Leon Bowes is the Founder and Director of Apollo Property Group. He has more than 16 years in Queensland’s construction industry, in which time he has successfully completed over 500 fit-out and refurbishment projects. Leon has intimate local knowledge of the Brisbane office market including working with Landlords, Building Managers, Tenants and Architects.
I’ve also always enjoyed working in teams and collaboratively, so property seemed to be a logical fit on many levels.
Q. What inspired you to go out on your own?
As a kid I was always reasonably determined and I always had a hunger to learn and grow. I had very little real business knowledge but I knew I wanted to part of it!Later in my working career property guru Kevin Miller (Managing Director of “Property Solutions”) helped me get a job at Hutchinson’s Builders. From there, I was very fortunate to spend time working with, and learning from men like Scott Hutchinson and John Berlese.
I learnt so much from these two about the way to do business. To be fair, delivering high quality buildings was a steep learning curve but I tried hard and watched and listened. Both men treated their staff with the utmost respect and displayed humility in spades.
They treated their subbies like their staff, their clients’ money like their own and didn’t bow down to the corporate nonsense that hinders innovation and cripples opportunities. We were always trying new things and never once said it ‘couldn’t be done’.
People were always paid, and like the Apollo Property Group now, I can’t remember a client that wasn’t repeat business. I am so grateful for the lessons learnt there and the inspiration it gave me.
Q. What work does your business specialise in?
Commercial office fitout and commercial refurbishment that is driven by design and with a real focus on sustainable and cost-effective ways to bring projects to life.
Particularly with the refurbishment arm of the business, we like to use existing structures and materials as much as possible. Doing that can take a little bit more planning and creativity than simply re-inventing the same wheel each time, but it also means that the client gets a better result from a cost perspective. Also, if you retain the character of a building that also ensures the value of the client’s asset is also retained and will improve over time.
Apollo Property Group project at 334 Queen Street, Brisbane.
Our view is we are partnering with our clients for the project, rather than the traditional builder/client relationship that can often be adversarial. We pride ourselves on the way we look ahead and we do more than what the client would consider “our job” in order to guarantee a project’s success.
We set a pretty cracking pace, we deliver over 100 projects each year, including reinventing Jimmy’s on the Mall, the Homemaker Centre in Fortitude Valley, the Queen’s Arms Hotel, CBD office buildings in Queen Street, Adelaide Street, Eagle Street and more.
We’re extremely hands on and we’re very nimble because of our relative size to the competition, so we can be very responsive to a client’s needs that can vary over the life of a project.
Ultimately, it’s the quality of our work that sets us apart, we’re pretty uncompromising when it comes to the finished product.
Q. What makes you tick? What drives your enthusiasm for this industry?
Working with people. Almost all projects are very dear to at least one of the stakeholders involved and our guarantee of successful delivery is a strong bond we build with our clients. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.
Developers, architects, project managers and the business owners we build for are all naturally passionate people, so it’s always exciting to work through some often robust discussions that accompany a project life cycle.
No day is ever the same and the best laid plans usually go out the window at 6am and we are onto plan 8 and 9 soon afterwards.
But we get there in the end and it’s extremely rewarding to see a project come to life and be delivered on time and on budget.
Apollo Property Group project at 110 Mary Street, Brisbane.
My hope is we continue to explore and push the design process hard, rather than deliver cookie cutter projects that are an eyesore in our community.
Q. What advice would you give to those looking to get in to the industry?
Get started. In property there is no learning like the act of doing. Get out there and get amongst it, the more projects you do and the more obstacles you have to overcome, the better off you will be and the faster you will learn.
Q. What do you do in your “down time” to keep your energy levels up?
I have a young family so that always keeps me on my toes and very busy along with work. I’m also recently swapped out drinks for running, so I’m up at dawn to get the fitness going. While it’s pretty draining at times, it’s a great way to start the day, it gives you a real jolt of energy and motivates me to get into it in the morning. Good coffee also helps with that!