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“You need to love what you do.”: Joseph Di Girolamo

From building blocks to Lego and now managing a privately owned Australian building company, Next Constructions CEO Joseph Di Girolamo always wanted to be a builder. That passion and determination led him to start his own boutique business delivering projects of up to A$50 million in single project value.

Joseph Di Girolamo, CEO of Next Constructions

“I was always fascinated by observing how buildings were built and seeing actors playing roles as builders,” says Joseph, “I thought, ‘I’d like to be a builder when I grow up.’”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in construction management, from Sydney’s University of Technology, Joseph worked for St Hilliers and Built. It wasn’t long before he noticed a gap in the market.

There was a lack of medium-sized builders with the capacity and ability to deliver building projects in live environments (while managing pedestrian and vehicle traffic). Then and there, the vision for Next Constructions was formed.

“Our goal is to forge strong, long-standing relationships with all stakeholders by being open, transparent and respectful in all our dealings.”

“We would like to be a well-known and respected Sydney CBD-based Tier-2 builder,” explains Joseph. “We’re delivering projects to repeat private and government clients. We’ve also got our New South Wales Best Practice and OFSC Federal Government accreditation. We’ll only go up as far north as the Hunter and go down as south as Illawarra. We only want our annual turnover to go up to A$100 million. We won’t go bigger than that.”

The reason Joseph won’t go bigger – or expand to other states – is because he’s a family man who enjoys routine. “Family life is important to me,” he says. “I love building and I’m passionate about running my business. I’m also active and enjoy going to the gym. I feel that helps with my mental clarity. Otherwise, I get thrown off.”

Joseph Di Girolamo, CEO of Next Constructions

His goal was never to take over Australia’s building industry. Instead, it was to own a business that didn’t own him. “While I wanted the responsibility of owning my own business, I wanted it to run without dependence on myself,” Joseph explains. “That’s part of the reason why it’s not called Joseph Di Girolamo Building.”

Ultimately, he wasn’t after a business in which he would have to stay late every night and where he would be involved across all departments. “That’s not my idea of owning a successful business.”

Next Constructions is also at a size that allows Joseph to visit all the company’s job sites within a two-week period. Seeing these sites enables the CEO to get the feel of the site. Joseph says it’s his role to ensure the job is progressing as planned, and if it’s not, to rectify it.

Joseph, a father of three young boys, is also big on ensuring a work–life balance at Next. “I like to see my kids every night,” he says. “The way I see it, everyone’s working hard and it’s important to encourage them to go to the gym, ride a bike and not stay back too late. As a rule, I’ll always ask my team, ‘Are you doing what makes you happy?’”

Joseph’s leadership style is simply to lead by example. “I’ve always lived by the ethos of being patient, passionate and persistent. Those three things are aligned with the company’s core values of being passionate, professional and productive,” he says. “The only way to create that culture is to embody it. It’s a tough industry, so you need to be patient. Obstacles will come your way; you need to love what you do, and you need to be driven.”

Next Constructions was born in 2007 to provide services in new construction, refurbishment and fit-out. “Our purpose is making our clients’ plans a reality, and we specialise in building projects collaboratively in live environments that require intensive stakeholder management,” Joseph explains.

“Our purpose is making our clients’ plans a reality.”

“This skill set has led us into the sectors that we are active in, including aged care, student accommodation, retail, airports, hospitality, commercial, industrial, social and affordable housing, justice, defence, police and other government social infrastructure projects. We’re an established company. We use Aconex for document management and Jobpac for financial management. We give our suppliers good opportunities because the jobs are organised and they have sufficient time to do what they need,” Joseph explains.

“Next is also passionate about making sure we’re on top of our repayment terms, and we always pay everyone on time. We’ve got a good subcontractor and supplier database. Stringent control measures ensure new subcontractors and suppliers align with our values. Our ‘Building Collaboratively’ ethos involves trust and transparency at all levels, from our clients and staff to subcontractors and suppliers. We strive to work with likeminded people who will work alongside us to deliver inspiring buildings.”

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