For 12 years, BDM Constructions has prided themselves on offering construction diversity to the local market. Formed by third-generation builder Brad Maggs – along with one of his six brothers – the company began with a focus towards residential building, and fought through the Global Financial Crisis to expand towards a more commercially orientated company. In late 2008, after his brother sought to pursue an alternative career in the haulage industry, Maggs partnered with good friend Austin Bell to continue to grow the business. The company now invests in a variety of projects from start to finish, crossing all disciplines of construction, to ensure a client’s wide variety of needs are met, all under the one banner.
Even through their positive propulsion towards the commercial building market, BDM Constructions still stays true to their core values. The company is committed to providing single-dwelling construction services to their loyal customers, as that facet of business reflects the initial “roots” that helped solidify their current reputation. “People identify BDM Constructions from where we’ve come from as home builders. Our targeted markets are all property developments, commercial & multi-res construction and land subdivision work. The unique operation of BDM that stands us apart from most other similar construction companies is that we’re able to do any part of construction, from the securing of greenfield sites for land subdivision right through. There are 5 departments within BDM, Feasibility/Consulting & Design, Shop fitting & Minor Works, Residential Construction, Commercial Construction, Excavation & Concreting. “We have the expertise to facilitate projects from design faze right the way through to delivery.”
Operating under the premise of a “one-stop shop” for clients, Maggs and his current staff – which have expanded from 12 to 50 in order to accommodate market demand – rely on community confidence to be able to grow their business. BDM Constructions currently has offices in Sydney and Port Macquarie, offering a wide range of quality, cost-effective services to both the local and broader regional market. One of the company’s main eye-catching business ventures is a $30 million apartment complex set to grace Port Macquarie very soon.
“The quality of what we produce and the service that we deliver is seen visually, this has realised a rapid growth as word of mouth from satisfied clients spreads the knowledge of our ability,” he says. “Our head office is centred on the NSW Mid North Coast and this allow us to cover the state with ease. Our Sydney office covers the metropolitan and outer suburban areas. Our performance in the city and regionally has seen the company grow exponentially over the past 5 years”.
We have a branding and a presence that everybody identifies to; our mission statement is ‘uncompromising quality is our foundation,’ and that’s something that we stand by, we try to make sure that we do not compromise. If it means something has to be pulled out and redone, that’s what will happen if aspects of our construction initially are not up to BDM’s high standards.”
The company takes pride in the diversity of services they can offer to their clients. In addition to the wide range of construction and design options, BDM Constructions also stands by a guarantee of investment for each project; this includes the establishment of agreements with outside investors, or partial funding from the company to ensure the project is approved.
“There’s not many companies that can actually carry out and acts as the lead consultant on a project right from the initiation of design through to civil construction and residential development delivery, all on the one subdivision,” says Maggs. “We can identify potential developments, run a feasibility study on a development, we can then have civil design underway knowing that the developer is looking at putting a multi-res development there, we can be working on the construction design for this in the background at the same time, with a different team from within BDM. Integrating those two things – there’s not many companies that offer that.
There’s been a massive amount of opportunity over the last two or three years, since we have become connected to some high-level network individuals and investment groups that are in the property development industry. They have grabbed hold of what we offer. So, the opportunities have just really opened up. We’ve been positioning ourselves in the market from the end of 2008, to be able to capitalise on opportunity when our skill set advantage was recognised by the right people and networks.”
Their emphasis on “uncompromising quality” is something that BDM Constructions has worked hard to achieve, as the importance of honest and trustworthy work is a core value within their managerial structure. “We’re the kind of people that have been taught work ethic from a young age,” says Maggs. “We were lucky enough to have parents that had very strong core values –
High morals, high work ethic – and we’ve just rolled our sleeves up and got into it as each opportunity has come along. We’ve assessed each opportunity and each opportunity taken has been a stepping stone to where we are today. We have no grand vision other than to be as good as we can possibly be in what we do.”
BDM’s commitment to value of being ethical at all times is a cornerstone the company has been built on – we’re very open book. We’re very straight-shooters. We don’t fluff things up too much, but we will never take for granted anybody’s commitment that they’ve made to us in investing with us, or choosing us to work for them and carry out whatever part of the service we offer that they’ve chosen to accept.
If you’ve made a mistake or something hasn’t gone as well as expected, address it head on. Don’t beat around the bush. Say that ‘this is the situation, now let’s work on the best outcome for all parties involved.’ They’re the values that have let us grow to the company we are today. There’s not one person that’s ever been successful that’s not made a mistake. We’ve made our fair share, and we faced them front-on and learnt from them.”
Born into the industry, strong working relationships have always been a key factor for Maggs and his family. Five of his six brothers currently work in the industry, including his brother Jim, who works as the company’s Operations Manager. Both he and his partner have a variety of friends and family working in the business, and these bonds have proven beneficial for the success of BDM Constructions. “Our commitment to building excellent relationships with our staff, suppliers and subcontractors is the hub of what makes something successful,” he says. “People that you can rely on make all the difference to being able to make a business into a success. People are what make up a company. You can have the Managing Director of a company that possibly has the right values and the right ideas; but if the people underneath them aren’t prepared to buy into them, success will be hard to find. Each employee needs to feel that they basically own a little part of that company and are making a positive contribution to the overall forward progression of the company.”
