Multiworks’ embrace of daunting critical infrastructure projects keeps the firm atop the civil construction industry leaderboard

For speciality contractor Multiworks Services Pty Ltd, complexity is a welcome challenge. Their highly successful work on high value, high risk projects has established the firm as a go-to civil construction partner for the nation’s largest utilities. Bolstered by an impressive list of accreditations, including that of the Federal Safety Commission, Multiworks is in high demand.

Managing Directors Alan Psaila and Richard Crosby have honed the operation to its sharpest, blending bedrock construction expertise with cutting edge technology. Its specialties extend far beyond civil construction projects to the full stack of engineering services, commercial building, design services, and remediation.

“Our aim as a business is to impress our clients with our ability to deliver these high complexity projects without compromise and with the lowest possible total cost of ownership in mind,” Crosby told VENTURE. “The highly critical nature of our projects means we are always focused on retaining control. To do this we operate a large and modern fleet of plant and machinery and prefer to self deliver all elements of our projects wherever possible. This means having the right people, with the right experience—something we are incredibly lucky to boast.”

Established in 2003, the firm is accustomed to steady growth, but in recent days that expansion is moving at a furious pace and creating its own set of challenges. “We try to see that challenge as more of a journey, as the business matures in its ability to handle larger and more complex projects. Staying agile, utilising the skills and experience of our staff, and constantly learning, whether it be from experience or mistakes, allows us to keep moving forward,” Crosby said.

“We’ve always been very proud of our relatively flat management structure and in times of rapid growth, we’ve had to refocus our resources and priorities quickly. Having simple and clear lines of communication between our staff and customers means we can be agile in responding to their needs and reprioritising internal requirements.”

Crosby credits a flat management structure supported by the strength and collaborative nature of the Multiworks team for propelling the company’s steady forward progression. “We look to lock in what we learn by adapting our processes, systems, and technology to the level of growth we manage to attain. This means that when the next wave of growth comes we are prepared and ready to tackle new challenges, rather than old problems,” he added. “Ultimately, we want to connect great projects with talented people. From a management perspective, this simply means giving them the tools and resources they need to be successful.”

Dynamic and Dedicated

Established in 2003 in Melbourne, Multiworks has a slate of 374 completed projects to its credit. In addition to its Melbourne HQ, the firm has an office in NSW and serves clients in the ACT, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia.

In the early years, the now tech-powered enterprise existed with a single server in the back office with a network drive. “This meant that if I needed to access files when out on site I either had to transfer them onto my computer or wait until I was back in the office,” Crosby recalled. “We knew that as soon as we hired more people it was going to become an issue. A few months later, thanks to some advice from a friend of mine, we moved to G Suite.

“When the business was small I was able to add new users and administer the domain. As a much larger company, G Suite is the central technology to our collaboration and communication. This meant that in the face of COVID-19 we seamlessly moved to online meetings and working from home arrangements. Like with many businesses, COVID-19 has accelerated our adoption of these technologies, and I only see this as a benefit going forward.”

Since 2012, Multiworks has been a key contributor to Project Edison, an ambitious redevelopment project to modernise electric power terminals that feed Melbourne’s power needs and one of the largest projects of its kind in the country. To date, Multiworks has delivered over $80 million in civil and building works in the project whilst maintaining  a sterling health and safety record.

The stations remained operational as work progressed; work on the Brunswick and Richmond terminal stations is complete, whilst work on the West Melbourne Terminal Station will remain underway until 2022.

Our involvement in Project Edison has taught us so much about stakeholder management. Having been at Richmond Terminal Station for over eight years, you really develop an appreciation for what a healthy working relationship looks like,” Crosby said. “Transparency, especially with respect to commercials, is paramount to the success of a project and creates trust and confidence. This means we get decisions faster and everyone enjoys the process without being bogged down in the minutiae.”

Their work on Project Edison added significant credibility to the firm’s ability to tender and deliver large and complex projects. Said Crosby, “We always believed that we were able to deliver projects like this, but convincing clients to believe you when you only have experience delivering projects with values of $10 to $20 million is a much harder sell. There really is no better advertising than having a project you can take a client to visit and say, ‘This is almost $100 million in civil and building work’. They instantly know you have the capability and credibility to deliver.”

“Also, working with clients like AusNet Services, and particularly their major projects team, gives you an opportunity to learn from their depth of experience. Frankly, their approach to health and safety is industry-leading and having worked with them for more than 15 years we’ve been able to significantly speed up our adoption of best practice safety systems and cultural alignment of our staff—which is why we’ve been able to have the success that we enjoy today.”

The opening of their NSW office in 2017 is the result of a long history of executing successful electricity infrastructure projects. “Since opening the office we have been delivering an assortment of projects with different disciplines but the most significant work has been the Greenacre Zone Substation for Ausgrid,” Crosby reported.

“Built adjacent to the existing sub, the project involved the construction of a new building to house both 33 kV and 66 kV equipment including cable basement, switchroom, control room, and amenities, construction of 3 new transformer bays and over 1 km of deep excavation for trenching for new conduits.

“Our NSW focus has very much been on broadening our network of clients and marketing our capabilities and experience. Our priority will be to continue winning $2 million contracts,” he said.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have some very talented employees join our business over the journey. They’ve helped us develop the business to handle risk and ensure that we’re in control of large and complex projects,” he added. “We’ve had great clients and we have been willing to tackle challenges proactively, meaning we have been able to make changes that ultimately improved the project’s outcome and make it safer and more cost-effective.”