The construction sector took a big hit in 2020, with this year’s global pandemic bringing our great city of Melbourne to a grinding halt. It was a big blow to our clients, candidates and friends in the construction sector, so we’re on a mission to share some good news stories from within our network; the movers and shakers who have been designing, developing and building our landscape - literally!
We couldn’t think of a better example to start with than to share some of the great stories from the team at commercial construction and project management experts, Directitude Management. We sat down with the company Founder and MD, Dave Miller, to gain some insight into what it takes to build and thrive in challenging times.
Dave, tell us a little bit about Directitude Management?
Established in 2014, Directitude Management is an all-encompassing commercial project construction management, fit-out and joinery company specialising in hospitality, retail and commercial office spaces.
Whilst our head office is located in Melbourne, we work throughout Australia and our ambition is to build our team and establish offices in various state capital cities.
Here at Directitude, our core values are honesty, integrity, consistency, balance, confidence and trust. These values have been solid since our inception. In fact, the name ‘Directitude’ is a hybrid of the words ‘direct’ and ‘rectitude’, meaning honest.
We offer holistic and customised construction solutions to the highest quality, with design integrity, and functionality. As well as expertise in hospitality operations, commercial kitchen design and procurement, as well as custom joinery manufacture.
With commercial building licences and relevant state project management licences Directitude is well equipped to operate as principal contractor/ builder and client side Project managers.
Earlier this year Directitude Built was formed, and over the next 12 months the construction and fitout arm of the business will transition under this new banner, with interstate work already being carried out by this arm of the group.
The construction sector has been hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, particularly in Victoria. To what extent has this impacted Directitude Management?
As the Managing Director it is important to keep business goals and targets focused. Ironically, in the six months leading up to the beginning of the first lockdown in March, we were already anticipating a quieter period which we had planned to use to upskill and restructure certain aspects of the business, so I believe we were more equipped and organised to manage the downturn than most.
However, during Covid lockdown, our targets stalled and others had advanced. During this period we managed to become registered with the Construction Suppliers Register (CSR), obtain building licences in other states and undertake a complete overhaul of our WHS systems & procedures. We certainly find ourselves in the competitive tender market more than we had anticipated pre-Covid!
Melbourne-based projects have been put on hold and programmes have slowed, however we have also made new contacts and connections which will hold us in good stead moving into the next QTR of this year
Sounds like you’ve made good use of this downtime, keeping busy and productive! How have you navigated this downtime and maintained staff morale and what have been some of the key learnings, initiatives or developments to come out of this year?
Whilst we have not been able to grow our team during this time, we have had the opportunity to take stock, re-focus and move forward with our factory set up, which now gives us the ability to manufacture joinery completely inhouse
Keeping in touch with the team has been key in keeping morale levels high. The isolation and remote working can be difficult and often presents distractions. Our weekly team meeting via video has also been a good platform for interaction, collaboration and creating focus. We also make time to have a laugh and connect with the community by way of social media interactions.
Other key outcomes for us include maintaining a regular social media presence, launching our new website and developing new clients and contractors.
The swanky new redevelopment of the Albert Park Hotel has been one of Directitude Management’s latest notable projects. Having this hotel go into lockdown at the time it was due to launch would have been disappointing for many. Tell us a bit about this project.
The Albert Park Hotel was originally built in 1883. The original design was Georgian inspired, then later the façade was altered to reflect an Art Deco period, which featured circular port holes.
Over the years the hotel has experienced many changes, then in 2017 we embarked on the complete redevelopment and during the process we encountered many challenges and delays.
The client, consultant team, architect and Directitude Management worked collectively to formulate a new vision for the venue. This included an additional level and maximising the building envelope. Directitude Management and Visioneer Builders are extremely proud of what has been achieved through the construction process. We effectively demolished the entire building, retaining just three main heritage walls. These walls were propped and retained by using an elaborate steel façade retention system.
Directitude Management alongside KBR Commercial Kitchens are immensely satisfied with the kitchen development, utilising B&S Commercial Equipment which included woks, a steamer and duck oven. Meiko ware-washing and glass-washing has been used throughout the venue and Williams Refrigeration has been used in the bars.
The team of Directitude Management Carpenters and FD Construct were tasked with creating the Tasmanian black wood wall and ceiling and wall cladding. Mentes Joinery have manufactured and installed some sophisticated custom joinery items and Directitude along with novo Q create many of the internal and external bespoke tables.
Albert Park Hotel is now reborn with two levels of hospitality and two levels of office space. Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought upon us, we are proud to have been involved in such an iconic project.
Pics above: The Albert Park Hotel stripped back to leave just 3 heritage walls with an elaborate steel façade retention system.
The result is magnificent and a credit to all involved! What have been some of the other key highlights for Directitude Management over the years?
- The formation of our construction arm, Directitude Built, which initially will be involved in interstate works and next year will head up construction works in Victoria.
- The Ville Resort & Casino - Spending almost three years intimately overseeing the complex refurbishment of this property to help our client, Morris Group, realise their transformative vision, Directitude’s experienced team have managed the process from inception to completion, drawing on their extensive knowledge providing end-to-end project management for the hospitality and retail sector.
- Portsea Hotel - The team undertook two significant renovations of this summer institution, most notably the major renovation in 2018 where we had teams of JV Recruitment Carpenters working with us for almost five months. The blackbutt decking was a huge task, with the added challenge of laying the deck at 45 degrees!
Other notable projects include:
- The Kent Hotel
- Woodlea Aintree Kitchen and Café
- Herald Living Apartments
- Raffles Perth
- Cherry Bar
- Hotel Westwood
- Jimmy Grants rollout
- Hellenic Brighton
- Bob Sugars Torquay
- DM HQ
...plus many more! We consider our approach to projects unique as we become so invested in the vision set by the designer and client.
Pics above: Aerial shot of the completed Portsea Hotel & a look at the completed outdoor seating area
What is most important to you when partnering with a recruitment partner to assist with your hiring needs?
An intermit understanding of the business operations, values, culture and projects is important to enable the right placement of temporary and permanent employees. The recruiter needs to ensure the right candidates are well presented and the screening process has been thorough to avoid expectations not being met.
Finally, what do you anticipate the outlook for the construction sector is beyond this pandemic?
The landscape is forever changing. I believe businesses, more so than ever, must be prepared for the unexpected. As a business which specialises mostly in the hospitality sector, we have looked at diversifying and looking at other sectors however, hospitality will remain our main work stream.
It’s a wise time for operators and landlords to undertake renovations and refurbishments as there is very good value in the market and I expect this to be the case for the foreseeable future where margins are being cut to secure work.
The construction industry is critical to the state and national economy and there will be further Government work fast tracked. I am also hopeful that the planning process for small to medium sized projects can be streamlined. Overall I am relatively optimistic as to how the construction sector will fare post lockdown, although it most certainly will be different to pre Covid.
If you are currently seeking recruitment or career advice relating to construction, engineering or business support, reach out to the team at JV Recruitment. Contact us by calling 03 9377 5800. We're here to help!