LOOKING TIPPERIFIC: UPSIDE PROJECTS AND THE ISUZU NPR TIPPER
Like many Australian businesses—big or small—it all started with a game of footy and a beer at the pub, said Michael Kluktewicz, co-Director of New South Wales based Upside Projects.
Speaking of Upside’s beginnings and how he met his business partner, Shane Valentine, Michael said, “I met Shane playing football and we were both in a similar situation.
“Shane was a project manager doing remedial works and I was in construction. We started the company over a beer at the pub and we haven’t looked back.”
Five years on and firmly established in Sutherland Shire with a solid client base in both the residential and commercial sectors, Upside Projects certainly shows that the best business ideas can have humble beginnings—especially if you throw in a good dollop of determination and industry nous.
From construction to remedial building works, demolition and renovations, all the way through to safety compliance, Michael, Shane and the crew at Upside Projects can do it all.
It may be just a small team of nine, but they are ready and willing to turn their hand to almost anything construction related.
“We are a one-stop shop company,” said Michael. “If we’re renovating your house or your apartment, you give me a set of keys and we do all the work.
“When we hand the keys back at the end, you can be sure it’s clean, comfortable and ready for you to move back in.”
In their first year of business, Michael and Shane made do with what they had in terms of tools, transport and equipment, which meant two utes and a hired truck for the bigger jobs. The situation was working well, until their financial adviser pointed out the mounting cost of hiring a truck, which was more than what the monthly repayments would be on a truck of their own.
“Our accountants basically told us to stop hiring a work truck… so we made a call to Suttons Trucks, Arnscliffe.
“We told them what our needs were, what our budget was, then Shane and I took the Ready-to-Work NPR 45-155 Tipper for a test drive, and within a week we had picked up our new truck.
“It was a very pleasant experience. Suttons Trucks were very accommodating and helped us specify the right model as well as arranging the finance for the truck.”
From picking up materials at building sites to carting waste from demolition work, the NPR Tipper quickly became an integral part of Upside Project’s workflow.
“We use it every single day,” noted Michael. “Joinery, timber, decking pieces, our Tipper carts all sort of materials.
“As for demolition waste, it is particularly handy if the site is in a tight access spot and we can’t have a bin on site. We have the truck parked in the street and we’re able to keep our job sites clean and keep the clients happy, it’s perfect.”
Having driven a variety of hire trucks before buying the NPR Tipper, Michael was confident in his choice, and so far, it’s paid off—the truck has now been running without a hitch for three years, and he doesn’t expect to encounter any problems in the future.
“My personal preference aside, we’ve also spoken to other builders who recommended Isuzu trucks, so going with the NPR Tipper was just a no-brainer for us.
“We are currently working on a project in Gosford and that’s roughly a four hour round trip. We drive it there and back and it’s definitely more comfortable than other truck brands we’ve driven in the past.”
“There are great servicing options with our dealer at Suttons Trucks as well, so we were really happy to go with them,” said Michael.
“We never had a break down with it, but of course, we keep it well serviced.”
While Upside Projects has customers all around Sydney, including into regional New South Wales and up as far as Queensland – most of their jobs are in the Sydney metro area. The tidy size of the NPR Tipper makes it easy to squeeze into inner-city work sites, noted Michael.
“It’s actually a very easy vehicle to drive, it’s easy to get around in the city.
“It has a really capable turning circle, so we can park in fairly tight parking spots. The reverse camera also helps.”
Apart from their residential clients and private apartment renovations, Upside Projects does fit outs and compliance upgrades for an impressive portfolio of large commercial chains and supermarkets, including some well-known household names.
“About 60 per cent of our work comes from word of mouth and client retention,” said Michael.
“We have a great relationship with our commercial clients. If they ask us to jump, we say, ‘How high?’ We’re always reliable, always on time and the quality of work is always 100 per cent… that’s the way it’s been from the start.”
With important clients relying and expecting a first-class service, dependability has never been more important for Upside Projects, and they trust their Isuzu NPR Tipper to keep up the company’s good reputation—through the good times and bad.
“COVID-19 certainly had an impact on us, especially when it first hit. We lost 50 per cent of our business with jobs pushed back or cancelled,” said Michael.
“However, we are going strong and we’ve found work is picking up again since restrictions started easing in New South Wales,” he continued.
“We’ve built a bit of a name for ourselves in the industry and in times like these, we can only keep doing what can… and our truck plays an important role in that.
“And if you’re on the downside, you can count on us to bring the upside!” added Michael with a grin.