Think builder. Think stereotype. Rugged outdoors bloke, weathered by the sun, mobile to his ear as he leans against the ute, his dog frolicking about in the tools and sand and gear on the tray.
Now think of two personable, academically credentialed, intensely focused young women: Melanie and Emma Fasham. Not your average builders. Not by a long way. Melanie and Emma jointly assumed management of the company created by their father, Trevor Fasham, on Trevor’s retirement from managing the business at an operational level in September 2011. It was not a case of instant elevation; both women had had conspicuously successful executive careers in major multinationals prior to joining the family business. Neither had previously given any thought to being builders—but the gravitational pull of good design, and the challenge of delivering high quality personal service in an industry not known for that, was too much to ignore. By the time their father retired they had logged a combined eleven years working in all divisions of the family business; learning—as the saying goes—the ropes.
Today they lead a business that continues to prosper in its 44th year, in a niche that Trevor Fasham made his own—individual contemporary homes for individual clients.
Emma is a licensed Real Estate agent with an MBA. Melanie is a chemical engineer by training, a registered builder in her own right, Deputy President of the MBAV, and the first female board member of the Master Builders Assn. of Victoria in 140 years.
All this and mothers too. Both women have two energetic boys each and are active in community affairs.
A long way from the builder stereotype.
Emma and Melanie divide management responsibility within the company along clear lines of skillsets and dispositions. Emma is responsible for client relationships, and oversight of design and marketing functions. Melanie has direct responsibility for estimating and oversight of purchasing and construction.
Both have a deep-seated love of good contemporary design and share a core belief in the critical importance of good client communications. Given the key role of women as clients in the home building sector (it is widely accepted that women have 70% or more of the decision-making influence in the sector) they constantly wonder that there are not more women in building management.
To Emma and Melanie their gender is just one more point of difference for this very different builder. A difference that, whilst significant, pales in importance alongside the company’s pivotal commitments to good design and outstanding personal service.