How a coin toss brought Pauric Cussen of Europa Constructions to a new life in Australia with Hebel

A toss of a coin more than twenty years ago brought Pauric Cussen to Australia and to an association with Hebel that is still thriving.

At the time, Pauric was a 21 year old Irish bricklayer with a yen for bluer skies and warmer weather than he could hope for in his home town in County Meath, north of Dublin.

“I tossed a coin one day with a friend and said ‘It’s America or Australia,’ and within three weeks we were in Australia,” he recalls.

That was in 1993, just a few years after CSR had started production of the autoclaved aerated concrete material known as Hebel, which was already popular throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia as an alternative to standard masonry products.

Pauric’s first job in Australia was with a Hebel installation company – and the rest, as he says, is history. As well as deciding he wanted to stay in Australia, he also had no doubt that he wanted to continue working with Hebel products.

“I could see from the start that Hebel was the way of the future,” he said, explaining his long-standing commitment to the product. “It’s environmentally friendly, it’s quick to install, and there’s nothing to compare with its insulation properties. Installed correctly, it’s a fabulous product.”

Europa Constructions covers all aspects of Hebel installation

Within just three years Pauric had started his own business, Europa Constructions Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based company which specialises in the installation of CSR Hebel products.

Europa’s installation of Hebel systems covers a diversity of areas including residential, commercial, industrial and civil.

Hebel PowerBlock+ installation is a particular speciality, with the company also offering years of expertise in Hebel floor and wall systems.  In addition to Pauric’s own long experience installing Hebel systems he has the assistance of a highly skilled crew which includes brothers, Andy and John Bettini, who have been working with Hebel almost since its introduction to Australia.

Hebel’s light weight provided the solution

The lightweight nature of Hebel, as Pauric has found over the years, is another of the many benefits that make it a strong favourite in the industry. This was evidenced in a recent project for Europa involving the replacement of all the balconies of the 35-unit Wimbourne Apartments building at Bronte, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“It was because of the diversity of Hebel that we were able to use it,” said Pauric.

With residents still living in their units during the work, Hebel PowerFloor+ was chosen for the project because of its ease and speed of installation.

At about a quarter of the density of concrete, and needing only the use of a lightweight steel structure hung from the roof rather than scaffolding and formwork, the Hebel PowerFloor+ provided the perfect solution to the project’s requirements. It also resulted in extra space for residents, extending their balconies out an extra half metre compared with the previous structures.

“It was because of the diversity of Hebel that we were able to use it,” said Pauric.

Hebel PowerFloor+ load bearing floor system used for apartment refurbishment.

One of the many other major projects for which Europa has carried out work in Sydney is the TransGrid Beaconsfield Substation refurbishment project, where the company installed a Hebel PowerShield System – using 125mm Hebel vertical wall panels – for a new building at the substation.

Hebel PowerShield system installed at TransGrid Beaconsfield Substation

Crew travels widely to install Hebel systems

The Europa team does not confine itself to Sydney. “We’ll travel anywhere in New South Wales or interstate,” said Pauric. “We employ only tradesmen who do quality work and, whatever aspect of Hebel we work with, we make sure everything is installed to the manufacturing specifications 100%.”

While prepared to travel wherever the work takes him, Pauric has called Australia home since arriving here.  The friend who accompanied him from Ireland also decided to stay and has settled in Queensland.

For Pauric, in retrospect, that long ago coin toss in Ireland represented a rare but fortunate impulse.

“I never gamble,” he said. “But you back yourself, I suppose. You back your abilities. I’ve found there are opportunities here if you’re willing to work hard. Along with that, CSR have been really good and supportive to me over the years. I know I made the right choice.”

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