BGC Australia’s largest homebuilder
BGC (Buckeridge Group of Companies) is an integrated building, materials and contracting firm that was established in 1960 by Len Buckeridge. Fuelled by a passion for free enterprise and a desire to provide affordable housing, Buckeridge created numerous internal capacities (including his own quarries), which eliminated reliance on other parties. This saw BGC grow as a vertically integrated conglomerate and is now one of Australia’s largest privately owned group of companies. BGC has a vast distribution network across Western Australia (including centres in Perth, Broome, Albany, Geraldton, Esperance, and Kalgoorlie), and a turnover that exceeds $2.5 billion per annum.
As a result of its vertical integration, BGC has freedom that other companies do not have. Not only is it Australia’s largest homebuilder, it has a commercial construction arm, BGC Construction, that has built some of the most notable commercial buildings in Perth, including the award winning Perth Arena. Its divisions in contracting and manufacturing have also allowed it to serve as a major supplier for other builders, trade contractors, and renovators. It also has a retail service that sells directly to homeowners. Some of its products are insulation, windows, doors, security products, and roof tiles, as well as bricks, plasterboard, cement, panels, and steel. BGC is proud to be the largest, most modern, and most versatile manufacturer in Western Australia. As a leader in innovation, BGC is constantly seeking to develop new products and services.
According to BGC Residential CEO Kelvin Ryan, about 60% of a house is provided by BGC Companies. The unique vertical integration structure means that BGC is the best placed builder for affordable homes, especially for first-time buyers. “BGC are able to talk to our suppliers and because everyone understands the style price—volume price relationship, we can meet a price point, resulting in hundreds of affordable homes that otherwise would be more expensive” explains Ryan.
BGC also engages with the Indigenous community, and has a strong Indigenous employment program. According to Ryan, 25% of BGC Modular’s employees are Indigenous. However, Ryan states that it is not just the Indigenous community that BGC is involved in; rather, it is the community at large. BGC’s passion is in providing affordable housing. “We do it better than the rest …” explains Ryan. “So, in terms of community engagement, you can’t get much more engaged in the community than [providing] an affordable home for them.”
BGC is also able to work directly with other suppliers and industry-related associations to deliver benefits to the community. “I think it’s critically important to have relationships with them,” says Ryan. “It’s where players in the industry can come together and pursue industry initiatives.” He explains that the players are not always aligned, but that there are more opportunities available to be aligned. He believes that they ought to “collectively pursue outcomes.”
Due to its housing perspective, BGC is more interested in delivering outcomes on the ground than receiving awards. Standing up at industry associations and accepting awards is not really what we’re about,” explains Ryan. “… it’s not something that we seek,” He states that the best award is the day to day business of getting more people into a home that otherwise they may not have been able to afford if it wasn’t for BGC.
He mentions that, from a commercial perspective, the most outstanding awards were the ones that were received for the Perth Arena, and BGC is proud of them simply because they show what the organisation can do in terms of style. However whilst BGC is Australia’s largest homebuilder, within BGC’s housing companies, awards are not aggressively sought after.
“We are not interested in a industry group handing out awards, we are interested in building a home that someone wants to live in,” Ryan states.
BGC is also especially concerned about the environment, and is embracing sustainable recycling practices. Again, the unique vertically integrated structure means that BGC operates its own supply companies, product manufactures, etc., it is far more able to control its resources and avail itself of recycling. “I guess what you’d say is that we’re early adopters of sustainability practices,” says Ryan. For instance, when other builders were pushing back on the six star energy efficiency requirements, BGC accepted them twelve months prior to the mandatory industry deadline.
Ryan explains that there is only one standout issue for their industry, and that is the availability of land. Land is always in short supply, and it is the shortage and cost of land that stands in the way of people purchasing their own homes. “[There’re] three big issues in Perth for our industry,” Ryan states. “The first is land, the second one is land, and the third one is land.”
Ryan worked in the resources industry (mining and manufacturing) before coming to BGC. Working mostly for large public-invested corporations, he sought out a company that had a large corporate backing, but a private/small company mindset. He says that he found the best of both worlds in BGC, explaining that while it has a big balance sheet, big cash flows, and big ideas, it has a private company mindset. Ryan explains that his personal milestone is the business milestone because BGC is very family-oriented, and that one’s personal desires are apart of the business desires, which are what make the organisation’s model successful.
On March 11, 2014, founder Len Buckeridge passed away. Ryan states that Buckeridge was “very much larger than life” and a big part of BGC. “You cannot talk about BGC without [mentioning] Len Buckeridge because they are one and the same,” he says. “It’s the end of an era, but the start of a new era, too.