Meet Luke & Alexandra MacGibbon
Young members of NZCB who co-captain their thriving new business, 90 Degrees Construction
Luke and Alexandra, tell us about yourselves…
We’re a young husband and wife duo from Tauranga. We threw ourselves into our respective careers early on, and take turns at keeping our “workaholism” in check!
Luke has loads of experience in construction management complemented by superior carpentry skills and terrible singing vocals. Alex is a self-proclaimed geek with loads of experience in marketing, coupled with an obsession of great customer experience and digital solutions.
We have a giant black labradoodle named Harley, a couple of nagging mothers who impatiently want grandchildren, are suckers for punishment when it comes to renovating our own home, and our hobbies centre around water and travel.
What inspired you to launch a high-end building business?
With the industry booming, it seems the market is saturated with a lot of qualified builders going out on their own. We’ve seen a few guys get a shock at just how full on running a business actually is, and how much time gets sucked up off the tools. Luckily we went into this with both eyes open, excited and inspired by what our mash-up of skillsets and passion for the industry could mean.
Entering the high-end market was a no-brainer for us, as Luke’s been in it for the past 13 years. His skill-set and passion is very much tuned to working closely with architects to master the art of a beautiful custom build. We think that builders can often forget that building a dream home is likely the biggest spend a person/client will ever make in their lifetime, so they are justified in their high expectations and deserve an incredibly personal, professional, slick service. Our past experience has given us confidence that we can deliver on the journey we know clients ultimately want.
90 Degrees Construction is a great name for a construction company name, tell us about that journey
It was quite a process! Naming our business needed to carry real meaning and link with the founding values of the company. After some research, we learnt that in nature there are no true straight lines or corners other than a light beam. This means that almost all straight lines you come across are constructed
by man, and look perfect to the human eye, especially two straight lines that create a 90 degree or “right” angle. This fits because Luke is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to his building practice and we always try to work with the client’s perspective or angle in mind. The bonus is the opportunity to use a cheeky pun or two!
What’s so different about 90 Degrees Construction?
Luke is innately tuned to the detail. He’ll walk into a room and sense immediately whether the walls are straight and true, and notice any flaws in finishing work. Laziness is not in his vocabulary. Our added value though, is inspired by a quote from Steve Jobs – “Simple
can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple”. We make sure all our information is provided to the client in a way that immediately engages. It needs to be sexy, beautiful and simple.
We can’t emphasise enough just how important it is to provide all the information a client wants immediately, with no fuss and in ways that can be readily understood. This means we’ve relied on our background processes being well set up. Our main focus at the start was choosing the right systems to automate those pesky, time consuming admin jobs. We avoided the big “all-in-one” software packages, which still weren’t simple or beautiful enough. We’re proud of our customised digital ecosystem. It’s allowed us to spend more time on the actual construction experience, making sure we are transparent, the jargon is simply translated and the construction process more seamless.
What’s been your biggest learning curve in the first year of business?
That’s easy – staffing. We are definitely feeling the nationwide labour shortage, though we’ve seen this as an opportunity to train up young apprentices. While we technically fit into the millennial category ourselves, we are still working on understanding this new wave of young people entering the workforce. We’ve had team chats about “picking up your feet”, how turning up to site on time is the least we can do to show our clients we respect their investment, and that “swings-and-roundabouts” are not an entitlement, but are earned. However, for the most part we have had good natured guys who just need to be given confidence through good leadership, communication and of course the odd fishing trip! Needless to say, we’ll keep watching the TED talks and listening to podcasts for tips on this one.
What’s next for 90 Degrees Construction?
Once we have completed our current project, we will have been working in Pauanui for nearly two years. It’s time to start putting our roots down at home in Tauranga! The medium-term goal is to have two teams able to work on a couple of projects at a time, moving between Tauranga and Pauanui. It was always our intention to take our time for the first two years before expanding. It’s given us the necessary time to stress test our systems and fine tune our business model. Being a start-up has allowed us the opportunity to be at the forefront in using tech and innovative processes to be more efficient, professional and accessible. Attending the National NZCB conference last year gave us the confidence that we were on the right track. The key for us is to keep learning, stay on top of the latest trends, and of course keep going to the annual conference!