Team Players

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-By D. Barratt

Since 1991, Haslin Constructions has been producing formidable government infrastructure projects in Australia and enjoying measured yearly growth with an annual turnover of as much 90 million dollars.

Founded over twenty years ago by civil engineers Colin Woods and John Hastings, Haslin Constructions is guided by the deeply rooted belief in the “marriage of formidable technical expertise and a passion for producing projects of exemplary quality.” Colin Woods, Co-founder of the company and founding Director, looks toward building projects which exemplify the company ethos and inspire pride in its engineers, builders, and clients.

“Haslin Constructions is a company that operates in the government infrastructure sector, and builds all types of government infrastructure, from civil works to building works, such as bridges, station upgrades, sewage treatment plants and dams,” says Colin of the company’s scope, though as the company continues to grow, that scope is ever widening, with diversification into mining and other industries.

Colin is quick to acknowledge that it is through the building of a reputable community of contractors and tradespeople that Haslin has been able to enjoy the successes it has seen thus far. “The company was started by myself and John Hastings 21 years ago and we’ve built it into what it is today through measured growth over that time with the help of our specialist sub-contractors.”

Haslin’s Best Practice Certification has been a great boon to this growth, ensuring the company the ability to tender on government projects and assuring potential clients of the quality of the company’s designs and workmanship.

“It’s something that we specifically targeted because the NSW government has a best practice accreditation scheme where contractors have to meet certain requirements to be included on the tender list of projects,” says Colin. Often, when clients have a challenging project, they will go to the government’s best practice list to select tenderers for the job, guaranteeing a level of professionalism and experience that accredited builders bring to the project.

Some of the large scale jobs which Haslin has won include the Ballina Waste Water Treatment Plant, a 45 million dollar project which was won against some of Australia’s biggest players in the construction industry, and is one of the nation’s largest membrane plants.

“The way we approached this project,” says Colin, “was to develop a team of accredited contractors, who are leaders in their field, to price the specialist components. By including Aquatec Maxcon and Downer as part of the team we had a formidable team to offer the clients without compromising the competitiveness of a smaller contractor. As we had worked with our team members on numerous other projects we knew we could rely on each other to provide the required quality outcome. It resulted in a saving for the client of approximately four million dollars.”

The Eraring Earthfill Dam was a 60 million dollar project for which the company won the prestigious CCF Earth award, and to date is still the company’s largest completed project. The CCF Earth Award is presented to builders who showcase environmental awareness and sustainability in their construction practice.

“The industry is increasingly environmentally aware and designs take that into account. It’s factored into each job, whether it’s in the design you’re given, or a consideration and vigilance when projects are taking place in a sensitive area,” said Colin of the importance of sustainability in today’s market.

“Concurrently with Eraring we had also won the Clarence Valley project which was 40 million. Consequently we were constructing two major projects at once and were able to successfully execute both, which I think gave clients confidence that we could complete major projects simultaneously while maintaining a high quality of work.”

Haslin’s experienced team, and the relationships the company has built with contractors in the industry has allowed Haslin to win many complex projects and complete them on time with savings for its clients. “It’s important to us to have a workable relationship when we take on these projects because we have expertise in building them. We understand the works, but we appreciate the particular expertise of our specialist contractors from foundations to mechanical equipment to tie it all together.” These relationships are well cared for and maintained so that the company is able and ready to offer the high quality outcomes for which it has come to be known. “As much as they rely on us, we rely on them to get the project built for the client.”

Besides its strong industry relationships and partnerships, Haslin Constructions’ integrated management system is a valuable asset. The company’s system incorporates everything from how it reviews a project, to the quality of the project and how the team manages the environmental effects of the site.

“We train our staff in how to implement our systems and try to make our systems as user friendly as possible to ensure that everything is built safely and that the quality of our projects is a reflection of our management on-site and how we are building the project,” shares Colin.

At the time of tender, Haslin’s team will work through a review process in order to ensure that the design plans represent the highest quality and level of value for the customer, and will also review the design to ensure it is in the client’s best interest. If a better design is agreed upon, it will be presented to the client as an alternative, allowing them to determine if the proposed changes will lead to a higher quality product with long-term savings. “Often clients can get a price saving based on our alternative, or a better end product.”

Colin emphasises that this method of review and submitting alternative designs is a very important part of the tendering process. “I think it’s something that a lot of contractors look at when they look at a project today. The market is extremely competitive and everyone is looking for that edge in winning a contract. Most contractors will look at a design and see if they can improve on it, which may be the difference between winning and losing a project.”

Tight global markets have helped to create an extremely competitive industry in Australia, where clients are looking for the most value for their money and companies like Haslin must price accordingly and work as efficiently as possible to ensure profitability. “At this point in time, we’re winning projects and trying to improve our productivity on-site to make the projects more successful in order to build on the projects we have and line up more for the order book. The market’s tight, and we understand what the market says, so we price tight ourselves and make sure that our productivity on-site ensures projects are successful and allow us to continue our measured growth.”

When asked what the future holds for the company, Colin is excited to talk about planned growth within the company and movement into new industrial sectors, such as mining. His projection takes the company from a turnover of about 90 million dollars a year into the 150 million range in the medium term.

Planned expansion includes forays into building projects for the mining industry whose expected growth should create a great deal of work within the industry. “We will continue to focus on government infrastructure, but we’re also pricing mining projects and have staff with experience in the mining industry and would certainly like to move in that direction in the near future.”

And Colin emphasises the importance of having the correct team in place before moving into new territory. “What it means to us is we would grow slowly into it and ensure we have the right people, which is really a huge aspect of our success. We know you need to have the people in place to do the job before moving into that sector, and we do have those people in place now.”

Haslin Constructions’ focus on team building and having the right people for the job is evident in all that the company does and is one of its major points of differentiation among an ultra-competitive industry. “Building those jobs is a partnership and having the right subcontractors and the right suppliers is very important because you need to have that additional resource in order to succeed.”

It is the team that Colin has helped to build, along with the company’s integrated management system and attention to detail in creating the most cost effective and high quality product that keeps clients coming back and keeps Haslin building successful, significant projects year after year.

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January 27, 2021, 1:20 AM AEDT