SMALL businessman Jason McRostie is having a gangbuster year despite latest industry figures showing non-resource-linked commercial construction work is lagging engineering developments across the country.
His JBM Projects shopfitting operation has 18 projects due for completion between now and November, and potentially another $10 million worth of work in a new consulting arm before February next year.
The award-winning 16-employee Murarrie business is bucking the non-resource sector downturn by spreading itself nationally with at least six projects in progress at the same time in Tasmania, Darwin, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.
“Last year was up and down because some of my retail clients are still struggling,” Mr McRostie said.
“But because we’re diverse covering that range of pharmacy, medical, retail and hospitality and we have a very good reputation in the industry, we’re always busy.
“This year started off with a bang and we just haven’t stopped.
“We’ve got a massive year.”
Mr McRostie has refused to bend to market pressure on margins, something he believes is saving his business at a time when four other shopfitters have closed within the past six months.
“I’ve been beaten in projects by $20,000 to $100,000 because guys are going in at cost price to win work and keep their doors open.
“But they can only do that for so long.
“We’ve gone the opposite and don’t win every job but we have never been over on any project.”
The latest Construction Outlook survey by the Australian Industry Group and Australian Constructors Association predicts non-residential construction work will grow by 14.7 per cent this year and 13.8 per cent in 2013.
But the survey found most of the turnover growth would come from resource sector-induced engineering construction (17.1 per cent in 2012 and 15.4 per cent in 2013), while commercial construction was nowhere near as strong at 6.1 per cent this year and 7.2 per cent in 2013.
Australian Constructors Association president Peter Brecht said a clear theme from the survey was widespread difficulties sourcing skilled labour and capital supplies.
Australian Industry Group chief executive officer Innes Willox said the report pointed to “a tentative, although very welcome recovery in commercial construction”.