An Interview with Hopkins Construction
With the combined skillsets of carpentry & landscaping, Andrew Hopkins (Hopkins Construction) started his own business at the age of 24, offering a complete service of outdoor entertainment for homeowners in South East Melbourne.
Bowens caught up with Andrew to discuss how he got into the trade, the success of the business and any advice for aspiring builders.
How did you get into the trade?
I started doing work experience in high school with a local builder who built my parent’s house. He was a prestigious builder and a few of his projects were featured in Grand Designs, working with someone with that experience was incredibly rewarding. After completing my work experience with him, he offered me an apprenticeship and I worked with him for a few years.
After that, I got some work with another business that was doing carpentry maintenance on electrical substations all around Victoria. It was a different area of expertise, but it resulted in power line licenses and truck and machine licenses, which have been beneficial to my business today.
Once I was qualified, I began working for a framing crew before I blew out my shoulder in a snowboarding accident. I was unable to work for some time.
A friend of mine was doing landscaping, so I went and worked for him and he taught me everything he knew. Coincidentally, he ended up having an accident, so I had to take over all the work and was essentially thrown into the deep end.
After managing a lot of jobs on my own, I realised that I could start my own business and harness my skillset of both landscaping and carpentry. That’s when Hopkins Construction started.
Does your combined skillset of carpentry & landscaping offer a competitive advantage?
Most clients prefer to have the least number of tradesmen on site as possible. So instead of getting carpenters to complete the deck and pavers to do a slab, you can offer a service from start to finish. It also means you have full control of the job and everyone working on it is invested. It is all-round beneficial for both parties.
“Most clients prefer to have the least number of tradesmen on site as possible. So instead of getting carpenters to complete the deck and pavers to do a slab, you can offer a service from start to finish.”
What does your business specialise in?
We mainly specialise in outdoor entertainment, such as feature concrete, barbeque areas, floating steps, feature screens, anything that complements an outdoor deck.
“We mainly specialise in outdoor entertainment, such as feature concrete, barbeque areas, floating steps, feature screens, anything that complements an outdoor deck.”
A benefit of specialising in outdoor entertainment is that the jobs we do are incredibly photogenic, we can also churn them out within a couple of days. So, when we are uploading images to our Instagram, they’re frequent, and they look great.
Do you receive much work through social media?
About 95% of our work comes through Instagram. Especially as the weather gets warmer and we are posting more images of our projects, many people see the post and send us a message.
Sometimes the boys say to me, “we haven’t done a barbeque in a while,” so I’ll start putting up some stories of barbeques we have completed in the past and within that week, we’ll get one or two phone calls.
During COVID-19, a lot of homeowners spent plenty of time on social media planning their next backyard project. Without the means of travel, a lot of households used the money they would spend on a holiday to renovate their backyard. Those two factors combined resulted in plenty of inquiries through Instagram.
What advice would you give to builders looking to build a cohesive team?
Culture really is everything. You do not need to be the best tradesman in the world because those skills can be developed over time. I would much prefer someone to be punctual and have manners than someone who is a skilled tradesman but rocks up late and is impolite.
“Culture really is everything. You do not need to be the best tradesman in the world because those skills can be developed over time.”
Once you hire a team that embodies those characteristics, that is where the teamwork comes in and you have great morale. If you’re in a team, you also don’t want to let each other down so you get the attitude from the get-go.