In recent years, building technology has become incredibly complex with each new innovation resulting in clients setting more challenging design requirements when planning new premises. i+R saw the potential of this situation and decided to position itself as a general building contractor with a special focus on providing innovative technological solutions for energy and other technical interior facilities.
“We wanted to specialize in managing highly complex developments,” explains Managing Director Peter Mostögl. “Technical installations make up 28 to 30% of the overall building costs, so it is important that these aspects meet our clients’ needs precisely and incorporate the latest design thinking. There are many such elements in a building and very often there are no suitable standard products. We have to create a prototype for each situation, which sets us a new technological challenge every time.”
Examples include building insulation, energy sources and distribution methods, and systems for control, regulation, monitoring and reporting, as well as alternative energies such as solar power; the ultimate aim is to provide optimum working and environmental conditions and an ongoing oversight of the installation whilst achieving significant long-term cost savings.
i+R provides its clients with a comprehensive service, undertaking the whole project from the search for an ideal site, project development and construction, internal finishing, through to handover of a fully completed building, engaging known and trusted specialist sub-contractors where necessary; however, the company’s skilled and experienced engineers take ownership for the energy and other technology involved.
“I compare us to a car manufacturer,” notes Mr. Mostögl. “We have a chassis which is the building shell construction, and a motor – the energy and building technology. There should be strong synergies between the chassis and motor; this connection is our strength. We have a fantastic building system with great supporting processes.”
i+R operates on a business to business basis, with industrial and commercial clients across all sectors. Typical projects include offices, factories, logistics centers, biogas installations, shopping centers and hotels.
Among the companies on its impressive client list are Europazentrale DMG Mori Schweiz AG in Winterthur, Switzerland, for which i+R project managed a prestigious office building, and the modern, high-tech Hymer Museum in Bad Waldsee in Germany; in Austria i+R developed office and production facilities for Salzmann Formblechtechnik in Hohenems and an industrial building for Erne Fittings.
i+R is headquartered in Lauterach, from where all project initiation is managed and, for Austrian projects, implementation is also undertaken; branch offices in Oberbüren, Switzerland and Lindau, Germany, take care of project implementation in their respective countries.
“At the moment, Germany is a very interesting area for us, especially Baden-Württemberg and western Bavaria,” says Mr. Mostögl. “We have also undertaken projects in the north and our aim is to significantly broaden our presence in the German market. We have been operating in Switzerland since 2008. It is a small market and we want to further consolidate our position. Our approach there is different; the client tells us what the project should cost and based on that, we advise him in which direction he should be thinking.”
i+R Industrie- & Gewerbebau belongs to the i+R Group which was founded in 1905 as a sawmill and carpentry concern, and grew steadily to its current position, with a number of subsidiaries undertaking industrial, commercial, and residential developments, civil engineering, window manufacture, renovations, and wooden buildings.
The last five years has seen the launch of i+R energie and i+R geotech which partner with the other group subsidiaries to provide energy technology such as geothermal and photovoltaic installations.
Mr. Mostögl joined the company in 1996, and undertook an apprenticeship in technical project management. He became particularly interested in building technology and recognized its future potential. In order to progress within the company, he studied business management and developed a particular interest and competence in marketing and strategic management, eventually moving from his technician role into the management function. This experience helped to shape his personal philosophy and that of the company, of which training and personal development is a vital component.
“I founded our in-house training academy for school leavers,” he explains. “All of our employees have come through such a system, and this helps us to achieve a high level of loyalty from our staff. Their skills are critical for our growth, enabling us to enter new market segments. To see a completed building is a very uplifting experience. When employees share this feeling and are fully committed to taking the company forward, and also experience the fun-factor – that is amazing. We have practically zero staff turnover, almost every employee who begins their career with us stays here.”
Integral to the culture of employee support is the approach of learning from experience. “We stand by what we do, even if something didn’t work so well,” continues Mr. Mostögl. “From a problem emerges a learning curve which is developed and documented. We talk about mistakes without criticism or escalation measures. Every mistake must be communicated because this error is intellectual capital for the company; we all learn from it, ensuring that it cannot happen again. Our employees completely support this philosophy.”
Over the past ten years, Mr. Mostögl has also strongly influenced process management and has clearly aligned processes to customer requirements. Whatever the project, everything business-related is subject to prescribed processes, enhancing the quality and reliability of the service.
The company currently relies heavily on word-of-mouth as a marketing tool which, demonstrated by the constant stream of new projects, works extremely well. Over the next twelve months, however, specific sales and marketing activities will be strengthened to boost the company’s market presence. This is especially important because the building industry is in a constant state of change.
There is an ever-decreasing supply of building land, particularly in Austria where there is an extreme shortage. Added to this is the level of bureaucracy created by the political landscape. i+R is therefore looking at brownfield sites as an option for the future, demolishing old buildings and using the site for new development rather than always seeking greenfield locations.
The company has already achieved its original goal of becoming a full service provider for industrial and commercial customers. Now the management is focusing on a new, long-term strategy.
“We cannot avoid trends such as digitization within the building industry,” concludes Mr. Mostögl. “We want to involve ourselves even more in building technology, that is very important to us. We are developing a vision which will carry us through the next ten years.”