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YellowTree rooted in office design

YellowTree GM Bernie Durkin
YellowTree GM Bernie Durkin in his office. The former British Army ‘drill sergeant’ says his management style in’t draconian but demands absolute commitment to fulfilling his standards. Kali Kotoski

YellowTree rooted in office design

As the property sector in Phnom Penh continues to modernize with gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels and high-rise condominiums that are continually popping up at a frantic pace, along with the swift growth of the high-end market for interior design came the need for new trends, ideas, and reliable quality service.

Established in 2002, YellowTree Interiors has spent over a decade growing and adapting to meet the needs and wants of the capital’s increasingly robust and competitive property sector.

YellowTree has evolved into a team of trained professionals capable of providing everything from custom furniture to full-scale commercial renovations. With a team of designers, project coordinators, suppliers, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as carefully vetted subcontractors that are some of the best carpenters and drywallers in Phnom Penh, YellowTree begins from the ground up and meets the delivery deadlines, said General Manager Bernie Durkin. With a sophisticated set of skills to meet their clients’ requests, YellowTree specializes in creating durable and efficient office spaces for the growing influx of international companies coming into Phnom Penh to do business.

YellowTree’s office solutions are meant to be durable and real a long-term investment
YellowTree’s office solutions are meant to be durable and real a long-term investment. Photo Supplied

YellowTree’s clients include Qatar Airways, Coca-Cola, KPMG, FTB Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Vattanac Properties, H&M, KFC and Marks & Spencer—just to name a few.

Arriving at the company in 2013, Durkin has coordinated a calculated shift from small-end projects to gradually larger and larger projects for the emerging up-scale clientele.

“When I first came in we were doing about 20 small scale projects a year. But as we started to gain bigger clients, we moved towards bigger projects,” he said.

Despite an increase in competition, Durkin sees little to worry about as the company has garnered a reputation for impeccable service and the meticulous attention to detail.

“In all honesty, compared to when YellowTree started, there were only a few other interior design companies operating. Now there at least a hundred, but we only view three or four of them as real players,” he said.

As international companies enter into Cambodia thinking they can capitalize on the abundance of cheap labour, Durkin often has to impress upon his clients that quality and experience remains paramount.

“With the quality of our services, we sell a long-term investment to our customers. I often go into our projects, see something that is not up to my standards that would be overlooked by our customers, and make sure it is finished correctly,” said Durkin.

There are 100 interior design companies in Phnom Penh. YellowTree sees only four as real players
There are 100 interior design companies in Phnom Penh. YellowTree sees only four as real players. Photo Supplied

With the dedication that comes with twenty years of military service in the British Army where he trained soldiers, Durkin is quick to point out that he doesn’t have a draconian management technique, although he expects an unparalleled commitment from his team.

“We hire young people that have a willingness to learn. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, if you have the right attitude and the desire to work, you can be taught anything,” he said.

Durkin remarked about how when he first visited Phnom Penh in 2000, he remembered only seeing a few paved roads, and how astonishing it is to see the changes over the last 15 years.

“You can see the things that people have done in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, and, in 20 to 30 years, there is no reason why Phnom Penh could not be at a similar level,” he said.

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