One of the things Peter Salveson loves most about working in the construction and property industry is its tangibility. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Peter has been involved in the construction of some very impressive buildings.
“In our industry, there is a piece of physical infrastructure that stays with communities for a very, very long time,” he explains. “I’m sure there are plenty of people in our team who have driven past these buildings with their kids and have pointed out the window and said, ‘Look, I helped build that!’ It’s very rewarding.”
After joining Hansen Yuncken more than two decades ago, Peter worked his way up through the ranks and became CEO in 2016. “As CEO, I believe my key responsibilities are setting the culture and the strategic direction for the business,” he says.
“So, a lot of the work I’ve done over the past three years has involved revisiting the values of the organisation, which are integrity, respect, innovation and excellence. Our people are very important to us, so there’s been a lot of focus on making sure that they’ve got the tools, support and leadership they need to perform at their best.”
In 2018, Hansen Yuncken marked 100 years of continued operations in Australia, and used the milestone as the perfect platform to launch a dynamic and forward-thinking brand designed to take the business into the next century of building Australia.
“The decision to rebrand was not only to celebrate our longevity but, more importantly, it was about our commitment to the future,” Peter says. “We wanted to create a bold, robust and confident brand that would be able to drive a 100-year business into the next century. We’re proud of our past, but we’re determined to be a successful business and the priority choice for our clients and our people, now and into the future.”
Although Hansen Yuncken has many long-serving employees, millennials make up about 47% of the team. Peter believes this combination of mature employees and new talent provides the perfect balance for taking the business forward.
“It’s very healthy to have a mix of mature people, who can teach the millennials about the basics of the industry, as well as tech-savvy millennials, who can show our older employees how technology can help make our projects more efficient,” he says.
While attracting talent is a challenge for many businesses, Peter points out that Hansen Yuncken’s track record in constructing high-profile buildings, such as the SkyCity Adelaide Casino Expansion, Western Sydney Coliseum and HOTA Art Gallery on the Gold Coast, is beneficial.
“This helps us attract people who like to be challenged, which is very much part of our culture. We’re driven by challenge and we’re all very passionate about what we do.”
Hansen Yuncken works closely with its suppliers and subcontractors to maintain strong longstanding partnerships, as well as develop new relationships. “We show our key suppliers and subcontractors the same respect that we show our own people. We also get them actively involved in our tenders. With their input, we can get a clearer understanding of the risks and what might be a better way of constructing a project,” Peter says.
From a strategic point of view, Peter is focused on increasing Hansen Yuncken’s market share in the eastern states. “We’re looking to turn over A$1.3 billion this year and probably getting that up to A$1.5 billion in a couple of years. Our businesses in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales have traditionally had a very low market share, so we’ve been working very hard on increasing our marketing, capability and expertise in those states,” he explains.
“Providing our people with a culture where they feel engaged and challenged is very rewarding.”
As Peter looks to the future, he’s excited about what’s in store for Hansen Yuncken. “It’s very satisfying to be steering a fantastic company into the next phase of growth. Providing our people with a culture where they feel engaged and challenged is very rewarding,” he smiles.
What’s most important to Peter is that the company’s achievements are a team effort. “To be successful in our business, we rely on the collective intelligence, commitment and efforts of many people,” he adds. “Harry S Truman once said, ‘It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit’, and I think that’s very true.”
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