“Aussie leaders trimming the fat and eating lean”

written by Wayne Brown

G’day mate! …

Yes, you probably guessed that I hail from the land down under – and just to be clear, that means Australia, not our smaller cousins and cobbers from across the waters in New Zealand (although I did spend 6 years working in our elevator-escalator tribe in NZ, but we’ll keep that adventure for another blog).

Anyway please excuse me if I “waffle on” from time to time or if it seems that I’ve gone “walk-about” with my thoughts, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to showcase the mother land or use the mother tongue – actually I’m not sure can still speak native Australian?

In fact, it’s been close to 15 years since I last called Australia home – at least as a resident. Departing January 9, 2005 for Shanghai seems like an eternity ago and whilst I have always had the opportunity to return home at least annually to my parents place in Brisbane, it’s not quite the same living out of a suitcase.

And just so we can get a few of the stakeholder expectations addressed early on, here’s three of the cute, fury guys that we’re famous for – well at least the first two are cute and fury, the last one famous perhaps, but definitely not so cute and mainly feathers..

Our journey this trip …

My career commenced in January 1978 and has provided me the opportunity to live and work in most states and territories of Australia. As a result I was tempted to cover the whole of the country in this article, however you will be pleased to see, I’ve decided to limit myself to a recent trip, where I conducted a Leadership workshop in Sydney and went up north to Brisbane/Gold Coast for a couple of days to relax with family.

This leaves lots of room for future articles covering other areas such as Australia’s new #1 state – at least that’s the prediction – the “experts” are suggesting that with-in 2 decades Melbourne will strip Sydney of her title as the largest and premier city. Can’t wait for that heated debate to start over :(.

And to add salt to the wound perhaps, the 2018 Business Insider ranked Melbourne (2nd), Sydney (5th) and Brisbane the (22nd) as most livable cities in the world.

BTW, Australia is a continent (not an island!) with a small population which has just exceeded 25 million. And to quote one of the travel websites …

“it has the most astounding rate of betting on the planet with more than 80 percent of Australian adults participating in wagering and 20 percent of the poker machines on the planet are found in this part of the world... and

the country is absolutely into different kind of sports, whether it is Hockey, Cricket, Football, they are excellent in numerous sports and have brought laurels to the country.”

Kicking off the journey with Sydney …

I’ve lived in Sydney twice – the first time when I started my career with this tribe in the mid-80’s, working as a service technician and the second for a short 12 month stint at the end of the century and millennium – i.e. 1999 as the NSW Construction Head. – WOW, I just realised that’s 20 years ago.

They were very different times compared to today and hopefully as an industry we’ve learnt and grown.

The view as you approach the city from the harbour mouth

The population of New South Wales in the year 2018 was 7.982 million – with Sydney comprising 5.7896 million. Sydney is growing quickly – so quickly in fact that it might have as many as 7 million residents by 2060 – not much smaller than the population of London today.

The elevator-escalator business …

Cranes in a skyline have long been one of our industry indicators for the buoyancy of business. It’s serves as a predictor of our future, given that we all operate in a value chain which follows the product life cycle – customer orders fill our factories, which supplies our installation business and ends up (for the most part) in our service portfolio and hopefully with a new lease on life through modernisation.

During boom construction times, all aspects of the business flourish

In Australia the residential and commercial growth has been very healthy for the past half dozen years. Most capitals have witnessed a transition to inner city apartment living, which in turn has spurned an explosion in demand for medium and high rise buildings.

So much so that the governments have needed to reciprocate through mega infrastructure projects and approval for complexes which offer a communal living environment – this formula has become the norm with most major areas across the country. Inner Sydney city has been no exception with Barangaroo being one very large and classic example.

A quick search for key infrastructure and commercial projects underway in Sydney, reveals substantial development.

However, one link in the chain which has been going against that trend depicted above, is the maintenance market where the construction growth has over-shadowed, even concealed, a tightening service business. The resulting effects are lower prices, which in turn have placed greater demands on efficiency gains through automation and digitalization, through more skilled labour, reduced maintenance frequency and shortened site visit times.

As this articles title suggests, the days of fat 10+ year contracts seems long gone and only the lean and agile will survive. We note that this is a national issue, not restricted to those locations covered herein.

Tallest buildings in Australia …

Interestingly Sydney is not home to any of the top 5 habitable buildings across Australia and soon with the completion of Brisbane’s Skytower and Melbourne’s Australia 108, it will not figure in the top 10. This field is dominated by Melbourne with Brisbane/Gold Coast contributing.

This of course excludes Sydney Tower (Centrepoint as I used to know it) as it’s not deemed as a habitable building. The two graphs below illustrate the status as it stands today.

  1. Q1 Tower, Gold Coast 322.5m 78 floors
  2. Sydney Tower, 309m 19 floors but not considered a habitable building
  3. Eureka Tower, Melbourne 297m 91 floors
  4. 120 Collins Street, Melbourne, 265m 52 floors
  5. 101 Collins Street, Melbourne, 260m, 57 floors
  6. 1 Williams Street, Brisbane, 259.8m, 46 floors

Standing at 108 storeys and 388 metres tall, Australia 108 will be 91 metres taller than the Eureka Tower, also designed by Fender Katsalidis, and will become the world’s 19th tallest building on completion.

