Turnkey Civil Projects

Curnow Group

Curnow Group manages and runs a wide range of new or low-houred plant with the help of a sound base of professional staff including project managers, engineers, designers, surveyors, supervisors, operators and experienced field personnel. Such a depth of experience enables the company to undertake a wide range of works within the civil, mining and landscape industries. Curnow Group’s core management team is made up from selected professionals from within the civil and mining industries and different disciplines.

Formed in 2009, Curnow Group has been enjoying rapid growth. For 2012, turnover was up over the previous year by more than half and according to General Manager Louie Hancock, this year is expected to again see a substantial rise in business. Given the national economic situation, one might expect a year of consolidation rather than more growth, but, he says, “we are looking at some strategic projects right now and the growth spurt to cater for them would make growth so far quite insignificant.”

One of these potential works is a resource project up in the northwest that would be valued at some $30 to 40 million, but Louie estimates a forward order book of some $20 million anyway. “So that immediately would double our turnover. Potentially our growth could just keep on going exponentially over the next 12 to 18 months.”

But this is WA, you might say. Surely there is so much resource-sector work around that a company could hardly fail to grow? Louie qualifies that sentiment. “People talk about the volume of work and not having enough companies to do it, but that’s not quite correct. What it should be is that there are not enough skilled workers to cover it.” He says it is therefore vital for companies like Curnow Group to position themselves strategically to look for projects which are within their current capacity, “and to which we can grow to and sustain the longer term rather than just the short term. We will never grow in a way we cannot sustain long term.”

The ‘group’ in Curnow Group really refers to the group of people that has assembled under the company’s brand. The group’s areas of expertise include commercial site development, industrial sites, housing tracts and residential envelopes, schools, and public works projects, from a simple grading or site utility job to a complex turnkey site development project involving multiple owners, agencies and utility companies.

To encourage future growth, management realised that the delivery of high quality performance was essential, so, Louie explains, “we hired good people and invested in our employees by giving them the training and experience they needed to help us achieve our objectives. We then invested in good equipment and continued to either maintain it or to purchase new equipment to assure we were keeping up with the latest technologies in our field.”

These efforts, Louie says, have resulted in “an exceptional safety record, low claims for workers compensation, and a reputation for high quality work. Our employees are very loyal which gives our clients the benefit of having a very reliable and experienced work force to assure high quality on their projects.”

Having offices in so many regional centres, even small ones, is a strategy which pays dividends in the light of many clients employing a ‘Buy Local’ policy. “That may not add up to a million bucks but it does essentially give us a competitive edge,” Louie shares, “and in a tight market that edge may be the difference between winning or losing a tender. Small can be beautiful – the Curnow Group office in Carnarvon, for example, a community 900 kilometres north of Perth and with a population of less than 5,000, has done some $12 million of business since it was set up. Major renovation work in the town has finished but Curnow Group will retain the office and is now working on a private residential project.”

Clients certainly value the local approach. “People want to deal with someone who can pop in and who they can see on a daily basis rather than just talking over the phone,” from a remote Perth head office. “We are a very client-focused contractor and we understand that in a project, irrespective of who the stakeholders are, there is a common goal: a quality product within the required time frame and within budget. Of course there are issues, there are bumps in the road in a project, but our team has instructions to stay focused, taking a project to completion, working with the client rather than against.” In turn, the client likes being able to have a dialogue with the contractor and see that everything is transparent and everyone is kicking the ball in the right direction.

Louie says the company’s initial focus was on a core competence of earthmoving but now there is a more comprehensive angle to its product and services offering. “We have the ability now to manoeuvre in the market and also to offers turnkey solution in-house,” he says. “A client can come to us and ask for earthworks, roads, infrastructure, buildings, tarmac, landscaping, and architectural structures, without going anywhere else.” Anywhere else in WA, says Louie, they would have to engage several different subcontractors to cater for all of those works which, of course, increases costs. Time and money are saved by dealing with a single contractor.

A Traffic Management Division was established within the company with the intention of creating long term career paths for both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous personnel. “Curnow Group will build itself around representing the highest quality of traffic calming solutions. Our team of experts specialise in installation and bring over 30 years of experience and knowledge to each project.” Specialising in providing solutions and innovative concepts throughout traffic management, Curnow Group helps to reduce accidents on roads, all while using management solutions or products that are safe to the environment. As the group’s website reports, “Understanding that customer satisfaction is key to securing repeat business, Curnow Group Traffic Management works tirelessly to ensure proactive, ground-breaking and flexible solutions to all projects… As potentially the most qualified installers in the industry, we are capable of providing individual and customised support to meet [clients’] traffic management needs.”

Curnow Group takes its cultural responsibilities seriously as well. The company is committed to increasing opportunities for Indigenous Australians to work with Curnow Group either directly or in sub-contracting capacities. The company “takes pride in working with individuals, Indigenous communities and businesses to maximise opportunities for Indigenous people,” and understands that communication and respect are fundamental when working with employees and clients alike. Curnow Group’s recruitment process assists Indigenous Australians in gaining employment and provides them with valuable feedback on their achievements, promoting opportunities for training and career development.

In particular, the company has established a cultural and beneficial relationship with the local, traditional and Indigenous land owners of the region, the Baiyungu Aboriginal Corporation and other local communities in association with the Salvation Army Employment Plus (Indigenous Australian Employment Gascoyne Region) in providing not only employment initiatives but extending to meaningful employment opportunities.

In terms of projects, Louie explains that Carnarvon town centre is a good advertisement for Curnow Group. The regeneration project was aimed at restoring the town’s heart. Closer to the state capital, the Perth Cultural Centre was a local government project that consisted of demolition, road building, construction, structural concrete, CCTV and electrical, hydraulics and landscaping. If that was not enough, Curnow Group was also responsible for putting together a massive (6m x 4m) TV screen public display.

The entire Perth Cultural Centre project was completed in what Louie calls a “very tight time frame,” ahead of the CHOGM meeting in Perth and it garnered the company a finalist position in the $1m-$5m category of the Western Australia Earth Award (the civil contractors’ Oscars). It’s a project Curnow Group is very proud of – and it showcases what the team can do in terms of a complete turnkey project.

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’?

May 26, 2020, 6:12 AM AEST