One of the MLC Centre’s longest-serving tenants always knew where he wanted his boutique financial services business to be based.
“When I first came to Australia, I looked at this building and said, ‘If I’m ever going to open a business this is the building it’s got to be in’,” says Barry Mendel, whose business has been in the building since March 1981.
“It was situated in the heart of Sydney. It was probably at the heart of the business district of Australia. It had a station near it, it had transport around it and it had shops below it.”
“It was actually a no brainer to be in this building,’’ says Mendel who started his business in a windowless serviced office “the size of a bathroom” with two filing cabinets and a poster of Hawaii.
He says the Harry Seidler-designed MLC Centre at the time was one of the only premium office buildings available in Sydney.
“For the type of clientele we wanted, we had to be here in the best building in the city,” says Mendel. “The strength of the building benefits us and I think we benefit the building.”
Mendel’s partner Barry Frank joined the business in 1982, which was named Barry Mendel Frank Group. After four years, BMF moved an office with a window and after 13 years leasing serviced office space from Servcorp, their business moved into its own offices in the mid-1990s on Level 53.
“As we grown we’ve taken more space. The tenant next to us moved out and we took over his fit-out and expanded there and the next tenant moved we took them out. Over the last 20 years we’ve now taken over the whole floor,’’ says Frank.
BMF’s only remaining neighbour on the floor is the office of former Prime Minister John Howard.
“We are very proud to be here and we’re very proud to bring people into the office because it’s such as nice building.
“We are able to basically always attach our name to it and people can relate our business to the MLC Centre,’’ says Mendel, whose firm now employs more than 50 staff.
“You don’t have to describe the address of the MLC Centre, you just say MLC Centre. Everybody knows where it is. That branding you can’t buy,” he says.
After more than three decades, Mendel and Frank have not lost any of their passion for the building. “This is where we live. I’ll never forget when we were fitting out our office 20 years ago, the carpenter said to me, ‘This view is too beautiful to work at. You should live here’,” says Frank.
“I said, ‘You should actually understand we live here for 12 hours or more a day and we only sleep at home’.”
Even when not in the office, Frank often admires the MLC Centre from afar. “Wherever I go, whether it’s on the harbour, at the art gallery, the cinema, whether it’s in the eastern suburbs or even out west, wherever you go you can always see the MLC Centre,’’ he says.
“It always makes me feel proud to be able to see it from anywhere.”
The recent refurbishment of the GPT Group and QIC co-owned building, which includes a new food court, upgraded offices and soon to open end-of-trip bicycle facilities, only boosts the building’s appeal for BMF.
“Even for the next generation in our firm, they can see this as a building they can stay in as long as they want to work with us. We just signed a ten year lease, which will be our third ten year lease,” says Frank.
“We look forward to being here for many years to come.”