14/11/2017 - 15:55

Inclusivity builds opportunity

14/11/2017 - 15:55

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

AWB Building Co principal Graeme Kennedy cites the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as the key driver of his decision to set up his business three years ago.

Inclusivity builds opportunity
Vaughan Graham (left) and Graeme Kennedy say they have tapped into a growing market. Photo: Attila Csaszar

AWB Building Co principal Graeme Kennedy cites the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as the key driver of his decision to set up his business three years ago.

AWB, which now has more than 20 full-time staff, specialises in the design, refurbishment and maintenance of inclusive environments, with the business turning over $15 million in the last financial year, according to Mr Kennedy.

Leveraging past disability refurbishment experience, Mr Kennedy said he had noticed a shortage of local builders targeting this space, particularly after the NDIS came into effect.

“Off the back of disability regulations (the NDIS) I noticed more companies complying with the access rights of people needing wheelchairs, people who were blind and deaf,” Mr Kennedy told Business News.

“This work actually makes a change to someone’s life, and that’s what made me want to get back into it and set up my own business.”

From ramp installations, grab rails and bathroom modifications, to painting outdoor benches to provide easier recognition by the visually impaired, AWB has built up a pipeline of work across a range of clients including commercial office owners, the Salvation Army, aged care providers Baptist Care and Bethanie, as well as various local councils and schools.

Most work in the sector was funding-based, Mr Kennedy said, with the process from quote to tender often taking up to 18 months; this prompted a further decision to expand the business’s source of income and diversify its offerings.

AWB holds electrical, plumbing, gas fitting and painting contractor licences, and now comprises three core divisions: access modifications; projects up to $1 million in value; and day-to-day building maintenance,  targeting the facility management sector, securing contracts with Programmed, Spotless and Sodexo.

Operations manager Vaughan Graham said diversification of services had underpinned the business’s growth, completing 4,500 jobs in 2016-17 – about 3,000 more than the year prior.

“Disability access works got us in the door with a lot of places,” Mr Graham told Business News.

“Where we’ve done access works in the past, we can now offer them more services; we can do a modification at a school, but also paint the classrooms, change the light bulbs. Before you know it we’ve got six classes to do and the job’s now worth $100,000.

“One job leads to another.”

Mr Kennedy said another factor contributing to AWB’s success was that the team’s senior project managers were all financially invested in the business.

“I think this (disability access) is going to become a bigger market in Australia,” he said.

“In the city, older buildings are finding it harder to get tenants because more businesses now want a building that’s accessible to everyone.

“And people are now wanting to age in their own home if it can be modified and adapted.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options