McNab is celebrating a rather large milestone this year – their 21st birthday! With festivity plans underway and a lot to be celebrated, I spoke with Michael McNab to try and find out the secret to his continued success in the construction industry, through the hard times and the good.
When you visit McNab’s website, the first line you’ll read is – ‘The not so ordinary construction company’, this philosophy has enabled their continued success and long-term repeat clients.
Anyone who pays attention to construction in QLD will know there are always many McNab sites in prevalent locations all over the state. Probably the most well-known project right now is Blue Sky’s ‘The Duke’ in the Gabba, which you may have seen when watching the cricket on TV. That’s a lie, you’ve definitely seen it whilst watching the cricket on TV!
They have a large diversity of projects they get involved with from residential inner Brisbane through to solar projects out west. Michael mentions they partner with developers and clients that they can see a long term future and relationships with. Is this the secret?
It’s all very well building some cool projects and getting your name out there, but to be able to celebrate your 21st birthday as a builder, especially when the construction industry is not all roses – is a satisfying accomplishment. McNab, a Toowoomba based company, also now has a large office in Brisbane, boasting an impressive 250 staff. They’ve experienced steady growth in the last 2 years and don’t show any signs of slowing down.
Their growth matches their results – demonstrating their ability. In recent times they have had projects win Best Overall Development 2015 and then again in 2016, and 80% of their work comes from long-standing repeat clients. Michael tells me that they are specific and deliberate with the teams they match to a project, and they’d rather let a team recover and be strategic with the next project they go on to than win a project for the sake of keeping everyone at full capacity all year round. Is this the secret?
When talking to others in the industry, including past employees of McNab who have gone off to start their own companies, they attribute their abilities, knowledge and success to the foundational training they gained through their cadet program at McNab. A big part of this program includes everyone being taught the importance of being a relationship builder from the get go. Could this be the secret?
To be a successful builder and in fact to be successful in any industry – Michael believes in the need to place an important focus on everyone being held accountable for their decisions, due diligence to customers and ensuring no rash decisions are made. They have worked with companies that have grown with them across multiple industries both current and past and this attitude is part of what has enabled them to do so. “You need to be outcome focused not process focused, and this is where so many come unstuck. There is more than one way to achieve a positive outcome and this is where the importance of not making rash decisions comes into play.” Michael explained. Possibly this is the secret to their success?
McNab put their name on the map in 1996, starting off small time in Toowoomba building a service station for Woolworths. From there they built 20 servos up and down the Queensland coast and made a name for themselves. When asked why he started McNab in the first place, Michael explains “I didn’t go out with a grand plan to have a hugely successful company. I had an opportunity to start my own business and it has flourished over time.”
“The defining moment I probably knew I had ‘made it’ as some would say, as a builder, would be when I opened the Brisbane office.”
Michael has clear expectations of his employees and their skill sets for his business; training, leadership and people. “We put a lot of effort into the beginning of our employee’s career with the business. When staff have been with us 6-8 weeks they begin their full McNab training program.” Michael states. A lot of the staff are long time serving and he attributes this success to this focus of investment from the start. He mentions, however, that it gets harder to ensure the expectations and successes of staff as the company grows to the size it has. They have had to innovate, and that includes developments like their new safety app to help reduce worker injuries. Maybe this is the secret then?
Michael’s goal is to influence change and he certainly made it clear this was an emphasis of his over the last 21 years. Michael describes “One of the best ways to influence change and be an innovator in the industry is to get people on board with your goals. Storytelling plays a major part in this. You can ask or tell someone to do something and they might do it, but follow this up with a story of an example related to this situation and suddenly everything is more relatable and memorable. They will act with purpose and intent and remember to do it again next time in that situation.” Funnily enough, his philosophies and beliefs and teaching through storytelling remind me of another large successful company, born in the sunshine state – Flight Centre. Both centred on people doing a job they love, rather than the other way around.
We’re hoping Michael will continue this approach with storytelling and share some of McNab’s proudest moments in the lead up to their 21st birthday bash later this year. Congratulations on the milestone Michael and everyone at McNab! As it turns out, Michael’s secret to success is no secret at all. It’s on their website, was evident throughout our interview and collectively on the face of everyone at McNab.
‘There’s no one secret ingredient, just a group of not-so-ordinary people with a focus on building incredible projects and long term relationships along the way.’
Lizzi Byrne is a specialist recruitment consultant working within the Property & Construction sector of Davidson’s Project & Operations group. Over the past 5 years, Lizzi has established herself in the recruitment market across a broad sector of technical construction and mining disciplines in Queensland. Her area of expertise is the recruitment of white collar technical roles within commercial construction in south-east Queensland. This includes roles from Graduate level through to Senior Management. Follow Lizzi on LinkedIn.