Established in the Caribbean in 2013, 3D modelling tech company Argo Developments has seven full-time staff at in Dublin, and eight in Barbados.
HAVING been established in the Caribbean in 2013, Argo Developments currently has seven full-time employees at its recently opened Dublin office, with an additional eight based in its Barbados headquarters.
The company also has staff involved in projects on the islands of St Kitts, St Vincent, Tortola and St Maarten.
Revenue in the current year is €2m, and is expected to double in 2018 as the building industry in Ireland and internationally recovers.
“There is no doubt that 3D Building Information Modelling technology is arguably the most important development in a decade in the practice of Architectural Technology and is radically transforming the construction industry. However, the growth of industry adoption over the last five years has not been met by a sufficient increase in the supply of BIM trained professionals,” David Campion explains of the technology central to his company’s expansion.
BIM is a 3D model-based design process rooted in science and engineering that offers architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.
“Until recently, access to additional resources trained in this new way of working have been very limited.
“But now, with the launch of the Argo Centre of Technical Expertise in Dublin, our certified architectural technologists are available to developers, contractors and architectural design firms to provide design development services through BIM, delivering up to 20% cost savings over conventionally delivered projects.”
In addition to BIM, the company also provides development consultancy services, from concept to completion, to assist clients in safeguarding the project journey. The business has operated in 22 countries to date, on a number of cross-sectoral projects for brands including Virgin, Digicel, Marriott, Radisson, Sandals, Mercedes and Suzuki, along with a number of developers and governments in the Caribbean.
Argo won an International Property Award for its work on the Marriott Hotel in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2016.
“Recent wins of a residential development in Dublin and the BIM design development of Bermuda’s new international airport are testament to the growing demand in the marketplace.” Argo currently has ongoing projects in eight countries. “We can pitch a 13-hour work day to clients, because when our Dublin office clicks off our Caribbean office continues the work. This allows us to compete for time-demanding projects.”
Mr Campion’s career path was set from an early age, due in part to his father’s construction business in Dublin.
“Every summer my brothers and I worked on building sites doing everything from mixing plaster to humping cement and blocks,” he recalled. “Then, one summer I got work experience with the Murray O’Laoire architectural firm and found myself really loving the business and ended up doing a year-long stint of work experience before going to college in Limerick to study architectural technology.”
During his first summer break from college in 1992, he got the opportunity to work with Murray O’Laoire in Moscow, on the construction of the Stolichny Bank headquarters along the Moskva River.
“It was an eye-opener to the world Moscow certainly wasn’t the safest place back then, and we all had personal bodyguards when we went to the building site.”
Beginning his career working in San Francisco with Murphy Engineering, he worked on projects earthquake proofing apartment blocks and learning how buildings behave under extreme force - experience that would prove very useful throughout his future career in the Caribbean. Returning to a building boom Ireland in 1997, he took a full-time position with Murray O’Laoire.
“In 2008, the company won the design of a luxury hotel in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and I joined the team to lead its technical development. The project involved over 1000 bedrooms and was challenged with an aggressive program and so needed multiple teams.”
Moving his family to Barbados in 2010 to set up Murray O’Laoire’s Caribbean and South American offices, he worked on the Buccaneer Bay Hotel on Vincent, in addition to a number of other prospects around the Caribbean. However, in March 2010, Murray O’Laoire Architects went into liquidation.
“It was a huge shock. It was the largest architectural firm in Ireland with a staff of 360 at offices in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Barbados. This sent shockwaves around the industry,” he added. “I had only just settled in the family to this new world, and suddenly we were dealing with this reality. I took a job offer to set up the design office for a Caribbean hotel developer, and assembled a team of architects, interior designers, quantity surveyors, and project managers to prog- ress the developer’s portfolio.”
Overseeing a team of 40 professionals, the studio had projects across the Caribbean in Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Dominican Republic.
In January 2013, he established the Argo Development Studio in Barbados. “I always had one eye back on Ireland, because I wanted a business connected to my home. Establishing a presence in Ireland also allows Argo to benefit from being located in two time zones.”
As the only business of its kind solely focused on design development, his ambition is to become the leading architectural technologist resource in Europe and the Caribbean. The company’s “techiedrop” service provides ArchitecSt. tural Technologist expertise to any office or site in any location around the world to assist developers, contractors and architectural design practices in safeguarding the design development and delivery stage of any construction or infrastructure project.
“Our techiedrop service has deployed staff into seven countries to date to work on projects which include data centres, airports, hotels, offices and retail. Experienced, creative and innovative, these technologists are certified BIM professionals and can provide logical and detailed solutions using construction technologies to form the link between design and delivery, underpinned by science and engineering, essential to the design of buildings and structures.”
Looking to the future, David Campion sees an Ireland that has “learned from the hard economic mistakes of the last decade”, and also offers a source of graduate talent that will see the company grow into other territories. “The quality of third level graduate in Ireland matches the best out there in the world, and that, combined with a work ethic that is admired around the world, ensures a good future.”