Adrian Torcasio likes to think outside the square.
It’s a tendency that had a major influence on the focus of Exterior Wall Solutions (EWS), the business that Adrian and his best mate, Santo Gatto, launched five years ago.
Based in Melbourne, EWS supplies, installs and renders wall and floor systems such as Hebel for houses and low rise multi-residential developments, as well as some commercial projects.
Adrian and Santo have been best friends since they were 12, and had been working together in the rendering industry when Adrian had what he describes as “a bit of a brainstorm”.
“I got the idea that Santo and I should start our own business, doing the type of work we were doing, but also filling a niche that I could see in the market,” he said. “I grew up with my family working in the hospitality industry, so from about the age of five I was absorbing the idea that it’s important to focus on the customer as well as the product.
“Once I began working in the construction industry, I could see that sometimes the right type of customer service wasn’t always available. Being a good tradie doesn’t always mean you’re a good business person. Some of the problems I saw weren’t because of the way people were doing their work, but because there were times when the customer service wasn’t up to standard.
“Having grown up with the philosophy that the customer is always right, and being inclined to think outside the square, I was then able to look at the situation in another way and see that rather than it being a problem, it was a niche we could do something about.”
Tradesmanship plus customer service
As a result of this way of thinking, Adrian and Santo started Exterior Wall Solutions with the aim of combining good tradesmanship with good customer service - and it has worked.
They both now project manage the work their teams carry out throughout the Melbourne suburbs and down to the Mornington Peninsula. They specialise in exterior work including external cladding systems, rendering, texturing and mouldings. At the same time, they continue to ensure that their clients receive the quality customer service and support that inspired Adrian to start the business in the first place.
Until starting his own business, Adrian had not worked with Hebel products.
“I began working with Hebel doing rendering on Carter Grange homes, which we still do,” he said. “We now work extensively with Hebel for other clients too, installing external walls, party walls and flooring.”
Recent projects undertaken by EWS cover a diversity of areas, including:
- a house in Drouin on which they installed Hebel cladding and completed the rendering
- a townhouse in Ivanhoe with Hebel external wall systems on the ground floor
- a multi-residential development comprising about 60 apartments which will soon be under way on Balcombe Road, Mentone. EWS will carry out all the Hebel cladding and rendering on this development.
Hebel’s advantages over brick
Adrian believes the Hebel external wall systems have major advantages over brick.
“Hebel is more time-effective because it’s easy and quick to install,” he said. “With builders now focusing on where they can save time, this is a big point in its favour. Its thermal properties are also a lot better than those you would get with a brick wall.”
Houses and low rise multi-residential developments currently account about equally for the demand for the EWS services, with Adrian seeing the multi-residential market remaining firm in Melbourne at this stage.
“I wouldn’t predict beyond the next 18 months but I certainly see it staying strong for that period in Melbourne,” he said.
(top photo) A townhouse development in Ivanhoe, Victoria, using Hebel external walls installed by EWS.