Excellence in Construction

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-By Aleisha Parr

In response to the GFC, the Australian Federal Government has been investing billions of dollars through stimulus packages across a wide variety of sectors, including infrastructure, education and defence. Local construction and development companies have expanded to achieve these tenders, and have been rewarded with unique building opportunities and great financial compensation. However, in February of 2011 these government stimuli will come to a halt as we see the close of this period of expansion and development; unfortunately many companies will likely be unable to continue to support their growth. Some companies will be able to weather this period, maintaining relationships to continue receiving project tenders. Lahey Constructions is one such company, having consistently built on its capabilities and quality offerings for over 50 years in the commercial construction industry.

Specialising in governmental construction projects across NSW, Lahey enjoys a pre-existing solid core of ongoing government work, as well as projects garnered through the recent stimulus opportunities. Lahey’s Operations Manager, Michael Bohlscheid, reports: “We have good relationships in all the fields we work in the government and so I don’t necessarily see contraction in terms of business.” The company has been engaged in government projects since 2005 with the introduction of the Best Practice Scheme. Since that time, Lahey has consistently maintained the distinction of being a Department of Commerce Best Practice Contractor, the highest OHS distinction available in the Australian construction industry. To be eligible for Best Practice accreditation, Lahey was required to demonstrate a sound business structure, proven financial capability, appropriate resource levels, robust management systems and recent experience with a good performance history. Lahey has national accreditation certifications in Quality Assurance (AS 9001), OHS (AS4801) and Environment (AS 14001) Systems. “It’s a credit to the company to have maintained that accreditation for so long,” observes Mr Bohlscheid.

In keeping with its commitment to excellence, Lahey has undertaken to provide strict internal and external audit reviews (of both its multiple work sites as well as its own office headquarters) on a three month schedule to ensure its benchmarks are maintained. Additionally, Lahey has developed an internal wireless Integrated Management System, which regulates all company activities, policies and procedures. This system ensures that each Project Manager is able to effectively carry out job functions and activities according to the requirements set out across the board for all locations. This is of particular importance for Lahey, as it operates regionally-based offices out of Sydney, Brisbane and the North and Central Coasts of NSW. Having used the system for over three years now, Lahey is pleased with its efficiency and its enhancements to quality assurances.

In order to meet the varied demands of each of these diverse service locations, Lahey has amassed a significant mobile work force, which relocates from city to city as each project requires. To assist in these transitions, Lahey offers a comprehensive assortment of benefits and incentives, including rental accommodations, vehicles, fuel cards and living allowances. Explains Mr Bohlscheid: “We give incentives for people willing to move around, and they’re happy to make the move, which is great.” Not only does this arrangement assist Lahey in meeting the varied needs of its clients, but it also offers its employees a unique opportunity to travel and garner new work experiences in diverse regions and conditions.

The approach is well-received; the average length of engagement for Lahey’s work force is ten years; many stay on much longer. One Project Manager started work with the company when he was just fourteen years old and is still with Lahey now into his forties; several Site Managers have been with the company for over forty-five years.

So what is it that entices Lahey’s employees to stay? Says Mr Bohlscheid: “I think that there are a couple of things. For me, personally . . . the company is a professional, well-run company, but it’s in a regional area whereby you can live quite close to the beach, and quite close to work. That’s practically like a company that would normally operate out of Sydney, but is located rurally. Along with that, you get the same pay rates and benefits that you’d normally expect to earn in the city.”

While Lahey offers a full package of services across the construction industry, the cornerstone of its business is Project Management. As such, Lahey prefers to focus on the preparation of a comprehensive plan for each tender, taking numerous steps along the way to utilise both in-house and external designers and engineers. This diversity of expertise enhances the quality and ultimate viability of each plan, while also ensuring that standards are met. “The best made plans make for a better project,” says Mr Bohlscheid, “so we take a lot of time in the planning phase.” Additionally, Lahey takes on full responsibility for the viability of each project. “Clients appreciate that because then they don’t have to set aside massive amounts of money for contingency, which they might ordinarily need to meet that project.” This value-added service is a unique offering and demonstrates Lahey’s faith in its own planning diligence.

Currently, Lahey is engaged in a multi-phase project at Grafton Base Hospital, where work is underway with the construction of new buildings as well as refurbishments for some pre-existing spaces. The first phase involves developing a pre-existing wing into a new emergency unit, with a few days of transition after its completion before work begins on the old emergency unit to transform it into a new department. This is a difficult process, requiring strict adherence to sound and dust pollution controls as well as extreme safety considerations, as construction is being carried out while the hospital is still in use. Thanks to its strong emphasis on pre-planning, Lahey has been able to meet this challenge with grace and professionalism – standards for this long-time leader in commercial construction.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

June 1, 2020, 4:52 AM AEST