Ever so often an industry will host the emergence of a game changer; one who perceives and pursues his or her passions with diligence coupled with sparks of innovation. Ian McNally exudes these characteristics and continues to spearhead a team of professionals who are taking the construction industry by storm. He is a husband and father who balances crucial family time with building his skills and knowledge in an ever –changing and competitive industry.
As director of RELMAC Construction, McNally puts the client at the centre of the work. In his mind, maintaining oversight of the business means making the construction experience as seamless as possible. He applies years of project management experience to his projects. His business philosophy has resulted in clients having more e cient and positive engagement from conceptualization to implementation. With McNally at the helm, easy keeps getting easier.
Trained as an electrical engineer, his career choice meant he could have gone in several directions. “I decided pretty early that I wanted to do construction, speci cally project management. It gives you a good solid basis and understanding of how projects work and how to run them successfully,” he said.
After completing the engineering programme at Florida Institute of Technology and an MBA shortly after, he returned to Jamaica and dived into a stream of project management assignments. “I was fortunate to work with the Ciboney Group by managing construction projects for them. And so the business certainly evolved from there.”With solid professionals behind him, McNally developed a business model where the team facilitated the execution of the various tasks by connecting architects, engineers and other specialists. Therefore, the client could engage one entity from start to nish.
CHANGING THE FACE OF CONSTRUCTION
He described the common perception of contractors, which often included client angst, frustration and some jarring exchanges along the trajectory to the nished product. “Years gone by contractors got a bad rap, and were described as di cult to deal with. We have tried to change the face of construction. We wanted to become the contractors and developers who are approachable and easy to work with. We like clients to be comfortable with us and to talk to us right up front,” McNally adds.
According to McNally, typically a contractor would come in near the end of the project, “but, because we bring the project management skillset even though we are the ones doing the construction, the client becomes comfortable and con dent in the advice and direction right from the start and certainly becomes more self- assured that things are being managed within budget.”
Vidal Dowding, architect, founder and director of Atelier Vidal, spoke to KÚYA about working with the RELMAC team. “We have worked with RELMAC on several projects over the last four years,” said Dowding, “and Ian McNally and his team are very e cient in communication and execution of the work. With his extensive experience in project management, Ian easily bridges the gap between the architectural and structural teams.”
WIDE OPEN SPACES
Over the years RELMAC has added a blend of resort and residential projects to its body of work. The portfolio includes Sandals Grande Manor, Secrets and the Fern Tree Spa at the Half Moon Hotel. The more recent developments include the Norbrook Palms, with six two- bedroom units, each unit boasting approximately 1300 square feet of open oor plans with modern xtures. Another gem is Old Fort Bay Village, a combination of luxurious townhouses and apartments, which are nestled in a captivating reserve in St. Ann, with accessible green spaces and the enviable allure of the beach just a short walk away. From these and other residential developments McNally has shown his understanding of contemporary aesthetics, the importance of details and the need for a sense of privacy for each dwelling.
“Hotel projects are very exciting,” says McNally, who adds “they encompass so many aspects of the construction. The hotel business is also always changing so you have a lot of variations in the room styles.” He alluded to the advent of even more of the open space concept in the marketplace. “We are seeing less walls and more open rooms looking onto patios or even looking out to the sea.”
What is driving this? To McNally, there is increasingly a sort of contemporary feel in the marketplace. “Generally interior architecture and interior design have gone to more open concepts. Even in residential spaces you see more uses of large open spaces. Now people are using their furniture to de ne speci cs spaces. Years ago you would see persons with separate living rooms, entertainment rooms and so these were all separated by walls.” The multiplicity in variables has come together, McNally points out.
“We now do more construction with some development, and it is very collaborative. We’ve done a fair amount of private residences, which we have been attracting a bit more. It ties into our philosophy. The construction process should be enjoyable and fun, and it’s interesting to see the project come to life. We want to make it a great exercise so that people want to keep building.”
He explained that a part of the joy in residential development is the additional exibility and creativity that the portfolio allows. “We get to inform the design based on what the market is telling us and based on what we see are the emerging needs.”
To McNally there is a natural progression for RELMAC in the realm of residential developments. “We enjoy the resort portfolio, but we do want to do more residential development. Certainly design-wise, this means “more modern but not over the top developments that have a Caribbean feel, but are very clean with simple lines and with the modern amenities and modern conveniences. For example, we look at having switches at the appropriate heights, in line with your bed, with recess lighting as well. There won’t be need for a bedside lamp.” Here, he conveys an appreciation of the crossover that one would see with some of the conveniences in a hotel room now appearing in a residential space. “Sometimes it is the small simple things that make a di erence,” McNally adds.
OVER THE HURDLES
“It isn’t always easy to do business in Jamaica. It’s a small economy and the industry is cyclical and volatile. But, the size of Jamaica and lends itself to rapport-building. The state of the economy, the regularity of work and the ability to have enough projects going while continuing to grow the business is di cult,” McNally admits.
One thing is certain. He loves his work. He doesn’t describe any of the projects without a glimmer in his eyes. He describes them with an intense business ethic, yet with a thrill, as if each project was his rst. And even while re ecting on these incremental successes, Ian McNally is charting a course for bigger and for better.