A few weeks away from a year in their new headquarters and the place is humming. Inside a raw industrial warehouse, one large central workspace is the hub where teams work together with flexible workspaces and meeting rooms, breakout areas and views through double-height sound insulating glazing into the joinery workshop beyond. Connecting the team was key to the new office brief that now puts shape to the company philosophy: encouraging collaboration between people and departments by bringing everyone together in one interactive workspace.
It is here in the thick of it that Andrew Johnson likes to be. Describing the business as “vertically integrated”, teams are bustling, working on every stage of a project from design through to joinery and construction. For clients this means it all happens in one place and that has proven to be a successful formula.
“We are three businesses all under the one roof, including a joinery workshop that is probably bigger than 80% of the joinery shops in Sydney,” Andrew enthuses. “The benefit for clients is they don’t have a separate project management company, joinery company, design company, and fitout company, all competing over margins. We communicate that so clients understand what we are offering. The clarity is essential.”
Doubling in size over the last five years, Intermain has focused on building teams that balance experience, as well as embracing new potential. During the process of designing their interior, instead of dividing departments into trades, design and management, with addresses in different parts of the city, the idea was to bring everyone together. The new space had to accommodate nearly 2,500 square metres of workspace, including a design studio, construction, project management, estimating and administration teams, and a 1,500 square metre joinery workshop.
Headed up by Intermain’s Design Manger Jessica Marinic, the program for the new office focused on integration and collaboration. Open plan workspaces filled with natural light, plants, natural timbers and materials, and simple detailing to fit within the building’s industrial fabric adds a layer of calm to the space. Maintaining the feel of the original warehouse, block work and concrete surfaces are left untouched, while soaring ceilings allow for a mezzanine level that provides interplay between floors and spaces for private meetings.
“We have a common goal to work on great projects so we are all working for the same outcome”, remarks Andrew. “It’s all about collaboration, and that’s how we approached this new office. If we’re all working on a project and trying to get it across the line, we can now all get together in one room. Design, administration, project managers, the joinery and site teams. We can lock ourselves up until it’s done.”
The all-under-one-roof approach also works for architects who spend time here reviewing and resolving details with the joinery team. They can then see first-hand how those details will be executed in the joinery workshop a few metres away. “We always tell the architects we work with, if you are designing something come here and we can all sit around the table and really understand the project,” explains Andrew. “From the moment an architect walks out the door we can closely monitor every stage because everyone is in-house.”
While Intermain’s work ethic hasn’t changed, the scope and breadth of work they do has. With a new office and team in Brisbane and projects in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, they have developed a thriving national business from a loyal client base in Sydney. Working on interstate projects with Centruria in Adelaide and Regus in Melbourne, Adelaide, and soon Canberra, has established their presence with some of the country’s leading companies.
“We have built our business on relationships,” remarks Andrew. “We’ve worked with Toll since the early 1990s and also with Centuria which was originally the Hanover Group, Many of our clients move from one company to another and will bring us over too. They come to us because they know that if we say that we will do it for a certain price, we will do it. It won’t change unless they want another 10 offices.”
With a connected team, many of whom have worked with Intermain for nearly 20 years, there is the sense that for Andrew it was about long-term thinking from the start. “I’ve always said that we want to be big enough for our clients but still look after the clients who helped us get to where we are today,” Andrew remarks. “For me personally 2017 is the year of concentration on the business and that includes the people who got us here”.