A fresh approach to project management keeps Stilcon Holdings climbing to the top
Strolling through HarbourTown for bargains? Check out that stellar overhead canopy. Got tickets to a concert at Rod Laver Arena? Their steelwork is part of the beloved landmark. In town for an expo at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia’s largest convention venue? You’re walking through Stilcon’s work. That’s just for starters.
Stilcon is responsible for erecting some of Victoria’s most beautiful and compelling steel work. If you see scaffolding around some of the area’s commercial and residential spaces, chances are you’re looking at Stilcon’s work as well.
Today, the biggest players in the AEC space choose Stilcon as a trusted partner for their most high-profile projects, depending on their dedicated in-house team to provide superior design analysis and project management, engineering, shop detailing, manufacturing, delivery, and installation.
At present, the firm has a multi-faceted group of companies all operating within the construction industry three divisions: Stilcon Holdings, which encompasses the company’s commercial steel fabrication and manufacturing services; Stilcon Hire, the company’s crane hire arm; and Stilcon Scaffolding, which provides scaffolding for across 3 sectors.
Stilcon’s 17,500 sqm production facility is well suited to the biggest of projects. It brings a workforce of expert draftsmen, welders, boilermakers, and technical staff together with state-of-the-art steel processing equipment. On the scaffolding side, the company’s in-house rigging crews operate a spectrum of erecting equipment, including 3 to 90 tonne capacity mobile cranes, boom lifts, scissor lifts, mobile welders, and fixed scaffolding.
A New Vision for Changing Times
“Whilst I enjoyed life in Birmingham it was and remains a gritty city to grow up and live in, it’s a colourful place with many colourful characters” he said. “The experiences have shaped the person I am today and have assisted me through my career, there are no better skills than life skills.”
Ballantyne is shepherding the company to another bold chapter in their history. “We want to move the company in new directions,” he told us. “The framework in terms of infrastructure and finance is already here. What we will do now is train our workforce to operate in an extremely efficient manner and remove all waste from any process we implement.
“In these changing times, if you are not internationally competitive you will never be locally competitive, so that is what we are focussing on.”
Having worked on some of the largest and most complex projects in his native UK and Europe, Ballantyne brings 25 years of head contracting experience to the table. He has worked with some of the best construction firms and individuals within the industry. Ballantyne’s operating formula has a very simple DNA.
“Having worked on both sides of the fence, I understand what the head contractor is looking for and what the subcontractor needs from the head contractor. For example, smart clients expect more than just sending a price and excluding all of the problems when we submit our tenders,” he explained. “We have to offer more than just that. We have to offer problem identification, problem resolution, smart procurement options, an extended logistics network with smart solutions. We must also open up our network of contacts to our clients and let them see for themselves how far that network reaches into the wider local and international marketplace.” Evaluating projects from the lead contractor’s point of view is a significant differentiator that will keep Stilcon rising above its competitors as it heads into the future. “Change is always difficult but also very rewarding, and in this changing marketplace we have secured new clients who have seen the value in new ways of doing things, which is pleasing.”
As several of the state’s high-profile projects unfold and begin the procurement phase, Stilcon is in prime position to leverage a potent combination of hands-on expertise and strategic insights to the construction firms leading them. “The Victorian construction sector has been and continues to be a buoyant market place. The city and wider suburbs continue to grow with education, health, and infrastructure works programs in full flow, which is fantastic for local companies. This steady pipeline of work will allow the steel industry to employ and train young people, ensuring the future of the Victorian manufacturing industry remains both competitive and up to date with modern techniques,” Ballantyne noted.
The company’s reputation for quality, timeliness, and ingenuity is evidenced in the challenges Stilcon takes on without hesitation. Said Ballantyne, “Everything the company undertakes will be produced to the highest standard, and these standards are continually being pushed to the next level.
“A particular project called for an extremely complicated and beautifully designed set of curved stairs. The client was also insistent that the delivery date must be met due to it being a landmark project in the CBD.” The result? “The sheer quality and craftsmanship is eye wateringly beautiful and all delivered on time and to budget — need I say more?”
Ballantyne does not stop there. “We also want to bring new income streams by grasping our opportunities firmly and swiftly. We are now offering an integrated steel and CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) product to the marketplace. There is no one else offering this combined product, and as the availability of sites for development become too expensive or planning is restricted, we will see more and more existing sites being developed by building above the existing building. It makes sense: The landlord keeps his revenue from existing tenants and increases his yield and site value. We have the existing infrastructure and extended supply chain to position ourselves very nicely in the marketplace.”
Through decades of success, the company values have remained intact, Ballantyne explained to VENTURE. “As with many companies shouldering the demands and expectations of a changing marketplace, we must keep our values of integrity and hard work as they are the cornerstones of good business and even better business relationships.” What does Ballantyne believe will keep Stilcon operating well in to the future? “We must also remember to remain flexible,” he said. “If you’re like the Great British oak tree and remain strong but rigid, a 100-year storm will take you down and you’ll never recover. We will be like bamboo, nimble but strong, able to flex in all weathers and never be taken down.”