My proudest achievement: Rendine MD Greg Mills on 21 years in construction
As Managing Director of Rendine Constructions for the past 21 years, Greg Mills has overseen the design, fabrication and delivery of some of the most recognisable buildings in the Geelong region.
But the one thing he is prouder of assembling, more than anything else is the supportive culture and drive for high performance that underpins the Rendine team.
Without this in-built resilience, the 48-year-old company's continuing prosperity could not be as assured in such a competitive industry. Landmark projects including the Eastern Hub, the Belmont Ambulance Station and the Marcus Oldham College Learning Centre might never have received the Rendine touch that has made them instantly recognisable and widely admired.
Under Greg's careful watch, Rendine Constructions has been as solid as the buildings it assembles, having been founded in 1973 by Laurie Mills who passed the baton to his son in 2000. The business has grown, relocated and diversified to include a suite of product and services including Modularity, the company's flexible and efficient modular construction division.
Growing the size and scale of Rendine Constructions into one of Geelong's largest and most recognised builders of commercial and public infrastructure was never high on the agenda for Greg, who aspired instead to creating a company with multi-generational longevity.
“You inform yourself of what the best looks like, you recruit the technically best people you can afford, and make sure you deliver a customer experience that aligns with longevity,” he says.
“The company has gotten bigger under my watch but it was never about that, it was about running the best organisation you possibly could. If you did that, growth came - you didn't have to target it.”
For Greg, assembling a high-performance team of construction experts and creating an inclusive culture that strives for excellence has been as challenging as any construction project.
A trained engineer, Greg says his natural inclination is to search for fact-based solutions to every problem. “If you're an engineer, everything is black or white,” he says with a laugh. “It was an important evolution (for me), to realise that you had to create a culture based not on zeros and ones, but on warmth and understanding.”
The company's success, he says, is mainly due to a shared commitment to creating a collaborative and supportive team structure. “As the business got more complicated, you had this ability to work together, this collaboration, this friendship, where you could have an argument but still go to lunch together,” Greg says. “It's all about trying to build that collaborative space where people could openly and honestly trust each other.
“It's a pretty supportive place, full of people who share this goal of success. Without that, we couldn't have done anything else.
“Those type of goals are the real milestones, because I don't think we've done our biggest and best stuff yet. I think our projects will be bigger, faster, more elaborate.”
One such project that is still evolving is Modularity, an initially ambitious plan to capitalise on a growing market for fast, efficient and cost-certain construction which was shaped by Greg's pre-Rendine background in a government procurement role.
“Government has always been one of Rendine's Cornerstone Clients. We have a deep understanding of Public Sector EOI & Tender procedures.
The Modularity business responded directly to the style of infrastructure the Government needs, providing value, cost control, speed of delivery and high quality construction outcomes,” he says.
Initiated in 2017, Modularity gave Rendine Constructions the ability to leverage existing skillsets to influence its own destiny. “It's an incredibly exciting business because you have input into what the product can be, what it can look like, what it can offer, what it can do environmentally, what technology the structure can offer, what the user experience can be,” he says.
“The sky's the limit for Modularity. We're market leaders, we're doing things that companies way bigger than us aren't coping with. That's pretty remarkable, that a little firm in Geelong can do that.
“I spent most of my career trying to get the football - just give me a possession! Modularity feels like you've got the football, not frantically chasing it. It sits in our arms, so let's kick a goal with it.”