For Wood & Grieve Engineers, superior performance is just the beginning
When school chums Tony Wood and Kip Grieve were ready to open their mechanical and structural engineering practice in 1961, they flipped a coin to decide whose name should get top billing. That friendly, seemingly innocuous gesture would set the tone of equality, fairness, and love of chance that would help propel the company to the highest echelons of Australian engineering.
A heady blend of industry-leading expertise, a thirst for challenge, and a commitment to nurturing the best and brightest vaulted the firm into enduring prominence.
According to company CEO José Granado, what set the firm on its stellar trajectory is a simple, humble concept: giving a hoot. “What we do is not just work,” he recently told VENTURE. “We care for the job, we care for our clients, and we care what our clients think of us at the end of the day. We really are proud of what we create and we enjoy what we do, and our purpose on every job is basically to be recognised for the way we did that job.”
With a slew of awards to their credit, including a remarkable eight total and seven consecutive nods from Aon Hewitt as one of the country’s best employers, today’s Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE) attracts top talent from around the world. In addition to its Perth headquarters, the firm has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Albany, and Busselton, and boasts a staff of 600.
“We predominately do building services and land subdivision work in Australia, and within building services there is a wide range of markets, including retail, commercial, and health, and we play in all of those spaces,” Granado outlined. “Our area of expertise lies in the health space, stadia, and to a large extent, specialized data rooms, which is an area of growth that we are targeting going forward.”
One of the multitude of jewels in the WGE crown is Perth’s world-class Optus Stadium, to which the firm provided design and documentation for the electrical, fire engineering, fire protection, mechanical, sustainability, technology, and vertical transportation components of the project. Winner of top honors from the Australian Institute of Architects, the 60,000-seat project is a paean to state-of-the-art technology that puts fans first.
Featuring the widest range of seating and hospitality options of any stadium in the country, Optus features full 4G Wi-Fi coverage and a stunning bronze façade that reflects the beauty of Western Australia by day and uses LED lighting to display team colours by night. “The project gave us an opportunity to build something for the community that we can all be proud of and that will be a wonderful community asset for decades to come,” Granado explained. “It is a true example of the benefits achieved when great clients, contractors and consultants work together and are aligned in their focus of delivering exceptional service and outstanding outcomes.”
On the cusp of global prominence
As we went to press, WGE was about to merge with global design and engineering leader Stantec, a move Granado described as a meeting of like minds. “When we met with the Stantec team it was clear their vision, values, and culture were pretty much aligned with ours,” he noted.
The partnership will allow WGE to grow at a brisk pace, take on larger projects, and deepen their organizational structure to give staff more plentiful opportunities for upward progression. “We needed to fortify our business going forward to make sure we remain relevant in today's world and market and embrace our strengths, while at the same time allowing us to be masters of our own destiny,” Granado stated.
“The fact that Stantec has been around for over 60 years will offer us the world's best practice,” he added. “We will now be part of an international group, and through that we'll be able to bring more diverse service offerings to our clients.”
Staying at that helm is crucial to WGE’s identity, and with good reason. As the premiere building services provider in the country, they will grant Stantec a precious foothold in the region that can be leveraged throughout the Asia-Pacific. Both firms are dedicated to creating global best practices in design and engineering, as well as in fostering innovation in technology and workplace culture.
“Three key things were very important for us to consider going forward with Stantec: to provide more opportunity for our staff, diversify our service offerings, and mitigate risk,” he pointed out. “We did not need to do this. We established certain criteria that if we were to look for a partner, and price didn't come into it at all. Culture came first, second, and third in those criteria.”
And what a culture it is. The firm prides itself on being a great gang of folks who love to be together, and is fiercely devoted to cultivating a diverse, inclusive workplace. To attract the world’s next generation of brilliant engineers, Granado posited, “We first have to ensure that there is a market related, employee value proposition. That's the standard. You have to make sure you can compete in the market for good staff.”
That staff, in Granado’s view, must reflect the world. “You need to bring different ways of thinking to the table. People say, ‘You have such a great culture! Don't you want to clone every person you already have?’ The answer to that is, ‘No, we don't!’
“We want people to bring their own personalities to work and we want them to be different. I think that it is 100 per cent the diversity of a business that is responsible for creating the best possible environment, and it shouldn't be a big surprise that it will usually result in being dubbed the best company. Some of the world's best companies are the best because they have tremendous diversity, and I'm a firm believer in that.”