High-Quality Construction with Exceptional Value and Success
ABNS recently spoke to Peter Devitt, Managing Director of L U Simon Builders Pty Ltd, to gain an insight into the history and operations of one of Melbourne’s most successful and respected building companies.
Peter explains that it all started in 1955 when Leo Simon established L U Simon Pty Ltd as a building company, he began his legacy by constructing specialised and prestige homes, Leo was later to become Professor Simon, the founding Professor of the School of Building at the University of Melbourne. It wasn’t long before he employed professionals and trade trained people to expand the company into the commercial, industrial, institutional and multistory residential sectors that have all helped the company grow into the business that it is today completing in excess of 858 Projects since 1955.
L.U. Simon Pty Ltd.’s activities were taken over by L.U. Simon Builders Pty Ltd in 1983, which was established for the specific purpose of introducing employees into the ownership of the business. Peter Devitt and Les Gordon, two committed, long serving employees and senior managers became director shareholders. In 1986, Peter and Les acquired Professor Simon’s interest upon his retirement at age 76. In 1989 the company was taken over by Girvan Ltd a NSW publicly listed company that wanted to be the largest construction company in Australia. In 1991 Girvan went into receivership and Peter and Les bought back the company from the receivers. In July 1996, two additional long-term employees, Terry Lewis and Jim Moschoyiannis, became directors and shareholders of the company. In 2001 and 2005, respectively, Frank Materia and Kane Devitt became director shareholders, in 2012 Les Gordon passed away and his son Darren took over as director shareholder controlling the family’s interest.
Over the life of the company we have built a dedicated team of key personnel who have demonstrated their loyalty and competence, the majority of our staff, including senior site personnel, are long-term employees. This is a unique achievement in the building industry, we have 2 employees that have served the company for in excess of 50 years, 5 employees with over 40 years’ service and 37 employees with in excess of 20 years’ service, we have 14 families of more than two generations and three families of three generations that have worked for the company.
L U Simon has project experience across all sectors of the industry, from medium to large scale residential projects ,retail and shopping centres, commercial, government/ institutional, industrial and multi-level carparking, refurbishment and fit-out, arts/heritage, special accommodation to city buildings up to 50 floors and iconic landmarks, the value of projects range from $10 million to $200 million.
“Involvement in valued engineering and cost planning is also a priority for us, ensuring the projects stay on the budget that was set in the earlier stages by the clients. We continue to demonstrate and explore innovative approaches to refine the process, thereby achieving and improving every project within or before the contractual deadline, staying on budget and within quality objectives,” explains Managing Director, Peter B. Devitt.
With a number of proven management systems developed over years of service, L.U. Simon Builders can provide and apply additional services that offer shared benefits for clients, consultants and the company itself through quality assurance and industrial relations. They have been able to develop and implement a committed philosophy within their system and maintain close working relationship and proactive attitudes to control issues and are committed to delivering and providing a construction process that takes into account the strict environmental standards and expectations of all major stakeholders on any project. They also maintains close consultation with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria and other regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of not just their site personnel but also the public at large by implementing of project specific waste management strategies.
We have the following approvals and accreditations:-
The Australian Government Accreditation Scheme number 381 for OHS (Federal Safety Commission)
Compliance with the Australian Government National Code of Practice for the Construction industry:
System Certification AS/NZS 4801:2001
System Certification OHSAS 18001:2007
System Certification AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004
System Certification AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008
L.U. Simon Builders has received numerous awards from the Master Builders Association, and has won over 20 leading awards at State and National levels for their excellence in construction and renovations. Such awards include, ‘Excellence in Health and Safety’ both in 2002 and 2003, multiple awards for constructing new buildings from under $5 million – $80 million, The major highlight being named ‘MBAV’s Builder of the Year’ in 2005.
L.U. Simon Builders feels that close working relationships are a key foundation for the success of any company and business. As such, they work closely with the Master Builders Association and numerous other industry associations. A significant amount of L.U. Simon’s projects are from repeat clients, and the relationships that they maintain with their subcontractors and suppliers are highly important in maintaining the success of their business model.
While Peter feels that the commercial construction industry has not fully recovered from the financial crisis that occurred several years ago, he has noticed an upswing since the change in government in 2013. “I believe that there’s a lot more confidence in the economy now than there was prior to the election,” he says. Peter also notes that the stability of interest rates is another major factor of this renewed confidence. L.U. Simon Builders have a good working relationship with the building unions that will help in the renegotiation of its EBA in the near future, as its employees play an important role in ensuring all projects are quality built.
Peter Devitt has been working with L.U. Simon since 1968, commencing as an estimator. In 1974, he became Chief Estimator, and became partners with Les Gordon and Professor L.U. Simon in 1983. Upon Professor Simon’s retirement in 1986, Peter became Managing Director. “We have a dedicated list of shareholders and directors in the company,” he says, “and the company runs extremely well.” Peter also served as President of the Master Builders Association of Victoria from 1992 to 1994. Peter is also an Honorary Life member of the Master Builders Association and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Building.