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Carman puts Benchmark at the forefront

BENCHMARK Projects managing director Chris Carman has built a lengthy career out of establishing landmark developments.

He has been the project manager behind some of the most notable Western Australian projects of the past 20 years, including the greenfields development of the Joondalup city centre, and the multi-award winning Mandurah Ocean Marina.

In 1988, as an employee of the Joondalup Development Corporation, Mr Carman was responsible for the establishment of Joondalup as a strategic regional centre.

He used that experience to establish Benchmark Projects in its current form in 2000 with fellow director Brett Chivers.

Mr Carman said early in the piece his aspiration was to establish Benchmark as an industry leader.

"I chose the name Benchmark because benchmark means the standard by which all others are judged," he said.

"That's basically been the vision statement for us as a business.

"The legacy I want to leave is being recognised as at the forefront of the profession, delivering projects that are not only landmark in their status, but that deliver a sustainable product for the benefit of the greater community."

Mr Carman is now setting his sights on managing the $40.8 million Albany Waterfront project for LandCorp and a proposed $40 million, 500-pen Port Rockingham marina at Cockburn Sound.

"I'm very much focused on the waterfront," he said.

"We're also working at the Australian Marine Complex, doing a service and supply base for Chevron. Anything to do with the waterfront, we do."

Mr Carman has also been appointed as project manager for the divisive North Port Quay proposal, which is yet to gain the government support needed to be assessed under the state's approvals process.

He said it was his main challenge to ensure success on contentious projects.

"They're very complex projects; they generate a lot of stress because there's a myriad of stakeholders to deal with, with conflicting interests," Mr Carman told WA Business News.

"You've just got to mould that to a consensus of opinion. Obviously looking after your client is number one, but we basically treat the project as ours.

"We treat the money as ours, so we take the project on board and live it, we breathe it.

"It's basically as if we we're funding it, which we're not, but we take that attitude."

With that strategy in mind, Mr Carman was hopeful that the North Port Quay proposal would be given a fair appraisal by planning authorities, despite negative comments made by Premier Colin Barnett.

"What (Colin Barnett) has said is that he personally doesn't like the idea, but he's qualified that by saying that it's not going to stand in the way of him making a decision that's for the good of the state," Mr Carman said.

While the development has not won the support of the state's leader, Mr Carman said independent research showed the WA public was supportive of the concept.

"We do statewide polling through Paterson's market research and our last polling result is sitting at 75 per cent statewide support for this to go through the approvals process," he said.

Mr Carman said he would not pursue the project if it did not produce a desirable outcome for stakeholders.

"Our preliminary analysis shows us there are no fatal flaws from a coastal engineering point of view," he said.

"If we get the government green light to go through the approvals process, if environmental studies find a fatal flaw, the project's finished.

"We're not going to be proceeding with anything that can't stand up environmentally."

The Australian Institute of Project Management recently honoured Mr Carman with the Western Australian project manager of the year award.

"It's actually the first individual award that I have won in the industry, so I'm pretty proud, but I'm pretty humbled as well,' Mr Carman said.

"From a company point of view, it lifts the profile of the company, but on top of that, it shows that the expertise that we've got in Western Australia is equal to anywhere in the world, if not better."

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