Very particular about proportion in all her work, Cathy draws inspiration from nature and appreciates the timeless beauty, shapes and strength of natural materials.
While Cathy’s unique style and attention to detail and quality have earned her a long and impressive list of clients and projects along the Eastern Seaboard even a few overseas), her business has not been immune to challenges.
When the GFC hit, many developers on the Central Coast were hit hard, creating a domino effect to associated industries.
“It was a very difficult time,” said Cathy. “We had some huge bad debts as developers were literally going broke around us. So, we had no choice but to downsize the team to seven and bring the staff home so we didn’t have to pay rent. We just consolidated and soldiered on.”
Once they had recovered, Slater Architects moved to an office in Erina before relocating to their current premises, which they purchased from John Stevens (The Stevens Group) ten years ago.
Today, Cathy employs two architects, each with their own specialty areas, an internal accountant and contex tual drafts people.
Including Bill, the team now stands at a “nice even ten”, a figure Cathy is comfortable with.
“Having a team this size with specialised skills allows us to offer a full service. It also allows me to deal directly with every owner and provide that personal touch that our clients appreciate and I enjoy,” said Cathy who still begins the design process for every client on paper.
Cathy credits her team as one of the keys to her success and looks after them like family.
Lyndell, one of her architects, who has been with her since 2005 is one of two staff who work from home two days a week to balance work with parenting young children.
Cathy treats her team to lunch (often home cooked) every Friday. The result of her efforts and care is a dedicated, hardworking team.
Cathy has also been very strategic in selecting staff who bring a broad range of skills to the table, from architecture, interior design, town planning and CAD, to environmental science, graphic design and carpentry.
Builders and clients appreciate this well-rounded approach, as it means Slater Architects is essentially a one-stop service.
Builders and architects ‘speak the same language’ reducing time and money due to miscommunication and clients take comfort in the knowledge that every aspect of their project, from the design to the custom joinery and colour selection, will be professionally managed by the one team.
“I believe it’s important to take control. It allows me to visualise the final result and manage the steps to get there in the best interest of my clients,” said Cathy.
Cathy and Bill are passionate rugby fans (Bill’s grandfather played for Australia). Cathy donated her time to design Terrigal Trojans Rugby clubhouse at The Haven and is now the club’s patron.
With John Stevens of the Stevens Group the driving force behind the construction of the venue and many other rugby fans sharing the building Slater Architects occupy, the ongoing management of the club is in good hands.
Indeed, close collaboration with other Central Coast construction-related companies is another contributing factor to the success of Slater Architects.
It’s not always easy working with your partner but Cathy and Bill have made it look effortless.
They make a good team. Bill summed it up well when he said, “Catherine is the design genius behind the business. She started the whole thing and I’m just one of the soldiers. She’s also a fantastic wife and my best mate”.
Cathy has come a long way since the days when she had to ignore male dominance on construction sites.