Blackbird Projects founder Ollie Mules believes his business offers something unique, and to achieve that, he needs suppliers who can do the same. That is why he relies on PlaceMakers to support him with a wide range of projects.
Based in Auckland, Ollie founded Blackbird Projects as a one-stop shop for construction, landscaping, and painting services. They handle all aspects of a client’s project from design to completion in-house. It is a company that stands out by doing things differently and having a significant impact on its clients.
“It is a unique selling point for us and I have always thought there was an opportunity in the market for a company like ours,” explains Ollie. “I enjoy the visual side of landscaping and have worked in construction, so the two seemed like a natural fit for me.”
Ollie considered studying architecture in Wellington but was drawn to working in the ski industry in Japan, Austria, and Canada. Upon returning, he pursued a career in building.
“I had worked on building projects during my last two years at school, so when I returned from overseas, it felt natural for me to jump back into it,” says Ollie.
“Then I got into the renovations game and played to my creative strengths by including landscaping. I think you can get huge value for money from a good landscaping job. Sometimes all we did on a house was improve the landscaping and give it a lick of paint and we would be able to turn a good profit.”
After honing his skills in building, landscaping, and painting, Ollie combined them to create a multi-disciplinary business called Blackbird Projects. The company now has 38 employees, including 14 landscapers and four painters. Blackbird Projects has received recognition for its top-quality building ability through various awards, including a Registered Master Builders Gold Award.
“Our mission is to make life as easy as possible for our client. By having three skills under one umbrella, we can do that. Our project managers handle all aspects of a job, so we control everything.”
“It means we can collaborate closely on each stage of work. For example, we can start painting a finished section of a house before overall construction is complete.”
Unlike some other companies in the industry, Ollie says he has not found it too hard to recruit or retain staff due to the culture he has fostered within his business.
“I work hard to put the culture of the company ahead of everything else, including profit. I want to work with people I enjoy being around and who I trust, and that flows through into a good work environment for everyone. As a result, our staff retention is good, as people feel like they’re a part of something,” Ollie says.
“To be honest, it has been scary having so many people involved in something I am so passionate about, which is why ensuring the company retains a culture I can be proud of is so important to me.”
Maintaining excellent relationships and quality does not just depend on the team’s skill. When Blackbird takes on a project, Ollie is confident that the material supply is covered, thanks to PlaceMakers.
“The relationship between myself and our PlaceMakers Wairau Valley reps Fiona and David McConchie is awesome – they know our business inside and out, including what we need to be able to run smoothly.”
“Their business support is excellent and comes down to doing simple things right, such as making sure that we receive materials in a timely manner – whether that is great service at the branch or deliveries on site. As a result, they have been the one constant throughout the growth of the business,” Ollie says.
A large part of why he has remained a loyal PlaceMakers customer for so long is also thanks to the duo’s product knowledge.
“Their product knowledge is exceptional. Even though PlaceMakers is a big company, I feel like they are always looking after you and have a vested interest in your success.”
One project that PlaceMakers went above and beyond for was Blackbird’s installation of 12 pools at The Pool House’s display centre.
“We are The Pool House’s preferred landscape design and installation company,” explains Ollie.
“We saw the opportunity for PlaceMakers to get involved and they supplied everything from decking to pool fencing, different displays of timber, and retaining and blockwork.”
“You will never have the opportunity to put 12 pools into an area like that and landscape it all – and it would not have come together without the brilliant support of PlaceMakers,” Ollie said.