If you wish to excel and have a healthy sustainable business, you have to have people buy into that ownership of there role and create the culture that fosters this attitude towards their work. You’ve got to be prepared to go the extra mile. If you’ve got a supplier or a subcontractor that performs well and gives you great service, which needs rewarding with loyalty. We’re not necessarily going to look at taking the cheapest price. You still want the price to be within the realms of reality, but the cheapest price is very rarely the best, and the working relationships formed between your management, your on-site staff, suppliers and subcontractors, is the absolute key to being able to deliver high-quality, profitable projects.”
While BDM Constructions has managed to find continuous success within various aspects of the construction industry, Maggs recognises its complexity as a whole for other developing businesses. The growth of the demand on the housing industry in Sydney is a factor that may affect the future of many companies in the surrounding area, as well as the influx of international investors – especially within the apartment sector. Fuelled by oversupply in the apartment market, due to a drop in demand for apartments, which has been directly affected by the ability of Chinese investors to invest in the local market. The market could in the foreseeable future take a reasonable dip. The ripple effect – in some way, shape, or form – could be felt right across the industry, especially the Sydney apartment developments with a large percentage of off shore off the plan presold apartments.
Another major issue within the industry, according to Maggs, is the lack of skill level prevalent throughout the construction industry; this is something that he believes will have a gradual effect on the turnover of the industry and its suppliers. “The quality of trades and the quality of skilled people that have been trained in the last 10-15 years, is so much lower than those trained 10-15 years before that. So, there is skill shortage right across the board, and at the top of that is probably bricklayers as the trade is dwindling in high numbers. If something’s not done about it soon to promote becoming a bricklayer or a blocklayer – and I believe that the masonry manufacturers need to get right on board with this – they won’t be able to move their products as there’ll be such a lack of tradesman to lay them. That’s how bad it’s getting with bricklaying; but its right across all trades in some shape or form.
One of the largest problems is that your everyday Mum and Dad and your careers adviser at High Schools seem to think that to be a tradesman, you must be in the bottom 10 percent of academic performers, because they can lift heavy things. To be a good tradesman, you need to be a pretty switched-on character. You need to be driven and physically capable, but you need to be particularly strong in mathematics; the stronger knowledge you have, the higher education you have achieved, the better you are at thinking and problem solving, the better tradesman you’re going to be.”
From his own experience, Maggs believes that starting from the bottom provides the best pathway to success. “Make your way to the top by learning from the bottom up and picking everything up as you go,” he says. “If you know how to build it; you will know how to quote it properly; that will allow you to manage it properly. Coming in halfway along that process can be hard to backtrack – learn the basics. I’d like to put out there that you can be very successful and have a great career starting as a tradesman.”
While the initial direction of career path was a debate between a structural engineer and a P.E. educator, his eagerness to work drove him towards a career that required more hands-on learning, than pursuing university education after Higher School Certificate graduation. The family construction business provided Maggs with the satisfaction that he needed for physical application, and the apprenticeship offered by his father provided him with the ability to train in a comfortable, familiar environment. “I didn’t realise at the time how beneficial the decision was going to be, and it wasn’t a decision that was made with a lot of foresight. So, I probably had some luck come my way when I inadvertently became a carpenter & Joiner to a degree. However I do apply myself to the best of my ability in whatever I do and that has put myself and BDM in the position it is today.”
The fortunate position the company and myself finds its self in is not something that I’ve ever had a great vision to aspired to, but I just pushed myself to be as good as I can be, I have been fortunate enough to partner up with some very good people with similar ethics and outlook on life, from there what happens happens. The journey has seen some good people become lucky enough to work together – none more than my business partner, my fellow Director in BDM Constructions; I’ve been lucky enough work with not only my best mate but also witness his ability to help me drive this business to where it is and celebrate his equal success with mine as a team. We’re both very similar people in that we do not like to accept failure so we ensure that does not have to be considered as an option.”
Maggs is more than happy with the decisions he has made in having Bell as a business partner; their similar goals and core values allow them to see eye-to-eye when making key decisions, and their strong characters allow them to be critical of each other’s ideas when absolutely necessary. His younger brother’s presence as the company’s Operations Manager is another indication that friends and family can be ideal business partners, if they share the drive and dedication needed to promote the success of the business. “Austin and Jim are the absolute ideal people to do this with, if you can get past the big hurdle of the old adage mates, family and business don’t mix. I believe we have been an acceptation to this notion.”
Challenges can be frequent in any industry, even in the air of success. But Maggs’ path to where he is today can be viewed as an example of how determination can overcome any obstacles along the way. “If you have a look at where I’ve come from – being an apprentice residential carpenter, to now having a business that offers everything from design of subdivisions to shop fitting; has 50 employees; has a turnover of $40 million a year – there’s a pathway if you want to apply yourself to start as a tradie and ultimately own and run a large scale construction company.”