Roseville RSL - New Club - A Hit With Members

When Roseville RSL’s Board started putting together an expansion wish list, Secretary Manager Harry Wilkinson thought that there was no way it was achievable for the budget, summing the document up as champagne taste on a beer budget.

An accountant by profession, Harry had been involved with six renovations at various clubs during a 40-year career as a Secretary Manager and was speaking from experience.

Two years later, after examining the current and past work of five builders short listed by the Board, Harry believed that there was an outside chance the impossible could be achieved and recommended Merlot Constructions to the Board.

“After speaking to all of the secretary managers involved in various jobs by each of the five selected builders, I told the Board I wanted Merlot,” he said.

A record four months later Roseville was a different club and the Board was celebrating an outstanding bang for your bucks return.

“We extended into the building we owned next door, adding a smoking deck, a function room and a new kitchen, and we refurbishing the club inside and out – all in just four months and all for only $1.4m.

“Not only that, but Merlot refused to take a $5000 early completion bonus to which they were rightly entitled,” Harry enthused.

No retired, Harry looks back on the achievements of the renovation as a highlight of his 14 years with the Roseville club, making no bones about that fact that the new look was very much responsible for a healthy turnaround on the back of a 300% increase in membership.

He said that while four months and $1.4m might be impressive figures in their own right, they were all the more remarkable when it is considered that the introduction of smoking regulations caused some substantial alterations to the original proposal almost as the project was to commence.

“It was while we were resolving this that it became apparent just how easy Merlot’s people were to talk to, something that marked the entire project.”

Harry said that Roseville’s costs could easily have blown out had Merlot not talked the Board out of mid project changes by explaining what they would add both to the budget and the timeframe.

The relationship that developed between Roseville’s management and staff and the Merlot team was epitomized with beer deliveries. Because construction trucks blocked the delivery access, the Merlot crew happily moved kegs into the cellar for staff.

While the sheer scale of the job could easily have made life difficult for everyone, particularly patrons, Harry said that, if anything, the opposite was the case.

“When we ripped out the bar, things were a little ungainly for about three weeks, yet our trade during this period actually improved as the members made a point of calling in to see what was happening,” he said.

Other changes, though, were virtually seamless. Merlot designed the new kitchen to go in behind the operating one and once it was completed organized the changeover of services for a period when the kitchen wasn’t operating.

From Harry’s perspective, the cleverest feature of the Merlot design concepts is the utilisation of space.

“I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and as soon as I saw the first set of Merlot plans I knew they would work. It was obvious from the outset that these people knows our industry very well.”

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