Dave Klees

Quality, Experience, Character.

Dave Klees is the other half of Virtue Projects.

There is a lot more to Dave than being the founder of a growing building company making the architectural dreams of many a living, breathing reality. He surfs, sails, trains, and knows how to live well and enjoy a good life. He loves what he does for work and play.

During a surf trip to the Mentawais in 2012

Building is what he does best.

It’s the only job I’ve ever had

Since the age of 16 Dave has been ‘swinging the hammer’ for other builders, but most often for himself and his own business.

He started out as an apprentice with Adorn Homes in the Sutherland Shire, working solely on top-storey additions with a crew of about 20 carpenters. During this time he was under the tutelage of Leading Hand/Foreman Rod Turnbull and Ronnie Schultz, and he learnt much from these two builders in particular.

It was so flat-out when I worked for Adorn Homes… it seemed like everyone in Cronulla wanted a second-storey addition at the time… it was good to work in such an intense and busy environment though… it probably prepared me for the work Virtue Projects does now across Sydney

As a 3rd year apprentice Dave even built his family holiday home in the South Coast hamlet of Bendalong, applying early on his skills acquired, and using a bunch of friends and family as labourers and would-be tradies.

Nervous much mother?!

It was awesome to build the Bendalong House with all my friends and family… I mean, it’s not that different from a normal job site really. Everyone are mates on a job site… but that was pretty cool. The house turned out really well too, and so many of my friends have been able to enjoy it over the years

The apprentice running the job

The ‘Bendy House’ holds a dear place in many a Sutherland Shire surfer’s heart, and it has done for well over a decade now. The waves nearby are great in a variety of wind directions, and it is one of the rare places in Australia where the myths of Australian life (kangaroos bouncing down the road and koalas high up in gum trees) are in fact realities.

The ‘Bendy House’ today.

Dave hasn’t built his best homes only for himself and his family though, he has done it for Australian celebrities too. In particular, Australian stage and screen royalty Brendan Cowell (from ‘Love My Way’; the soon to be released Peter Brock biopic; and director of ‘Ruben Guthrie’).

Brendan’s Newtown terrace was renovated a number of years ago, and it is still to this day one of the most challenging, creative and ultimately rewarding jobs that Dave and Virtue Projects has ever worked on.

Brendan’s house was such a challenge for us, but the result was amazing in the end… it is probably the coolest place I have built and working with Brendan was always a good time

Brendan Cowell is a national treasure who Dave still keeps in touch with, even having a bunch of us over recently to enjoy some Bavarian beers and guacamole for a feature story coming soon about his amazing place.

The man’s a legend. Stay tuned…

Speaking about the success and growth of Virtue Projects, Dave is philosophical:
“You just gotta find your niche and be decent people really. Because we are good chippies ourselves (because Mick and I have learnt from the best of them), we know what good chippies look like, and when we get a brief from an architect and client, we know how to make it happen with our growing crew..

Other labour hire companies might do a bunch of other trades or services to the construction industry, and deliver ‘ok’ workers, but we focus on chippies because that is what Mick and I know best

We hand pick our carpenters and then we place them on the jobs that best suit their strengths

Virtue Projects are in demand with architects and they put this down to the ease at which they work and collaborate when the build is in process. They also put this down to the quality of their team of loyal and hard working chippies.

A lot of our chippies are from the South and North Coast. They have all had a broad apprenticeship and they can jump onto any site and work well. This is important with the diversity of projects we are taking on right now… we have to have guys who are flexible and have a broad set of skills and experiences.

So what does the future look like for Virtue Projects?

We are in the process of refining our systems so that we can better serve our customers, and also finding new ways to connect with quality chippies online, in particular through the ConX platform

Running a business is different from being onsite, and the transition from swinging the hammer to doing the day-to-day of running a business has been hard on Dave:

It was quite hard to let go as we grew our business. But now that we have trained our guys and got them to the standard that we are happy with, we are now in a position to grow more. Basically we trust that they will deliver quality to our clients that is consistent and of a high standard

At the moment Virtue Projects is a team of about 12 carpenters who are more than colleagues; they are friends, even family. Dave wants to grow the family even more:

I reckon that next year we should be up to 16–18 guys on our team. That would be pretty sweet, doing some solid residential builds that challenge us… of course keeping our clients stoked with the finishes too.