Building strength out of strength

Building strength out of strength

South Australia-based Unique Urban Built specialises in designing, constructing and managing contracts.  

Current and previous works include new-built projects, multi-story projects, civil works and infrastructure works, hospitals, schools, swimming pools. Unique Urban Built also handles projects in rural and remote communities outside of Adelaide. 

Operating across multiple states with a vast amount of experience within the company, Unique Urban Built is able to deliver projects based on strict timelines and varying complexity. The relationships the company builds with its customers separates it from the competition. 

Jack of all trades

Unique Urban Built doesn’t specialise in one particular area. Instead, the company’s main focus is being the best at a variety of large-scale jobs. One of these is the Adelaide Aquatics Centre, which remained open for business while Unique Urban Built did civil concrete work.

“We were able to deliver the project on time and within budget with a variety of subcontractors in a way where the public was very safe and with minimal noise,” said managing director Nathan O’Neill. “Operation in a live environment carries important considerations, including understanding what we need to deliver for the client and the nature of their business.” 
Unique Urban Built has multiple management systems in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its employees. The system is catered to the operations of the business.

“We operate with safety and environmental measures at the forefront of each and every project,” said O’Neill . “And we detail these as senior management, where we evaluate each project to undertake a full assessment of potential risks and implications. “We detail exactly what our plans need to be to prevent and minimise any potential risks. We do that for every job, no exceptions.”

According to O’Neill, the management system is very workable. It’s housed in the main office and dialed in through a portal so it can be accessed from each of the sites. From there, the company is able to access it at any time and gain a better understanding of the jobs for day-to-day purposes. 

Relationships are key

O’Neill believes that communication is the key to fostering and developing supply chain relationships. Although supply chain issues arise at times, open communication and resolving issues while providing solutions ensures ongoing trustworthiness.  .

“I go out of my way to emphasize the importance of collaborative and effective communication with the team. We have fostered strong relationships with our contractors and suppliers,” said O’Neill. 
Unique Urban Built has chosen Westpac as its business banker, and has developed a strong union,  enabling the company expand its business when necessary. Both large and small contractors play a role in the success of Unique Urban Built, and O’Neill said their input and workmanship is valued greatly.

“One of the philosophies in the company is providing a great service to clients, because they need to deliver projects or have a project they need to deliver for themselves or someone else,” said O’Neill. “This is often dynamic; we try to facilitate that in many ways, but building relationships through great services is our key.” 

Building a great culture

According to O’Neill, the majority of Unique Urban Built’s employees have been with the company for many years.  

“They’re great people,” he said. “They’ve got integrity, they’ve got knowledge and the way they operate is very professional.”

Integrity and professionalism in the workplace is very important to Unique Urban Built, and O’Neill said he bases all of his conversations with employees on that premise.  No matter their background, every employee is provided the opportunity for growth within the company.

“Our team has created a culture, something we have all worked very hard at. This starts right with the team and extends to our contractors and subcontractors. As a team, we have structured an inclusive operating rhythm that has seen work become a thriving and rewarding activity,” said O’Neill. “A lot of people these days go to work and find it mundane. All they do is look forward to the weekend, and that is something that I don’t want to have as part of Unique Urban Built. A great culture within the workplace is important for me, and as a managing director, I am committed to supporting that in every way possible.”

Unique Urban Built’s continuous improvement measures always begin with its people. There is a large training matrix for employees, which is also where the retention of people is immersed in its philosophies.

“We try to train our people to the leading edge of construction,” said O’Neill. “And we make sure they also keep that traditional service line within their dealings of day-to-day client-related services.”

Looking ahead

Unique Urban Built will continue in its efforts to minimize its impact on the environment, incorporating new and emerging strategies into upcoming projects.

 “Our innovation really comes about from being able to understand the endpoint of the contract,” said O’Neill. “Innovation comes with being able to operate sustainably. We detail missions in our construction to make sure we reuse and recycle all of our environmental measures.”  

O’Neill is on the verge of personally launching a civil projects division that will undertake large-scale road and infrastructure projects. 

“Building on traditional service while undertaking large-scale projects for the delivery of government services is really where we want to make sure we go,” he said. “Obviously, through undertaking property development, we’ll continue building our property portfolio.”

Nathan O'Neil