A bit of the touristy stuff before heading north…

Sydney definitely has plenty to offer everyone that visits. And depending on your taste of course will govern your preferences. Here’s a list of my favorite must sees.

  1. The harbour – from multiple vantage points. Check out the city view from Taronga Zoo at night.
  2. The beaches – Manly and the northern beaches, Bondi and the eastern beaches or any or the more secluded.
  3. The bridge – if you have the passion for feeling free with the wind in your hair (don’t mind height) take the climb
  4. The Rocks and Circular Quay – to take in more of the above and enjoy the ambience and food.
  5. The Zoo – nature lover or not, its a great short visit, and as mentioned the views are spectacular.
  6. The surrounding cities North Shore, Chatswood, Parramatta – all major locations in themselves
View from below Taranga Zoo on Sydney’s North Shore

And so we journey north…

Our first stop as we transverse out of NSW and into Queensland is the Gold Coast, which forms the border between these two states. Famous to many around the world for it’s endless stretch of accessible coastline and white sands.

A bucket list destination for tourists of all ages and cultures. Now I’m a north Brisbane local and therefore grew up with the Sunshine Coast beaches lapping on my doorstep, but I must admit to spending many enjoyable and memorable New Years Eves in this part of the world, celebrating the new year (twice) due to the 1 hour time difference caused by day light savings in NSW.

Common practice for the locals is heading to Coolangatta at the southern most town in Queensland and where it’s possible to walk across the boarder into to Tweed Heads (the northern most NSW town) for an early New Years celebration. After wetting the whistle (having a couple of ales) it was then a few steps back across the into Coolangatta for celebration # 2, one hour later.

Sleep on those occasions was seldom a consideration, as it was customary to be an early starter for a round of 18 holes to kick start the year in the right way. Oh to be that age again!!

View from the southern end of Gold Coast looking north towards Surfers Paradise

Currently with 11 skyscrapers exceeding the 150m mark Gold Coast ranks in the top 100 cities world wide for buildings above this height. Below are a list of the top 10 for your interest.

1 Q1 Tower 2005 323 m
2 Ocean 2020 258 m
3 Soul 2012 243 m
4 Circle on Cavill North Tower 2007 220 m
5 Hilton Surfers Hotel & Residences Orchid Towe… 2011 188 m
6 Sundale Apartments 2016 180 m
7 Jewel Hotel 2019 170 m
8 The Dorsett and Star Residences 2022 167 m
9 The Oracle Beach Tower 2011 165 m
10 Circle on Cavill South Tower 2006 158 m

During my stop, I took the opportunity to meet with a colleague for breakfast on the observation deck of Q1 and as you can see from the panoramic views it’s quite the location.

To my final destination during this trip …

For the benefit of my southern doubters, I’m starting here with a list of the 10 tallest buildings – just as evidence that we “Brisbane-ites” does understand what the term high rise is all about. In fact 17 buildings over the 150m mark and ranking as #68 in the world. That compares with 41 in Sydney and a whopping 67 in Melbourne. Yeah well maybe on reflection, Brisbane doesn’t have so many 🙁

1 Brisbane Skytower 2019 269 m
2 The One 2020 264 m
3 1 William Street 2016 260 m
4 Infinity 2014 249 m
5 Soleil 2012 243 m
6 Aurora 2006 207 m
7 Riparian Plaza 2005 200 m
8 One One One Eagle Street 2012 195 m
9 443 Queen Street 2020 184 m
10 300 George Street 2019 182 m
This picture from a decade earlier before a number of the top 10 buildings where constructed

With the population of Queensland in the year 2018 estimated as 4.9286 million and Brisbane itself with only 2.41 million, we have always been seen as the poor neighbor to our southern colleagues and for some, they would venture to comment that we are the hillbillies of the litter.

“The small country town, where you go for a holiday but wouldn’t want to set up camp.” So unkind ….

The good news (at least for us that own property near the city) is that in recent years, we have started to attract some serious overseas investment with Queens Wharf and the Brisbane Live entertainment underway. In addition, it seems that the local government may have finally agreed to proceed with the Cross River Rail project !!!

In fact here’s a list of 5 additional major projects, excluding the three mentioned above.

  1. Northshore Parklands
  2. Brisbane airport redevelopment – International & Domestic
  3. Howard Smith Wharves
  4. Brisbane Quarter – 300 George Street
  5. Brisbane Metro

And to finish with some more touristy stuff …

Here’s my favorite 5 must sees in and around the south east Queensland greater area, time permitting.

  1. North and South beaches – i.e. Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast
  2. Visit the islands – Stradbroke or Morton islands
  3. The hinterland areas – Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast
  4. The parks – Lone Pine & Australia Zoo
  5. And to finish with a toss of coin – either select a Westfield shopping centre (yes I know, but’s an experience) or visit one or more amusement parks on the drive between Brisbane and the two Coasts.

Our next adventure, takes us to the sprawling Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I’m conducting a Sales workshop. Its more than 10 years since I was last there, so I’m very keen to see what changes and progress have been made, in particular in relation to our elevator-escalator tribe.

Until next time, stay safe…