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HammerTech appoints ex Aconex co-founder Rob Phillpot to help with global expansion

Melbourne-based construction software company HammerTech is set to accelerate growth having appointed industry veteran Aconex Co-founder Rob Phillpot as a strategic adviser.

Phillpot is best known as co-founder of Melbourne-born construction-tech company Aconex, which was sold to Oracle in 2018 for $1.6 billion. He joins HammerTech, provider of safety and site operations software to revered construction contractors across the globe, at an opportune time in the company’s growth journey.

Phillpot said the timing for growth for HammerTech is a perfect storm. “The construction industry is already big and only getting bigger. Plus, projects are getting larger and more complex. And now the industry is turning around the historical laggard tag by starting to spend more on technology. The industry is pragmatic enough to know the right software can make their life better. And finally, there are a range of disruptive technologies that are enabling problems to be solved even more efficiently and better.

"The good news is that there is increasing demand, increasing spend, tools are getting more sophisticated and there is a willingness to use them.”

Founded in 2013 to solve the efficiency and worker safety challenges on jobsites, HammerTech is the now preferred solution for the Australian market used by 85 of the country’s top 100 construction companies. In May last year, HammerTech expanded into the UK and Ireland and has since reported significant growth where it was already established in the US, Canada and New Zealand.

It now has 100 employees worldwide and remains headquartered out of Melbourne. Globally, 450 companies are using the software which has been rolled out on more than 15,000 projects involving millions of workers.

HammerTech Co-Founder and CEO Ben Leach has known Phillpot for more than a decade and said he is looking forward to him advising the company on an official basis.

“Rob is invested in our vision for safer construction sites and deeply understands the global market we operate in. Formally appointing him is a natural next step for the business. I expect his advice will have an immediate and significant impact on our growth trajectory,” Leach said.

“As HammerTech continues to invest in innovation and move with momentum into new markets, Rob’s network and experience leading Aconex through global expansion will be a significant asset.”

Phillpot’s appointment comes at a time when the construction technology market is moving rapidly and evolving to respond to market demands around automation, AI, remote work and software consolidation.

“HammerTech is already a substantial business and the leading player in its sector in the Australian market and the US. And now it is at a really interesting time of its evolution,” he said.

“They are in a prime position for further expansion into new markets and sectors that can accelerate change as well as expanding its offering to solve new market problems.”

Since moving on from Aconex, Phillpot has remained invested in the construction industry. He has held board positions with technology start-ups Versatile and Felix, while leading Gravel Road Ventures and the Gravel Road Foundation. He will continue in those roles.

“I am really looking forward to advising HammerTech. Growth brings unique challenges, and they evolve as a business grows over time, for example, hitting 100 employees marks a significant shift where you need mature operational processes and this can be a big transition for a scale-up to make without trusted advisors who’ve been there before and can help you burst through.

“When we were growing Aconex, we had help from many people and it’s now part of my mission to help the next wave of construction tech companies succeed.”

On expanding internationally, Phillpot said it’s not straightforward. “Australia is only a small percentage of the global construction industry. The US is one of the big opportunities, but it is a hard market to get into and requires nuance and discipline. HammerTech’s expansion success proves the team has what it takes and there is a lot more opportunity to build on that further with the leadership team.”

HammerTech was named one of nine potential unicorn (valuation of $1 billion) companies as part of LaunchVic’s 30X30 program, a government initiative that helps Victorian businesses build their operations to prepare for accelerated growth.

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