In 2016 Jad Maroun departed renowned construction company, Buildcorp, to establish what is fast becoming one of Sydney’s prolific boutique construction companies.
Fast forward 4 years and the Lords Group brand has made its mark on prominent development sites across Sydney from the blue-ribbon harbour suburb of Rose Bay to Hornsby on the Upper North Shore, Miranda in Sydney’s south and Mays Hill in the west.
The organisation is now servicing prestige developers such as Fortis Development Group, for whom they are currently delivering multiple eastern suburbs projects and international developers BRDB.
With a reputation for fostering strong client relationships and an uncompromising commitment to the highest quality product, we sat down with founder, Jad Maroun, to discuss how construction partners can contribute meaningfully to the developer’s product and brand.
BD: Given the impact on buyers of last year’s events such as the Opal and Mascot Towers, do you find you’re having more conversations with developers around the positioning of the construction brand as part of the marketing strategy?
JM: The topic of discussion is becoming more prevalent, yes. But in saying that, we have always placed a high level of emphasis on our construction brand and identity. We knew from day 1 that by entering an already very competitive market and having to compete in a lower tier, flooded market that we would have to create a construction company with a strong brand identity and one that our clients could be proud to be associated with.
When we first started, selling that brand to our clients was difficult without any runs on the board. Fortunately, we are now in a position where we have built a strong brand supported by successfully completed projects and with clients who can provide positive references based on their experience with our team.
We frequently use social media platforms to provide regular updates to our followers and the industry at large. Our clients are now leveraging off this social media strategy to assist in building a solid rapport with their end-users and project stakeholders throughout the entire construction cycle.
Your brand appears front and centre on Fortis’ website for The Benson, Rose Bay. Given your activity on high-quality projects in the area, is there evidence that the Lords Group brand offers buyers a sense of security and quality?
JM: The objective of the Lords Group brand is to give our clients and their end-users comfort that they are dealing with a reputable organisation and confidence that we have the experience to ensure the completed product will be of a high-quality finish.
You can spend as much effort and money as you want on marketing, but if you cannot back it up, it all means nothing.
We are only as good as our last project and our clients find comfort knowing they can walk through any of our completed projects and see the level of finish that we expect from our team. They tend to use these projects as the benchmark finish for their next project.
By no means are we perfect, but what people see when they work and collaborate with us, is that we are genuine in our passion and commitment to project delivery excellence.
We also tend to find that the buyers follow us on social media watching their projects come to life. We don’t want to be putting words in the buyer’s mouths, but I believe that they feel comfortable being able to follow the journey from start to completion.
BD: Are you ever called upon to meet with buyers or potential buyers to help in understanding and delivering on their needs?
JM: This really depends on our clients and their agent’s sales strategies and each project is different. Lords Group always maintains an open approach to facilitating and assisting as needed with project sales.
Our clients rely on us to field questions daily with regards to potential sales and negotiated design changes but then also to execute these changes efficiently to ensure that construction efficiency and momentum is always maintained on site.
With sales of some project apartments exceeding $4m+, it is expected that the apartment owners are going to want to ensure that the end product and space is bespoke and tailored to their requirements.
It is important for us as a head contractor to appreciate that at this level of development, being adaptable and open-minded is paramount in relation to changes that can occur throughout the construction phase, regardless of design documentation status possibly being finalised.
BD: Do you have any specific recollection in which your role as construction partner contributed directly to a purchaser’s decision?
JM: Our involvement in negotiations and communication between purchasers and developers are limited, but we do receive feedback that having an organisation with the focus on reputation and brand that we have assists the developer in achieving the level of buyer-confidence they need to secure and convert sales.
BD: Are you selective in the types of projects you will agree to take on?
JM: When I first started Lords Group, being selective wasn’t really an option. We were a new contractor in a highly competitive market where developers had plenty of options. But in a short amount of time we have been able to demonstrate the value we bring to the table, build a portfolio of successfully completed projects and develop strong relationships with our clients and stakeholders.
These achievements have put us in the fortunate position now where our clients want to continue working with us on their pipeline projects and we are typically negotiating our projects outside market tender, or assisting our clients in an Early Contractor Involvement capacity early in the development cycle.
Being active in the market is still very important to Lords Group, therefore whilst we are still aggressive with our business development methodologies, we are very strategic in the projects that we do choose to participate in. We have clearly defined strategic objectives for the business, and these objectives feed directly into our business development methods for selecting project opportunities.
BD: What are some of the warning signs that make a project unappealing as a construction partner?
In terms of warning signs, there are many, but the main overarching warning sign is if the client’s motivations, ethics and approach to business don’t align with our own.
Although we prefer to differentiate ourselves by taking on board challenging and complex projects, we may strategically keep ourselves distanced from projects where the client’s main objective is achieving the lowest construction cost possible and/or fastest construction program to the detriment of a high-quality project finish.
We are concerned where we find issues such as:
- undefined scope of works or project design clarity
- project entity and funding ambiguity
- high risk, one-sided contracts
- a high proportion of negative outcomes or relationships with previous builders and project team stakeholders.
BD: What are the key criteria that signal a desirable construction project?
We have built parameters for project selection and decision making within our business development tools, in a manner that provides higher weighting to projects which are aligned with Lords Group’s strategic business objectives.
A few of these parameters include the client’s branding and marketing profile, geographic location of the project, segment growth potential and even level of challenge and complexity of the project.
We are firm in our intention to stick with projects that will continue to challenge Lords Group and if we don’t feel the challenge or complexity is pushing us than we have, even in the recent declining market, turned down projects which were inclined to be awarded to Lords Group, in order to maintain our focus.
BD: Do you foresee a time when builders may market their brands direct to consumers in order to secure a trusted leadership position in the minds of buyers, the way many leading developers do?
JM: The feedback I am getting from the market at the moment is that there is an increasing awareness from buyers with regards to the quality of the builder and the role they play in the success of the project.
I don’t foresee head contract builders marketing brands directly to consumers. Our contractual relationship and engagement will always remain direct through the developer, but there is definitely an increasing requirement for the builder’s brand to indirectly support the developer’s brand, in providing confidence to the buyer that they have the capability and team to deliver on the project promises or requirements.
BD: What is your 5-year vision for the Lords Group organisation and brand?
JM: We continue to strive towards a brand renowned in the industry for high-quality project delivery, innovative construction execution, high-performing project teams and for being reliable and trustworthy in our construction and project management approach.
We want to strengthen and diversify our product offering by servicing both commercial and residential based clients, delivering commercial new builds, office fit-out and refurbishments, hotels and casinos, student accommodation and living, education and high-end mixed-use projects.
In addition, we want to be industry leaders and innovators in the way business management systems are operated to achieve optimum operational efficiency through a truly integrated management system which manifests into consistent industry high performance and excellence.