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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

It all starts here

It all starts here

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When Crew Built launched in 2021, the passionate team had a combined industry experience of more than four decades. So, what made them stand out to win the 2024 HIA Australian Start-Up Business Award?

Anne-Maree Brown

General Manager of Content

When Kieran Flanigan, Alex Warner and Joe Prater met as site managers in the commercial construction industry, they soon became good mates. Over time, however, they became much more than buddies – these South Australian go-getters followed their dream to start a boutique residential custom home-building business.

In their early stages, Kieran, Alex and Joe worked with a prominent state-based commercial construction company, as well as being national head contractors in low- and high-rise buildings.

They managed complex builds, erecting large-scale super-structures, followed by high-end fit-outs valued at up to $10 million. They dealt in both front-end design and buildability studies, taking on coordination meetings, compliance, scheduling, quality-of-works inspections and safety.

Crew Built consists of (l-r) Alex Warner, Kieran Flanigan and Joe Prater.

While their careers were challenging, they had higher aspirations. ‘We wanted to build things that would make us jump out of bed every day,’. says Kieran. ‘We wanted to build beautiful structures with meticulous construction detailing, select sophisticated finishes, and be proud of what we deliver.’ To achieve this, they took on 50 per cent pay cuts with no guarantee of success.

In 2021, the Crew Built team took on small-scale renovations and extensions. ‘We would undertake all the building works ourselves, as we were tradesmen during our apprenticeship days,’ says Kieran, who has a dual trade in carpentry and plumbing. ‘We kept the quality and standards high. We organised materials and lead-times well ahead of schedule to deliver projects on time. In addition, we were interacting and managing the clients’ needs.’

The 2024 HIA Australian Start-Up Business award, a new category of HIA’s awards program, is for brand-new businesses in early development stages, trading between 18 months and five years at the close of the entry date.

Submissions had to provide examples of excellence over the past 12 months, addressing criteria such as business marketing, financial management, customer service, business strategy and system development. Applicants also had to display its future success and business resilience.

As a HIA judge noted, Crew Built’s robust systems, operational management and positive customer feedback put them in the lead.

One of Crew Built’s key strategies is planning for the future.
Applying for the award itself was a learning opportunity for the team.

Kieran explains that one of their key strategies is planning for the future. ‘By deciding where you want to be and by working out all the steps, and identifying potential obstacles, you can get there.'

Applying for the award itself was a learning opportunity. When entering, Kieran used the criteria as a valuable business checklist, identifying what they were achieving and what they needed to improve. ‘It took us three months to do the submission,’ he says. ‘It made us look at things and go, “Oh, we’re not doing that — let’s implement it”.’

The other point of difference with Crew Built is taking on continued education. ‘I’ve done additional study, including advanced construction diplomas, and formal qualifications with HIA and other training institutes. When lecturers and senior work colleagues saw my enthusiasm for our industry, they took me under their wing. That accelerated my learning journey,’ Kieran says.

Delegating and outsourcing were other elements that impressed the judges. Like many business owners, accounting was crucial for Crew Built. ‘We turned to an Adelaide accounting firm specialising in our industry and told them our goals. They helped us plan our business growth.’ 

According to Kieran, they take pride in their clients’ satisfaction. ‘We look at their drawings and specifications holistically to understand the design intent,’ he says. ‘Then we leverage our experience for improvements, advising how we can make things better.

‘You need to be willing to listen and learn, ask questions, and adapt to changes and challenges,’ says Kieran Flanigan.
‘We wanted to build beautiful structures, select sophisticated finishes, and be proud of what we deliver.’

‘We give clients so much care; it’s not just another business transaction. Often, they’ve made a large financial commitment to achieve their dreams, and we want them to be really proud – not just of the end product but the journey to get there.’

Kieran observes another benefit: how well all three work together. This bond also extends to their contractors. This award win has opened up more opportunities for collaboration with like-minded industry professionals. ‘When we started, it was hard to get great tradespeople,’ he says. ‘After the awards were announced, many people have been contacting us.

‘Although market conditions and economic climate alter, our business goals, values and vision have always remained constant. We want to be forward-thinking, innovative builders who provide quality service with professional management and safety systems in place,’ Kieran concludes. ‘We want to hit a benchmark in our industry.’

If the HIA judges, Crew Built’s clients and trades are anything to go by, they have certainly hit the sweet spot, keeping them in good stead for years to come.

First published on 20 May 2024

At a glance




2024 HIA Australian Start-Up Business


South Australia

Partnered by

American Express Australia

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