Local steel business shaping Melbourne’s transport future

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For over more than 30 years, the Stilcon Group has played a leading role in shaping Melbourne’s built environment – from the Westgate Bridge to Deakin University, Chadstone Shopping Centre, multiple level crossing removal projects and so much more.

And now the family-owned business is playing a pivotal role in the $11 billion Metro Tunnel project, supplying and installing more than 500,000 steel components, which required an extensive and complex logistics solution to ensure the job is done effectively and efficiently.

Founder Nick Babic created Stilcon Steel in 1987 as a newly arrived immigrant from Croatia and brought with him a vision to create something special.

Since then under the Stilcon Group umbrella, the company has expanded into scaffolding and plant hire, and built a strong local labour workforce of more than 300 people.

Nick’s daughter, and Stilcon Steel Business Services Director, Simone Babic said the business grew off the back of her father’s reputation of hard work and honesty to get things done.

“He developed great relationships across the industry, and to this day, he still has those relationships,” she said.

“Stilcon started out in a small factory in Preston. And now here we are on a 52,000 sqm site including a 17,500 sqm production facility, state of the art paint facility and impressive external gantry.”

Stilcon’s more recent expansion and wider capability means it can provide end-to-end service. The formation of Stilcon Solutions manages integrated works packages involving multiple contractors from design through to final installation and handover resulting in real value add to our clients.

“One of our key strengths is that we have full control of project delivery as we have all aspects in-house including scaffolding, equipment and crane hire, a loyal labour force, production and specialist coating facilities. We also have a solid supply chain which we work closely with to deliver to our clients.” Simone said.

“During the tendering process for the tunnel project we identified the opportunity to manage multiple other works packages as the installation was so intrinsic to the steel being installed in a co-ordinated manner.  Anzac station iconic steel canopy was also well placed to take on the installation of highly complex cross laminated timber and handrails packages resulting in reduced time on site and less co-ordination issues.  Traralgon station we delivered the structural steel, scaffolding, cladding, roofing, glazing and handrail packages and installed a 45m long 100T steel overpass bridge that was fully pre-assembled and clad offsite.  We take on integrated works packages that are intrinsic to the steel to make life easier for the builder”.

The Metro Tunnel Project is the biggest public transport project in Victoria’s history. It will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne/Pakenham in the south-east with twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels travelling underneath Swanston Street in the CBD, as well as five new underground stations and tunnel entrances at Kensington and South Yarra.

For Stilcon, involvement in the project began when ICN Victoria Consultant, Noel Morton, approached Group Director Tony Ballantyne with the outline proposal to consider the work package.

“We take on packages we know we can deliver and deliver well, so we carefully select the packages we tender for based on several criteria.  Through a series of conversations about the Metro Tunnel, we decided to tender for it,” Simone said.

As Stilcon is a premium Gateway supplier, Noel was able to research its capabilities and marry them up to the project, with Stilcon preparing – and winning – the tender.

According to Tony, this is one of the many advantages of being a premium subscriber the hard work at the front end is already done for you.

“Premium allows us to filter the projects and seek relevant opportunities ahead of time,” he said.

“It also shows us what the market is doing due to the projects listed such as defence, infrastructure, etc – this allows us as a business to adjust to the upcoming market and sector activity.

“We base our 3-year strategic planning on such information so that Stilcon continues to grow, contributes to more job creation and keeps our local manufacturing busy.”

During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stilcon took advantage of the construction opportunities of Victoria’s Big Build, such as the Chisholm Prison, to keep people in jobs and grow the business. This project, as well as many others, were listed on ICN Gateway.

“The infrastructure work in Victoria is pushing out into every direction, everywhere. It’s actually mind blowing when you start really delving down into projects and how Melbourne is taking shape as a city is truly incredible.”

“We’re really privileged to be part of that.”

The tunnel project allowed Stilcon to diversify into light, high volume steel work across the major transport project and Simone says that without ICN, Stilcon may not have tendered for the package.

“Those conversations of exploration we had with ICN and their expertise in matching our capabilities to the project, is what was the true success story as far as ICN goes. That’s what the network is there for. And it just works perfectly,” she said.

“Keeping people employed is a key focus of ours. And we’re in a situation now where we need more people as we continue on our growth trajectory.”

For more information on Stilcon, go to the company website.


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