pivotal to ensuring Vaughan Constructions continue their success, as Mr Noble states that “I think that long-term partnership approach has actually served us well over the years. We’ve got relationships that go through multiple generations, both on our client side and also on our subcontractor and supplier side.”

Not only is ‘Building Customers For Life’ the Vaughan Constructions slogan, it’s also the mantra which is deeply ingrained within the business, or as Mr Noble says himself, Building Customers For Life is “Something that we live and breathe,” and that more often than not, his company is getting it right.

Embracing diversity

The building and construction industry is a highly diverse market, and Vaughan Constructions endeavours to apply their standard-setting innovativity when facing such issues. Speaking of the industrial sector as one of many potential examples, Mr Noble says “On the supply chain side there’s dramatic developments in automation and philosophy that has been largely lead by consumers,” which has lead to an industry-wide rethink regarding how products are distributed, including, but not limited to the location of warehouses, how products are delivered to them, and the type and level of automation within warehouses.

Award winning design and construction

Over the years, Vaughan Constructions have picked up multiple awards for their innovative construction projects – many of which the company are involved with from concept to completion. One of the more recent significant projects was the Dulux Paint manufacturing project at Merrifield, Victoria. Although the project was a sizable 20,000㎡, Mr Noble says, “its scale was really in[side] the building and what it was doing”, and that due to its complexity, “You really have to take the approach that you’re reinventing the wheel”.

As these types of projects are significant investments for the companies Vaughan Constructions work with. The equipment housed within the facilities needs to be able to service those companies efficiently for long periods of time.

The Dulux Paint manufacturing project, which Mr Noble notes comprised over a thousand tonnes of steel, 12,500km of stainless steel tubing, and 17,500 stainless steel fittings saw Vaughan Constructions awarded with the Victorian Master Builders Award for its category in 2018, along with the overall Master Builders Award – a first for the industrial construction category. Remaining humble regarding the company’s recognition for the project, Mr Noble says, “The best news about it all is that it’s performing beyond expectations for Dulux, and they’re particularly pleased with the result.”

Other projects included in Vaughan Constructions’ impressive portfolio include the Woolworths Melbourne South Regional Distribution Centre, a project of “monstrous scale and complexity” which has a footprint of 70,000㎡. The project, which was an investment of $560 million for Woolworths and incorporates some of the latest automation technology from Europe, won an award at the Property Council of Australia for innovation.

Vaughan Constructions have been pioneers of Australia’s ever-developing architectural landscape

Although the brand recall for Vaughan Constructions lies mainly in complex, large-scale buildings, Mr Noble says, “The businesses competencies and capabilities extend well beyond these bounds. World leading food facilities for example,” which covers the production, storage, and distribution of all food groups. Along with food facilities, the company is also gaining recognition in other sectors, namely educational and commercial facilities.

The future of Vaughan Constructions

Due to their longevity, Vaughan Constructions are always planning ahead: “We tend to do 10 year business plans,” says Mr Noble, adding, “We’re at the end of our latest one, and thankfully we hit all of our targets, and we’ve also achieved all of our aspirations.”

With the company now planning out their next decade, Mr Noble says, “Most importantly, for the business to keep driving over the next 10 years, we have to maintain the focus on our customer[s], and we have to provide innovative and outstanding customer service. That will stand us in good stead for the future.”

As expected from a company that has experienced such longevity in a customer-centric industry, Vaughan Constructions long-term goals focus on continued growth: “The growth that we look for is sustainable growth – we don’t look for sugar hits”, Mr Noble explains, adding, “The growth will come from diversity. We’ll continue to look for markets where our talents and capabilities can lend themselves very easily,”

Having recently received their FSC accreditation, Vaughan Constructions will now be provided with a revenue stream where projects are either fully or partially government funded, which Mr Noble says is an incredible opportunity for the business.

Although other areas of growth include expanding their geographical footprint, Mr Noble is confident Vaughan Constructions’ growth will keep in line with their slogan – Building Customers For Life, stating, “Primarily, growth is going to come from looking after our existing customer base, and making sure we continue to produce a product that serves people well and stands the test of time.”

Find out more about Vaughan Constructions by visiting www.vaughans.com.au.

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The Australian Business Executive (The ABE) provides an in-depth view of business and economic development issues taking place across the country. Featuring interviews with top executives, government policy makers and prominent industry bodies The ABE examines the news beyond the headlines to uncover the drivers of local, state, and national affairs.

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