Corbel concentrating on bigger builds

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 12:18 04/06/2014
Craig Jones
David Hallett/ The Press
REBUILD 'BOGGED DOWN': Craig Jones, director of Corbel Construction, at a building site.

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Christchurch building firm Corbel Construction is placing more emphasis on larger commercial building projects, although it is still busy with earthquake repairs and residential projects.

Corbel has done insurance-related residential repairs including some for Crown-owned claim settlement firm Southern Response. It has also been working on commercial and residential apartment rebuilds in Park Tce and Chester St East on behalf of Vero Insurance.

Corbel director Craig Jones said the Christchurch building and construction management firm had been through growing pains related to the Canterbury earthquakes and the city rebuild "does feel like it's got a bit bogged down lately".

There had been a slow start to earthquake repairs although that work was flowing through now.

Traditionally, half the company's revenue was from commercial projects and half through residential. That diversity had helped it in some years when one of those sectors was particularly quiet.

The company achieved revenues of $11 million in 2011/12, building to $17m in 2012/13, and for the past seven years it had averaged 30 per cent revenue growth year-on-year, Jones said.

"The big change in the last year has been the size of commercial jobs. We made a conscious decision about 18 months ago that if the business is going to grow much further we needed to change the skills set and transition the business . . . part of that is turning towards larger commercial," he said.

One recent commercial win had been a Canterbury District Health Board contract to build the new child haematology oncology centre at Christchurch Hospital. Corbel was also helping carry out extensive structural works to strengthen the four-level clinical services building to support the the oncology centre refit.

The new oncology centre, to be completed by the end of the year, replaces an existing facility and will be one of the more significant projects undertaken by the company's commercial division to date.

"It is also consistent with our goal of undertaking larger commercial construction projects with a particular focus on the health and education sectors," Jones said.

The build cost for the new oncology centre was expected to be about $5 million, adding to Corbel's revenues, with up to 60 people working on site including subcontractors.

It would remain in place until a permanent child haematology oncology centre was built, as part of the Christchurch Hospital redevelopment of acute services.

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To deal with a larger commercial workload, the company had restructured mainly in the type of skilled staff it was taking on, Jones said. "There were no redundancies but certainly we had people leaving because they didn't like the changes in the business. That's settled down a lot lately.

"Over the past 12 months we've managed to regain the culture of the business."

- The Press

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