Namibia's one stop shop for project consultancy
In an industry that demands perfection, Lithon Project Consultants is striving to become the preferred company of choice in this ever-competitive field
Writer Matt Bone
Project manager James Mitchell
Lithon Project Consultants are an established and highly sought after engineering firm that provide project management, multi-disciplinary consulting engineering and mining services to their clients. they have a highly skilled and qualified professional team of more than 65 people that serve clients from 4 offices in Namibia and 2 offices in South Africa. Directors Jan Fourie and Frikkie Holtzhausen, describe the company as a "one stop shop" for engineering and mining projects: "We offer a fully multi-disciplinary project management service that enables us to have all our clients' bases covered. The client can then be assured that everything to do with their project is dealt with by the same team and that team can be reached at any time."
Lithon aim to provide their clients and the communities with whom they work across Africa with excellent professional engineering service. Lithon are not just focusing on one type of engineering but they work on all types of projects, from the concept planning stages through to completion, with a highly skilled professional team supported by state of the art office equipment and software.
The majority of companies see their profit year on year as a good indicator of business growth and sustainability. Fourie explains how the growth of Lithon has been such that they no longer look at profit as their marker: "In 2011 our revenue was 17miilion Namibian Dollars (NAD) and in the current fiscal year we have reached 45 million NAD. This growth has been substantial for us but we do not use it as a marker of how successful we are. That is shown by the number of key repeat business clients we have."
"These key business clients that we continue to work with at Lithon have come back each year and given us bigger contracts than the previous ones. It is a sort of stepping stone up to the next level every time we complete a project on time and to the quality requirements expected by the client," explains Holtzhausen, who has more than 20 years experience in the industry.
Lithon pride themselves on their capacity for not only quality building, transferring of knowledge and sustainable development; they also want to provide employees with afulfilling work experience and an opportunity to grow professionally. "I strongly believe that Lithon's biggest asset are our people and our strong teamwork as we are guided by our unifying corporate principles of Love, Integrity, Trust, Honesty, Obedience and Nobility (LITHON)," remarks Fourie.
Expertise and Professionalism
Lithon Project Consultants aim to provide training programmes to assist in establishing and investing in young engineering professionals in the industry. Holtzhausen cites: "Our staff must be more than simply technically qualified to do their job. We are encouraging our staff to develop a wide range of skills and this will remain a key focus for Lithon Project Consultants." It is this strong emphasis on training their professionals in house that has pushed Lithon to the forefront of the industry. It offers workers the chance to become even better in their roles through carefully planned and taught training.
The company have built up a pool of excellent specialists with diverse experience who will be able to meet all of their client's needs. Lithon Project Consultants have access to further expertise and specialist services through associations with local and international companies on a project related basis, enabling them to undertake any major multi-disciplinary engineering or mining project.
The engineering industry has seen a rollercoaster rise in the last 3 years in Africa. With the nationalisation of the mining industry and the stagnation of the market, Lithon have seen little progress in the mining sector, but are confident that they are turning a corner in terms of profitability. "We have seen a downturn in the expansion of certain areas in the mining industry in Africa. With Nationalisation of mines and the drive towards decreasing operational costs, planned expansion projects have been put on hold in many cases," explains Fourie. However, as mentioned, Lithon feel that the industry is beginning to turn a corner now. Fourie is confident that the next 12 months will show an upwards trend in the mining sector: "there is a positive feeling coming out of the mining companies and engineering companies who work in that sector. The Government has made more money available for mining and infrastructure projects in Namibia."
Supply and Demand
As with all businesses, a good supply chain is a paramount asset. However, Lithon do not just choose to use the same supply chain time after time: "We always make sure that the first thing we do is meet the client's needs in terms of supplies. We look to our local markets and suppliers first, but if the client needs specialist equipment or something that is not available, then we look at international suppliers and service providers to compliment the client requirements. India and China have supplied our projects with equipment, and materials at a competitive cost and to the required quality. To exceed our clients' requirements is our main priority. Without clients, we don't have a business."
With this demand for high quality project management, Lithon have begun to expand into the surrounding countries, especially in South Africa, where as previously mentioned, they have opened up two new offices. Fourie says that this expansion will be of long term benefit for both professionals and the company: "we have seen a skills shortage in this industry as most of the highly qualified professionals end up going to South Africa or abroad to Europe and America. the primary drive behind opening offices in South Africa was so that highly qualified project managers and engineers abroad could also be a part of the family which we are building here at Lithon."
The Future of Lithon
With the expansion of Lithon at the forefront of future plans, Fourie explains that they are currently working on three long term plans in North Namibia which will see them into 2016: "we are currently working on an industrial project in the North of the country and two agricultural Green Scheme Projects near Rundu. the agricultural projects encompass all aspects from surveying, bush clearing to irrigation and pivot layouts and river/booster pump stations, to help facilitate the client's needs. We are very proud to be offering an integrated service that will, in total, have seen us work closely with the client for 3 years."
Holtzhausen adds: "we always ensure our clients are fully aware that we will be working alongside them and consulting them from beginning to end of all projects we undertake. We want to become the preferred consultant for Namibian clients at first and then who knows, maybe in Sub-Saharan Africa in the future."
2014 will be a big year for Lithon, with bigger projects becoming the normalcy and more key clients giving them repeat business, due to the high quality of their work and the integrated project management services they offer. Fourie and Holtzhausen are confident they will not only meet but exceed their clients' requirements: "We are both confident that what Lithon offer is exactly what the client needs; quality, professionalism and a service that is all encompassing and always with the client's needs at the heart of what we do."