12/03/2008 - 22:00

BTS Geyer designed to fit

12/03/2008 - 22:00

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The merger of St Georges Terrace-based design agency Blake Thornton-Smith with national player Geyer is as much about the emergence of Perth’s economy as it is about office interiors.

BTS Geyer designed to fit

Touted as the natural combination of two long-aligned businesses that are leaders in their markets, the merger of St Georges Terrace-based design agency Blake Thornton-Smith with national player Geyer is as much about the emergence of Perth’s economy as it is about office interiors.

For the outsider peering into the merger, it appears Perth’s resources-fuelled market has become too important for Geyer to lack a direct presence, but too big for BTS to exploit to the full.

The firms have already collaborated on major projects, working together on the fit-out of Woodside Petroleum Ltd’s new offices in 2003 and recently making a joint pitch for BHP Billiton Ltd’s planned premises at City Square, the former Westralia II site being developed by Multiplex.

Geyer director Peter Geyer acknowledges that the merger fills a void in his business’s regional structure, and that it is important to have consistency across the markets it services.

Melbourne-based Geyer already ranges up the eastern seaboard and across the Tasman, as well as having recently established an office in Singapore.

Mr Geyer said his firm’s new projection into Asia with a physical presence there made Perth even more important because of the time zones.

“Clients want a firm that engages with them on an ongoing basis,” he said.

“They want to keep that thread going through the region.” In addition, there are BTS’s skills in the resources industry, a sector that understands the benefits of cutting-edge office design.

This is partly because of the sector’s strong focus on occupational health and safety issues, not to mention a skills shortage that made desirable and efficient workplaces worth the expenditure.

Furthermore, remote operations, emergency response requirements and high-tech operations led to a need for specialist space, such as command centres and control rooms, that did not feature in a typical office building.

“There is a lot of technological stuff that backs that up,” BTS cofounder Ben Blake said.

The resources sector includes engineering with its own specialist needs.

BTS recently won a contract for the design work for Clough Ltd’s new 12,500 square metre interior in the Alluvion office tower, under construction on Mounts Bay Road.

While BTS, chaired by business consultant Chris Chapple, had managed to project itself out of the state due to its emphasis on resources, Mr Blake said Geyer’s resources, such as its database and a big workforce, would help meet demand that was rising and becoming more sophisticated.

“Woodside was a precursor to a huge amount of work which, in terms of space, has been insatiable,” he said.

As for the merger deal details, Mr Blake said they were not joining the ranks of baby boomers selling out.

“It is not an exit strategy,” Mr Blake said.

He and co-founder Kim Thornton-Smith are taking shares in Geyer as part of the transaction and plan to stay on with the business.

“Both firms are focused on the future,” Mr Geyer said.

“We have been doing a succession handover.

I am not CEO any more, I want people to grow into that role while I am still around.” BTS has 10-12 staff, which will be combined with Geyer’s to create a group employing around 120.

It will trade as BTS Geyer in Perth.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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