Sustainable Growth Pays Dividends
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
For more than 30 years, Murray & Dickson Construction (M&D) has been expanding and diversifying its offering across an ever-widening geographic footprint, but has more understated internal successes to thank over the past 23 months as the Company continued to grow despite a general market slowdown.
The 50 percent black-owned civil engineering specialist has long been renowned and showcased as a flexible Company willing to adapt its processes and service offering in line with consumer trends, but the ability to mould itself once again when trends and demand remain largely dormant are a whole new testament to the business’s innovative approach and past diversifications.
“Our core services remain building construction, civil engineering and large diameter steel pipelines, but the Group has recently embarked on developing its offering in roads and earthworks and has won tenders in the oil and gas pipeline industry,” noted Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rukesh Raghubir in 2015.
To complement this diversification, the Company was also enjoying a footprint expansion this time last year, replicating its quality building division operations from Gauteng to the Northern Cape and Limpopo also. Even in areas where engineering works are not currently being undertaken by the Company, M&D still tendered actively in these remaining provinces, ensuring its nationwide influence.
Moving into 2016, though, and there is new reason for optimism following an intervening quiet spell. Already being rewarded with a R500 million design and build project in the country, Murray & Dickson is now looking forward to a busier spell which will witness an expansion of a recent portfolio that already comprises the Fairview Project and the Lenmed Kimberley Hospital.
Any such future successes will compound a history which has already seen Murray & Dickson expand above the industry average more years than not; capitalising on, and even surpassing, the generally lucrative increase in construction activity being seen across the region in the years prior to 2015.
The Company’s target two years ago, however was to not only build turnover and profitability, but to also embed a stronger core of sustainability within the business to promote even more future growth.
This strategy has reaped dividends for the medium-sized construction company who has also leveraged its key differentiator in recent years of producing a diverse offering of services in excess of some of its larger competitors in the market.
“This allows us to respond to our clients’ needs no matter what construction discipline they fall under,” explained Raghubir. “Each division within the Company is run independently of the others, with its own skills-set. This results in focused teams delivering on the various services. It also maintains the close-nit fabric that is characteristic of smaller companies.”
The building of strong, focused teams fits within a much wider strategy of internal progression epitomised by the Company’s personnel philosophies and capital investment ethos.
A recent office space increase to accommodate a larger workforce addressed the logistical side of this, while also instilling improved professionalism and niche skills to cater for future demand.
Prime position to strengthen
At senior level, Murray & Dickson has made key appointments in areas of quantity surveying, civil and mechanical engineering, and safety and quality management to add vital skills to the general expansion drive.
“We have, in addition, set up an HR department to ensure that the needs of our increased staff are adequately addressed,” noted Raghubir.
This all falls under the business’s new core motto, ‘Khula Nathi’, meaning ‘Grow with Us’; ensuring that there is a family feel within the Company conducive not only to developing its staff – which has always been a pivotal aspect of the Company’s business model – but also in regards to cementing suitable and sustainable business partnerships in the process.
Raghubir continued: “All of our contracts in outlying areas require the employment and development of local personnel. This can be challenging as the skills are often not present and we, therefore, have a skills training programme on the project if it is of sufficient duration.
“It also makes sense to develop strong ties with sub-contractors and clients so we have made great strides in developing relationships with some of the larger water authorities as well as the universities.”
In more recent months, such affiliations have resulted in more than 600 staff being enrolled into the Company’s own enterprise development programme, once again emphasising Murray & Dickson’s ability to plan according to today’s successes, but also to tomorrow’s potential challenges.
Raghubir affirmed: “The Company is now in a prime position to strengthen its market share even further in the future.
“We remain positive about the future but have to be aware of the economic and political headwinds facing the country, which are capable of very quickly eradicating any improvement seen over the past couple of years.
“We believe, however, that our diverse skills and services will insulate us from such an outcome.”