Coming out of the buy-out of Coffey Engineering by Terta Tech in 2015, Richard McKenna found himself looking for a new career path. With a wife at home; cleaning up all his documents, and a new business offer on the table - working from his house was no longer a viable option. Through his own networking he came into an opportunity to begin a new East Coast branch of CMW Geosciences here in Adelaide. No longer able to work from home, but without credit history to lease an office space – Richard found himself between a rock and a hard place.
Richard found CO-HAB in 2016. It had the flexibility of an office lease without the lock in contracts, and credit required for one; at a fraction of the cost – perfect for starting his new business. Starting off with a single person desk, CMW Geosciences have now grown to fill an entire office space and 4 additional desks housing 8 to 10 employees at any one time. Recently they have sent two staff to Brisbane to establish a Queensland branch, and are also expanding in Melbourne to an additional office space (totalling 2 in Victoria).
The ability to reallocate funding and time away from things like exorbitant rent prices and general office administration being able to focus on themselves instead, made a huge difference – especially as a relatively new company. Being able to concentrate consistently on local industry, even during market slumps has enabled CMW to become one of only 4 major Geotechnical engineering firms in South Australia. Being a consistent competitor in an industry where many major companies only invest in the sector during a boom, has allowed CMW to achieve top of mind awareness in the South Australian Geosciences market.
Through their growth, CMW have not only been able to create new roles within their company (and subsequently lowering the barrier to entry to the notoriously difficult to enter SA Geotechnical field) but also have been able to take on interns from various local universities as well as pay them.
Taking on interns can be a difficult procedure – as often their lack of industry experience results in a slower turn-around of work. Due to CMW’s ability to focus more on the business side of things instead of administration, means they can train their interns more effectively and create top-tier, industry ready graduates.
CMW has fully involved themselves with the local geotechnical industry. Lower overheads means being able to attend and sponsor events – fully immersing themselves in the community. Being at CO-HAB means they also have the option to host their own events utilising the spaces function room.
‘It’s been truly set up as a place where you can do proper, proper business’
-Richard McKenna, CMW Geosciences
When Richard first moved into the CO-HAB space, he thought it would be difficult to acquire some of the larger contracts being offered. Word had already spread about the Tonsley Precinct, and that alone had attracted some of his first clients to the space. Richard says that various clients (including ones from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure) were visibly and audibly impressed by the facilities, and that it played a big part in securing contracts. Being taken seriously as a start-up is hard and if you don’t have a suitable space to conduct business it can only hinder your progress.
Having all the maintenance being handled by staff, and a support network of fellow coworkers has taken away a lot of the burden of office up-keep away from CMW. This allows them, and the rest of the coworkers, to focus more on what they came to CO-HAB to do – work.
The dynamic nature of coworking means it’s hard to get bored. Working in a network of many different disciplines, you aren’t stuck only talking to people within your industry. Often times it’s this meeting of minds that helps bring new perspective to business that you may not have ever expected from an individual in a different field. Other times it means you can get IT help without having to call in a specialist.
‘When there’s a slump in the engineering market everyone at an engineering office is down; but you go into the kitchen at CO-HAB and you can actually talk about something else.’
-Richard McKenna, CMW Geosciences
CMW are now bursting at the seams. After a massive 2 years at CO-HAB they are now expanding in Queensland, Victoria as well as locally. Richard is on the hunt for even more space at CO-HAB - he certainly can afford it.
‘The facilities are way above and beyond anything that I ever could have afforded, and it’s great because you can come across as a truly professional business.’
- Richard McKenna, CMW