EnI Electrical, part of the Zest WEG Group, is not only on a drive to change the electrical contracting industry, but also the larger South African construction landscape.
Its strategy is working considering that the electrical contractor enjoyed a record revenue year in 2015, while recording 404% growth rates since 2010. Importantly, as much as 60% of the company’s projects last year comprised repeat customers, but this has come from approaching the construction environment differently.
“One of our success stories is that we are always invited back by our customers. This tells an important story, especially in construction,” says Trevor Naude, managing director of EnI Electrical. “In our industry, it also sends a very clear message to us and the market that we are definitely doing something correct.”
He says that a major competitive edge for the company is its ability to understand its customers and their unique project requirements.
“We are not just supplying a product that meets a unique specification. As contractors, we are delivering something exclusive. If we do not understand their needs, it is going to cost us money,” says Naude.
As he points out, relationships start at boardroom level and they are reinforced by delivery of what was promised by the company’s top management. It is for this reason that the management team participates in the closeout of projects.
Transparency is also key for Naude, who is extremely concerned by contractors’ known exploitation of scope changes in projects to their own benefit. “It is a tumour in the entire construction industry, and therefore a practice we have shunned.
We refuse to indulge in this and are on a concerted drive to change this practice through the way we approach our contracts from bidding through to completion of the works,” he says.
As part of the company’s drive to ‘transform the culture of the local contracting fraternity’ even at the operational level, significant time and effort is spent by EnI Electrical in developing its well-known ‘A-teams’ that are headed by impeccable leaders.
“Any team is indicative of the size of the project, but it is our leadership that is a significant differentiator on a construction site. They are not merely technically competent, as this is a given for any construction team, our leaders understand the business of construction and are effective in multiple areas, which is exactly what is needed to complete projects successfully,” explains Naude.
Last year, these teams helped build a uranium mine in Namibia, a new gold mine in Ghana and a platinum mine project in Rustenburg, as well as being involved in a Coca-Cola factory expansion programme in Dar es Salaam.
The company’s policy of open and transparent communication with its customers has also been adopted internally. In-house conferences are held once a year where on-site experiences are shared internally to improve performances on contracts and, just as importantly, to break conventional construction mindsets.
“We unpack what has made us so successful and do not shy away from understanding and sharing between us what has not worked to our benefit, and how we could improve in these areas,” says Naude.
Management has spent significant time developing a large-company mindset to ensure EnI Electrical successfully secures and completes large projects. However, Naude notes that EnI Electrical has still preserved the benefits that come with a small business.
This ‘small business memory’ includes EnI Electrical’s agility and therefore, ability to react quickly to market demands. This approach to business has been welcomed in a market that is rapidly changing and demanding more from contractors.
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