7 March 2024

Canberra's Rork Projects in voluntary administration

| Ian Bushnell
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Rork Projects’ John Paul Janke, front left, and Brian O’Rourke, front right, with staff. The company has been operating for 26 years. Photo: Rork Projects.

Another building company with ACT connections has fallen to the conditions plaguing the industry.

Rork Projects – Australia’s leading Indigenous construction company specialising in construction management, fit out and refurbishment – has called in administrators, citing a “tsunami of impossible economic conditions”.

Its three companies, registered in the ACT but with offices in Brisbane as well, were placed into voluntary administration on 1 March.

Rork Projects was founded in Canberra as Rork Designs in 1997 and expanded and diversified to operate across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.

All up, 63 active projects are affected, 14 of them reportedly in the ACT.

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Director Brian O’Rourke posted on the company website it was “with a heavy heart” that after 26 years of operations, Rork Projects was forced to go into voluntary administration.

“This was the final step in a long journey to find a solution for our staff, clients and subcontractors, and we acknowledge the devastating impact this outcome has on them,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said more than 2000 construction businesses had collapsed in 2023 due to high interest rates, labour shortages and material supply constraints following the pandemic.

“The construction market is facing one of the worst storms since the mid-1970 crisis,” he said.

“While devastating for us, it is also damaging to the Australian economy and community.”

Rork Projects’ website shows a long list of government and corporate projects in the ACT, including Scarborough House in Phillip, multiple University of Canberra projects, the Phillipines Embassy, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, Amaroo School and the City Walk Upgrade.

An ACT Government spokesperson said the company was not involved in any of its outstanding projects.

Other reports stated Rork was doing the fit-out at the Canberra Innovation Network’s city offices at 1 Moore Street but CEO Petr Adámek said the company had only tendered for the project.

According to the Rork website, husband and wife Brian and Angela O’Rourke started the company in the spare bedroom of a rented high-rise apartment in Kingston. It is believed to have about 85 employees.

The business grew to become a national, award-winning company that Mr O’Rourke came to share with childhood friend John Paul Janke.

READ ALSO Business outlook ‘isn’t fantastic’ with the ACT standing alone in reporting a fall in investment

The company is now in the hands of McGrathNicol administrators Mark Holland, Anthony Connelly and Jamie Harris.

McGrathNicol Partner and Voluntary Administrator Mark Holland said an urgent business assessment was underway, including exploring a sale or restructure.

“We will work with site managers to pause work and secure project sites whilst that assessment is being undertaken,” he said.

The administrators would not disclose what projects were affected until the creditors’ meeting.

Last month, Cubitt’s Granny Flats and Home Extensions, which operated in NSW and the ACT, went into voluntary administration. It owed nearly $4 million and had 11 active projects in Canberra.

They said bank lending conditions, supply prices, taxation changes, insurance prices, COVID recovery and lengthy weather events had taken their toll on the company.

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Not good, with Project Coordination going into Administration as well, surprised if any houses get finished this year.

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