bec hopper

Perfect fit

The 2019 HIA Australian Business Partner of the Year may not have started out in the construction industry but she has found herself exactly where she wants to be.

Author

Laura Valic

From day dot PAH Innovative Construction has been synonymous with Paul and Bec Hopper. When the husband-and-wife duo went into business together in 2011 they focused on producing beautifully-designed custom built homes in the region of Wagga Wagga, NSW – and hit the ground running. 

They’ve since built a solid reputation for innovative and sustainable housing designs, finding their niche clientele in established families, business professionals and retirees.

‘The way Paul and I have done it we’ve always been a team,’ Bec says. ‘I’ve never felt Paul was the builder and I was just somebody in the background. In all of our advertising it’s always “go see Paul and Bec”. That’s helped to cement our place in the industry.’

In some ways they operate under a common business structure. Paul as the managing director and builder handles the construction work and regular trade contractors, while Bec, as operations manager, is the agile force underpinning the business responsible for a diverse portfolio, including client liaison, accounts, business and project management, contracts and WHS management.

 

But in other ways they differentiate themselves from their competitors by doing away with sales staff, choosing to personally keep this vital customer service role for themselves. It’s a perfect fit for Bec: a self-described people person, with a background in travel consulting, who previously worked for Qantas managing the Wagga Wagga airport.

‘We always see our clients together,’ Bec explains, ‘and we really love working with our clients. That’s a big part of it; we didn’t want to lose that.’ 

Feedback has also revealed that their clients like the fact they get to deal with the business owners directly – they enjoy the dynamic of discussing ideas in a group during the early consultations and by then a positive rapport is usually well established to see them through the construction phase. Accordingly, PAH Innovative Construction tailored their business model around this important factor.

‘When people are shopping around they tell us they get a really good vibe from us as a team so that’s why they decide to build with us,’ Bec says. ‘We have hired people to support us in our roles so we would always be prominent and the face of our business.’ 

The strategy is paying off. PAH Innovative Construction was named the 2018 Professional Small Builder/Renovator at the HIA–CSR ACT & Southern NSW Awards, and much to Bec’s surprise, she herself took out the 2019 HIA Australian Business Partner award (partnered by B&D) earlier in the year.

‘I was ecstatic when I won, there were a lot of promising ladies in the mix. I did Google the competition beforehand,’ she laughs, ‘so I was very shocked. But it was really nice to be recognised for so many years of hard work.’

 

‘We have hired people to support us in our roles so we would always be prominent and the face of our business’

And it has been a lot of hard work building their business from scratch, Bec says. Everything she has learnt about the construction industry has been on the job alongside Paul, self-taught or through up-skilling. After completing a Certificate IV in Business Management she took the GreenSmart course to become a HIA GreenSmart Professional.

From the awards and conference programs to business and legal services, the Association has proven to be a reliable support partner.

‘From the beginning we’ve used HIA Contracts, I find them easy to use, and for any legal questions we always fall back on HIA,’ Bec says. ‘I joined the Business Partner Network about five years ago and I like to jump online for the webinars. I’ve learnt a lot through those.’

Today, Bec is passionate about networking and sharing her knowledge with others in the industry. She launched the Wagga Women in Construction (WWIC) group for likeminded building professionals, and in a little over 12 months has had more than 100 members join.

‘One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because I remember how it felt when I came into the industry, not having anyone locally I could talk to or bounce ideas off. We do an event every two months with different suppliers, run courses, workshops, and showroom spot-lights. It’s been really successful.’

 

Between WWIC commitments, working full time, opening a new office in 2018, as well as managing a young family, Bec seems to be running on all cylinders.

However, you won’t see the duo resting on their laurels – Bec and Paul intend further business expansion, with the goal of opening a dis-play centre apart of their five-year plan.

‘It’s a challenge balancing work and home life, but I really love what I do,’ Bec says. ‘There’s always something new to sink your teeth into! I feel really proud of what my husband and I have built with our business and I’m really passionate about sharing that knowledge with other people.’

In the small pockets of time when she’s not working, Bec finds herself returning to her roots and bringing her family along for the journey. 

‘I love to travel, it’s a big interest of mine,’ she says. ‘It’s our downtime, so we escape Wagga and head off somewhere. We like to give the kids new cultural experiences too. It’s how we get away from it all because when we’re here it is very full on!’ 

 
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‘I joined the Business Partner Network about five years ago and I like to jump online for the webinars’

 

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