Smart50 Awards 2014

38 Tu Projects

Revenue

More than $32 million

Growth

59.61%

Founders

Robert Rowe, 33

Head Office

Brisbane

Employees

42

Industry

Shopfitting

Website

www.tuprojects.com

Brisbane-based shopfitting company Tu Projects has had an impressive growth spurt in the last few years, taking on some major clients and almost tripling its revenue to more than $32 million.

Robert Rowe started the company in 2004 at just 23 years old, having worked in his family’s shopfitting business when he was young.

But Rowe wanted to build his own business from the ground up, believing he could use modern systems and technology to create a more cost-effective, transparent service for clients.

“I started by developing a software application for the shopfitting industry as there was currently nothing of its kind on the market,” says Rowe.

The company spent over $2 million on the system, known as ‘Tu Track’, which allows clients to visibly see the cost of their project and follow its progress step by step.

“It’s a great system that keeps us honest and keeps the client comfortable,” says Rowe.

Rowe says the transparent system helped the business establish a strong market position in a nervous climate after the global financial crisis.

Tu Projects now does 300 projects a year, with big name clients including restaurants such as Nando’s and Grill’d, and retailers such as Kookai and Ella Bache.

Rowe says the company is around two to three times bigger than its closest Australian competitor in the shopfitting category.

He also puts the company’s rapid growth down to its internal structures, which he consciously chose to grow during the financial crisis.

“Instead of closing our doors and isolating ourselves, we took on more internal resources. We started manufacturing internally and distributing our own products to keep costs low,” he says.

“We built a business on excellent, experienced people,” says Rowe, who wants to eventually offer staff the chance to become shareholders in the company.

Next year, Tu will launch in Los Angeles, Singapore and the Middle East, and Rowe says he sees huge potential for the company, especially in the US market.

He says shopfitting projects currently take considerably longer in the US, so there is potential to take Tu’s timely and efficient model into that market.

“We could be looking at billions of dollars of turnover, rather than hundreds of millions,” he says.

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