Featured in The Urban Developer: Q&A: Damien Crough, Hickory Group

Damien Crough is the Business Development Manager at Hickory Group and Founding Director of prefabAUS.

Damien was integral in delivering Hickory’s first prefab project.

Damien recently founded prefabAUS, Australia’s only specialist modular building body and advocate for the many benefits of prefabrication.


Who is Hickory?

The Hickory story began in 1991 when fourth generation builders, Michael and George Argyrou, founded Hickory. Since then, the business has steadily evolved from a family owned company to one of Australia’s preeminent construction groups specialising in high rise apartment towers.


What is the Hickory Building System?

Hickory’s journey into manufacturing began with the Unitised Building (“UB”) System, a prefabricated technology created by Nonda Katsalidis, one of Australia’s leading architects.

During 2013 the team at Hickory Building Systems, together with consulting engineers and physicists set the challenge to devise a system for high-rise modular construction that would allow high-rise, super-tower developments to be built more efficiently, sustainably and safely.

The new Hickory Structural System takes traditional modular fabrication to a new level – refining the engineering in order to create a modular structure that performs better and can be built higher than any other existing modular system.


What are the benefits?

Better quality, faster construction, more sustainable and cheaper to build.


How is this different to modular construction?

Many modular systems require developers and architects to adapt their projects to the particular modular system and are therefore quite limited in application. We see these often used only for temporary or low cost housing and accommodation.

Hickory on the other hand works with leading architects, developers and engineers to build their buildings, not ours. Our modules are engineered and prototyped to suit each individual client and their unique needs.

By controlling the process, our sophisticated technology is able to control costs; waste is limited and quality increased. ERP software guides each step of the project sequence, from initial design through to installation on site, by integrating internal and external management of information across the entire process.


How has the technology impacted the industry?

It’s hard to gauge how the technology has impacted the industry at this early stage. I think the industry in general is now more receptive to considering and implementing prefabricated building designs because they can see the results. There are some great buildings out there that showcase what is possible and that is encouraging uptake.


What are the cost savings?

There are lower costs due to compressed construction times, reduced risk of delays and certainty of materials procurement. Beyond this, prefabricated construction also provides a number of ancillary cost savings from lower financing expenses and reduced structural footing requirements as well as decreasing the preliminary costs associated with head contractors and consultants.


What are the typical savings to delivery program?

To date with the UB technology we have seen typical program savings of 50%. With the new Hickory Building System, when implemented on a high-rise residential tower, we are expecting to see savings of up to 65% on a traditional program. This is attributed to our ability to take the core structure off the critical path – when you do this it opens up all sorts of opportunities to accelerate the program.


How does this impact a client’s bottom line?

Every project is different. However, if you are able to reduce the financing costs during construction by half, then the bottom line will always benefit and reflect significant savings.


What sort of growth has the Hickory business experienced?

The growth has been steady and continues in all aspect of the business. I am now focusing on SYNC, our bathroom pod business, which has experienced enormous growth over the last twelve months.

We have recently doubled our production capacity in the Melbourne factory to meet the demand from NSW, where I am currently managing three projects that are contracted for a total of 2,000 bathroom pods.


What is your outlook for the prefab industry in Australia?

The outlook is very positive. We have a number of incredibly capable manufacturers in all areas of prefabricated technologies and they are all busy.

When you add to this the automotive supply chain looking to diversify their businesses – I think the future looks exciting. The potential for manufactured buildings and components to be more widely implemented across the construction sector is growing.


What do you have planned for prefabAUS’s first conference?

As the off-site construction sector begins to expand rapidly, this Conference is timed to bring together key representatives from all related areas for the first time; from architecture, engineering, manufacturing, material supply, property development and construction, universities, government agencies and client representatives.

An influential line-up of national and international speakers will cover all approaches to off-site construction, from commercial to residential and across all key infrastructure sectors including health and education.


TheUrbanDeveloper.com, 24 July 2014

Have any questions?

Contact our marketing team if you want to know more. They’ll be happy to help you!