Aussie Businesses in NYC – and where to find them: Wellbuilt

There are literally dozens of Australian businesses who have opened shop in New York.  Some we know well, and others not so well.

We want our readers to learn about these businesses, where they are located, as well as share the personal stories of their owners.

We spoke with Mitch Kidd, one half of WellBuilt Co – an Australian Construction and Development company making waves in New York and the Tri State Area.

Mitch, where were you born and raised in Australia?

I was born and raised in Orange NSW, and studied at The University of New South Wales.

What did you do in Australia before arriving in the US?

I was a freelance construction manager and involved in several start-ups in Real Estate, Investment and Development.

What brought you to the US?

After a stint of backpacking I was back home in Australia and not quite ready to slot back into the status quo. I had a comfortable life, a good income, and all of my family and friends in Australia.

However, the drive to travel, work, and seek opportunities abroad was too enticing, and I moved to Colorado in 2008 after locking in a job with an Aspen construction firm.

What inspired you to start Wellbuilt?

The Catalyst for Wellbuilt came at the end of 2008 when I was made redundant from the construction firm in Aspen. This was at the height of the recession and work was scarce.

I was in a coffee shop one day talking with an acquaintance named Bob, whom I had met through my university friend Scott Lumby. Scott and Bob coached rugby together at Harvard. Bob suggested that I come out to New York and take a look at a construction project he was considering. Three weeks later I landed in New York with only my back pack and a potential construction project to tie me over.

In order to do this however, I would first need to become a licensed and insured builder with New York City, have a legitimate company, and a physical place of business. So, after several weeks of paperwork, tests, and standing in lines at the various city agencies, I had a legitimate New York construction company.

The company started with the construction site doubling as the company head quarters, and also my home for 10 months while money was still very tight. It was definitely a humbling experience sleeping between piles of drywall and showering in a bathtub with no walls!

Joey is always ready to assist with the “Hard Yakka”!

What is unique about Wellbuilt?

We are approaching 10 years in business but I still consider us a young company in an industry that is still quite “old school’ in the way that things get done. Starting the company in a recession taught me a lot about doing a lot with little, and being able to diversify the products and services depending on the client. To this day it has meant a more efficient company operation that is malleable to changes in the market.

Adapting technology was one thing we did do early. This includes, but is not limited to cloud operating systems, online project management tools, live site streaming, and more recently modular construction systems. The bi-product of this is lower operating costs, faster means of communication, faster construction times, and better quality control.

We have quite a diverse workforce and it allows to deliver services across various market segments (commercial, medical, retail, multifamily, residential). We are able to be resource for the client at any stage of the project, be it the GC for the for main build phase, a sub contractor for an individual scope item or, a vender they call on post project for ongoing maintenance & repairs.

What advice do you have for any Australians thinking of starting a business in the US?

It’s a lot of hard work and its going to take time but, Go for it. The US (from my experience) has a supportive culture when it comes to business entrepreneurs and there are many opportunities out there for those willing to “have a go”.

There is less of a tall poppy mentality so don’t hold back. There is no shortage of networking opportunities where you can find like minded people willing to share their experiences or looking to invest in someone just like you.

What unique quality does being an Australian bring to your business?

Australians have a strong work ethic and I think any American who has worked with an Aussie would agree with that. On top of that, I have not met an American to date that hasn’t had a good time with an Aussie at some time or another.

That Nostalgia gives you an instant rapport and a foot in the door.

You can visit Wellbuilt on the web to view some of their Commercial and Residential projects.