In BNI, referrals can come in all sorts of guises. Sometimes there are those that just fall into your lap, and there are others where an extraordinary effort has been put in to secure perhaps the perfect referral.

Priya Marie Robert, Executive Coach from BNI Advantage, is undoubtedly Adelaide’s queen of connections. So it’s no surprise she should find fellow BNI Advantage member Ray O’Connor from Premier Building Solutions (PBS) his ideal referral.

That referral came about when Priya was mentoring former BNI member Doug Phillips from Hallmark Commercial through her Government sponsored program. Doug was discussing his career direction and how commercial renovations were the next logical step for his business. In fact, he had secured a gig as a Building, Project, and Maintenance Manager for Wallis Cinemas and was lamenting the lack of professional, small-to-medium builders.

Around this time, Ray joined BNI Advantage, and Priya made the effort to understand Ray and his ideal referral. She also got to know the PBS staff and the way they operate and even attended a couple of PBS staff functions to better understand their team culture.

It was an introduction that was meant to be.

Priya organised a lunch with the three of them. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it, but Doug and Ray hit it off, and they began to work on a few minor jobs together.

The big opportunity came when Doug asked Ray if he would be interested in a major refurbishment project for the iconic Piccadilly Cinema in North Adelaide. After an emphatic ‘Hell, yes!’ an introduction to the directors and management team at Wallis was arranged, and the ball started rolling from there

“I built credibility and a relationship with the Wallis group and the board of directors, and it just grew from there. We went through the concept design phase and, once they were happy, gave them a budget to look at and consider. We then commenced construction in June/July this year,” Ray explains.

The Piccadilly Cinema refurbishment project is one of those dream jobs where reputations are made, kudos received, and further opportunities presented. Ray and his professional PBS team have gone above and beyond to create a stunning project which reflects the early twentieth-century Art Deco period and the golden age of cinema.

The project’s scope and complexity meant that Ray enlisted the services of IA Design, a leading national design and architectural consultancy. Additionally, Ray, as project manager, has utilised many BNI members to help bring the project to life.

“I was able to set up an office and run the business out of here as well as run the job. On any given day at the height of construction, we probably would’ve had 25-30 people on site daily.”

“We’ve had 15-20 subcontractors and suppliers involved in the job, including painters, electricians, wallpaper installers, joinery, flooring, plumbing, electrical, tiling and all those associated suppliers. So there’s certainly a lot of work that’s come from the project back into the broader community.”

“And especially the BNI community,” Ray said.

Every stage of the project has also been photographed and filmed, culminating in a documentary produced by BNI Advantage’s Peta Shannon and the Scarlett Media team.

“I wanted to capture some of what I do on film. So, myself, Peta and (Peta’s husband) Matt sat down in January this year. I told them what I wanted, and then we had an epiphany, all three of us, and we said, “Well, why don’t we make a documentary?” We put it to Wallis, and they contributed almost a third of the cost for the documentary. Peta and Matt have been here from day one since we started tearing everything apart,” Ray said.

There are many other contributors to the project’s success, including BNI Advantage’s Andy Alhaiery from Xel Graphix, who was responsible for the beautiful interior and exterior signage.

Right throughout the newly revamped cinema there are touches of beauty. While far too many to expand upon here, a highlight for Ray and his team was uncovering an original mural from 1940 that will be restored over the coming months. There are also many other hand-crafted, bespoke features that all go to creating an authentic Art Deco cinema experience.

In the end, Ray is proud that the Givers Gain philosophy has not only given him the opportunity of realising a dream referral, but he’s been able to give back to those who have supported him.

“I’ve loved being able to give back to the community. I gave opportunities to a lot of people. Unfortunately, pricing and complexity of the job meant that some said they couldn’t do it. But at the end of the day, the opportunity was there. I can keep reaching out to all those BNI members, whether in our chapter or not, for pricing and opportunities to continue and to keep working with us.”

“The great thing with what I do is I can keep returning to that community and saying, Hey, here’s another opportunity,” Ray said.

The gala launch event of the refurbished Piccadilly Cinema was held on December 9 and opened to the public on December 15.

For Priya, attending the launch was a magical moment after a referral some 18 months beforehand.

“I have enormous pride in seeing what Ray and his team have done. An iconic cinema and iconic SA businesses working together to produce something truly beautiful. It’s been one of the best connections I’ve ever made.”