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Meinhardt vies for Tier 1 status with new acquisition

Sean Treweek, Meinhardt Australia’s chief executive officer.

Global engineering company Meinhardt has come “full circle” in its Australian operations by acquiring Bonacci Group, a move it hopes will lock in its return as a top player in the Australian market.

Now trading under the new name of Meinhardt-Bonacci, the latest acquisition will see the company’s operations in Australia expand to around 300 staff across six offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Auckland.

Although the company started in Melbourne in the 50s, the Australian market hasn’t been its primary focus since it started operating out of Singapore 10 years ago.

The plan is to now reposition and restrengthen in the Australian market, with Sean Treweek hired as Meinhardt Australia’s new chief executive officer in July last year to lead its renewed expansion in the region.

Treweek told The Fifth Estate the company was operating in the Tier 1 space in Australia 20 years ago and now wants to return to that level, with a strong pipeline of work expected for the region that will set the company up for the future.

He says Australia is “generally a reasonably consistent market” that’s “very competitive”. Although “everyone is playing hard ball” and this sometimes leads to a race to the bottom in terms of fees, Treweek says this isn’t always the case. It helps that his company, like most of its competitors, has a regular client base offering repeat business.

Bonaccio Group’s strong reputation in structural services was also an attraction, with Meinhardt looking to bolster that side of the business. With Bonacci Group’s founders originally Meinhardt employees the acquisition also represents a fitting “full circle” change for both companies.

The global engineering firm has been buying up other companies in Australia, including Murchie Consulting, a building services and ESD consultancy based in Victoria, in 2016, and Bradlees Civil Consulting, a Gold Coast land development consultancy, in 2012.

Globally the privately-owned company now employs around 4500 people.

Melbourne’s Spencer Street, Gardens by the Bay and other major projects to its name

Meinhardt has been involved in major Australian projects, including Melbourne’s Spencer Street tower that has Beyoncé-inspired curves designed to minimise the effects of wind and oscillation.

It’s also had a hand in high profile overseas projects such as the iconic giant greenhouses and “super trees” of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, London’s new Greenwich Peninsula district, and India’s Statue of Unity, which at 182 metres, is the tallest statue in the world.

The company predominantly services the structural and civil engineering space but also has teams in building services, project management, infrastructure, environment and urban.

Its work cuts across most sectors, with the company servicing a mix of clients in health care, residential, community, retail, aged care and more.

The company has a dedicated sustainability team within building services, with a new team leader Thorsten Padeffke brought on from Irwinconsult last year.

Sustainability is an area the company has always operated in, namely “run-of-the-mill” ESD work such as NABERS and Green Star ratings. Treweek says the plan for the future is to push these boundaries and move into front end advisory roles for landmark sustainability projects.

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