Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Tom Cullum
Combined services, measurable differences and client satisfaction are the three pillars on which EQUATE has built its hugely successful brand over the years and the independent African property and construction consultancy Company is hoping to leverage these core foundations to achieve even more concerted success in the future.
Renowned for saving clients both time and money via its managed solutions across infrastructure, property and construction domains, the business’s dedicated teams and various offices take responsibility for the successful delivery of their projects, from start to finish.
“We have a full understanding of various types of infrastructure, buildings and associated facilities; an appreciation of value drivers specific to each sector including stakeholder needs; experience of collaborative working with innovative designers and challenging projects; a comprehensive database of relevant cost information for cost planning and cost management; and a cost benefit analysis service designed to drive optimum sustainability issues and their contribution to long-term strategies,” details Company Director, Neels van Niekerk. “A key part of our philosophy is to ensure that we, and other team members, are fully aware of our clients’ project and business objectives, and how these combine to define value for money for them. We are value driven, rather than simply cost driven.”
Providing independent, trusted and impartial advice, EQUATE proactively manages costs from inception to completion to ensure best value at all times, subsequently developing an in-depth understanding of each client’s requirements and business goals to “become their champion” and “empower their business decisions with our depth of construction knowledge”, van Niekerk adds.
Covering aspects of project feasibility, cost planning, cash flow forecasting, value engineering, procurement, tenders, contracts, account settlements, insurance valuations and project appraisals – to name a few – the resultant turnkey portfolio has made it a natural go-to proposition for clients not only in its native South Africa, but also in neighbouring Botswana and beyond.
Van Niekerk continues: “With our ‘boutique’-focused service offering, we believe that we have differentiated ourselves from our competitors, with a guarantee of active multiple director involvement.
“Our primary focus now is the development of the African continent, having already done a lot of work in other African countries including Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Senegal; and even as far as South America (Paraguay) and Asia (Nepal) in the past.
“We are currently exploring opening offices in Mozambique, Cape Town and some other West African countries, and envisage that this will become a reality in the next two to three years.”
Complete solution to clients
By boasting the complete array of services in house and considering each opportunity on its own merits, EQUATE retains an unparalleled flexibility in its approach; consequently tailoring each project around the bespoke needs of the relative client, project scope and geographical challenges.
This might seem like a remit borne from years of evolution but is actually testament to the principles on which the business was originally built, when founded by three professional quantity surveyors looking to provide a better standard of construction consultancy from both its headquarters in Gauteng, and South Africa at large.
“Through changing times and ever-changing requests from clients for tailor-made services to suit their specific needs, we had to adapt from traditional quantity surveying and cost management services to a far more integrated financial advisory role throughout the entire process,” van Niekerk recalls. “We have added services to our offering to be able to provide a complete solution to clients and give them the security they require to trust that their project finances are well looked after.
“These services include development monitoring, distressed projects, dispute Management, forensic audit reviews, risk management, and sustainability with all of our directors certified as green building consultants and registered with the GBCSA (Green Building Council of South Africa).”
Such innovation and willingness to modify its offering in line with market and customer demands is even more admirable when analysing the wider industry, which is often chastised for lagging behind more modern technological advances in particular.
EQUATE has bucked the trend by working closely with the tech elite and progressive partners to change this sector image, while also enabling the business to gather first-hand information on key industry trends and forecasts to the benefit of its clients.
Best service the market has to offer
New software packages to help integrate old and new systems is testament to this ethos of staying ahead of the industry curve, and EQUATE is also looking into the model of crowdfunding for projects as one of many avenues to advance the market across the continent.
The likes of Carlson Rezidor and its Radisson Blu hotel brand, Hilton, AAGCO, NERSA, and MTN have all capitalised on this dedication to continuous improvement in partnering with EQUATE; emphasising the kinds of high profile contracts attained as a consequence of its reputation in the industry. And with no geographical limit in terms of where its model would work moving forward, the business can focus on consolidating its market-leading position on a wider scale, safe in the knowledge that its often global clientele would be happy to embrace the Company in each new location.
Above all of this though, van Niekerk would attribute EQUATE’s main assets to a facet far closer to home.
He explains: “As a consultancy, our employees are our most valued assets. We believe in the development of skills and the upliftment of communities in Africa. Through our in-country African associates we promote transfer of skills and exposure to world-class delivery of projects with our international corporate clients and pioneering local developers.”
A three-armed process of identifying, building and training, and engaging employees ensures the successful progression of each individual with internal promotion and long-term sustainability in mind; once again aiding both internal structures and the wider industry.
“By engaging at these levels we cultivate our young leaders throughout their lives, through education and beyond, with leadership mentoring and by connecting them to high-impact networks of people, businesses and capital,” van Niekerk affirms. “In all of our business processes and procedures we consider our impact on our staff, our clients and the communities in which we live and work and we aim to set standards for others to follow.”
Addressing this philosophy through concerted corporate social responsibility and B-BBEE adherence, EQUATE is resultantly recognised as an employer of choice, supplier of choice, and upstanding member of the South African community; forming an ideal platform to build its equally successful business actions to flourish and adapt to new market fluctuations in the future.
“We’ve seen a fair bit of interest in the hotel and leisure industry across Africa while the interest in low to middle income residential developments has also increased in recent times due to the ever-increasing demand for housing and urbanisation across Africa. We have also experienced a fair bit of interest in the data centre industry across the globe, with many African countries upgrading and expanding on their outdated and under-designed data centres and network infrastructures,” van Niekerk predicts for the coming months and years. “Our overall aim is to maintain the personal relationships we have with clients and other consultants in the industry, always striving to promptly deliver accurate advice and flawless service delivery.
“We would like to build on the exponential growth we had since the start of the business, over the next five years, and would like to stay at the edge of technological advances, be conscious of our competition, build on our knowledge in the African market, and deliver the best service the market has to offer to new and existing clients across the African continent.”