Dean Ipaviz is a green-star certified, licensed carpenter and builder with a green conscience who still loves throwing the tool belt on from time to time. We spoke to Dean about the highs and lows of his business journey as part of our beautiful business campaign.
Growing up, I always spent my free time outdoors. I loved to go camping, hiking and four-wheel driving. If it was outdoors I was into it. When I finished school I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I liked working outside. Mum sort of pushed me into landscaping and carpentry and I found the hard work quite rewarding. I travelled the world at 21 and did a few odd jobs and some study, only to realise that working with my hands was a passion of mine.
So I enrolled in an apprenticeship to pursue becoming a builder. I began exploring carpentry and really enjoyed it, but didn’t really want to be on the tools for the rest of my life. I suppose I had an inkling that I wanted to be managing projects and running my own ones some day.
Finding my own path
I ended up moving to Sydney and worked as a project manager for five years with a couple of other builders, which helped improve my technical building knowledge. I started wondering if I could be doing this myself and once that entered my mind it was hard to ignore. From there I started taking steps to become a business owner.
The crux of it was that I I was working on a really challenging commercial project in Sydney, with a difficult client and technically it required a lot of elements to bring everything together. It really felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. It practically broke me and made me think about going back to the tools. When I looked at the hours and the money I was paying the carpenters onsite it really made me question the stress I was putting myself through.
Shoulder to lean on
During that job I met my business partner, Matt, and with each other’s support we decided to start a building company with an initial focus on carpentry. This enabled us to find our feet in the buoyant Sydney market and set up what is currently known as Verdecon. We specialise in residential renovation but also dabble in commercial work. All of our boys completed their apprenticeships in the residential field so we appreciate the detail and intricacies involved in building a new home. We started as a small unit and have grown from there over the last three years. I look back at that challenging project now and realise it actually made me pretty resilient. Construction is a demanding industry – there can be a lot of complications and legal complexities – but at the end of it all you get to see a massive end result.
If I didn’t have the experience of the previous commercial project, I don’t know how I would have started a business. As they say, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, and to be honest as tough as that project was, I’m now very thankful for it. I wouldn’t have had the grit and determination to see through our latest challenging project which just happened to be around the corner from the one that almost stopped me in my tracks.
Over the last six months, it’s all come together for us. We’ve got a really good group of eight guys that work for us now. And, because of that, we’re starting to open up new opportunities that are really exciting. We’re seeing all the hard work and long hours put in during the early days start to pay off.