Awards win a credit to all involved
Lester Foxall, CEO of successful civil infra-structure company Connell Contractors Ltd, describes the start of 2020 as a continuation of what has been a very busy time for the company these past three years or so.
Based in the company’s headquarters in Foreman Road, Hamilton, Lester overseas the day-to-day operation of a business that employs 55 staff, across three locations, with branches in Auckland and more recently New Plymouth.“The areas we operate in are quite niche,” says Lester.
“There aren’t too many operators able to take on the breadth and scope of civil work across a number of sectors, including territorial authorities, energy generation industries and marine work,” says Lester.
In fact when describing the level of business Lester uses the word ‘swamped’ and it is this demand that has led to the gradual, carefully managed increase in staff and capacity.
“You know at its core it is a family business, operating these days within a corporate model. “The four active directors, of which two are founders Dave and Margo Connell, are all committed to retaining the values and work ethic the company has built its reputation on.”
Recognition of the company’s growth and performance came late last year in winning both the ‘Business & Growth’ category and the overall ‘’Supreme’’ title at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards. For Lester, it’s peer recognition of what has been achieved, in particular through the investment in its people.“We are all very proud of the awards. We were up against strong competition.
The judging panel came and grilled us on our day-to-day operation, our strategic focus, training matrixes, the works!” There were learnings involved Lester observes and he welcomes these outcomes of the competition process, to feed not only into his role as chief executive but to permeate through all levels of the company.
“We’re certainly about continual improvement. Doing things better for our clients, for the environment through a focus on working sustainably, for our staff and for the future of Connell Contractors as well.”
Above all, Lester says key to the company’s burgeoning growth and success is the simple commitment to ‘back what it says it will deliver’ and when working in often challenging environments, which have an aspect of the unknown to them, this goal requires great planning, resourcefulness and a belief in the team; from management through to those literally in the ground.
There is a strong team culture, enabled by an attitude that transparency within the organisation is really essential. Lester says management works hard to provide ways for all staff to understand the future direction and current situation of the company.
Quarterly meetings offer staff an opportunity to engage with management, to be updated on the state of the business and the projects on its books. Most importantly it’s an opportunity also for them to input thinking which may inform future decisions by management.
When these meetings take place all work is suspended for a day to allow the whole team to be together. “On face value it comes at a huge cost to the business but the pay back is ten-fold,” says Lester.Connell Contractors invests heavily in staff training to offer ways for individuals to evolve within the company over time.
“We’re planning to see some development inside the company in terms of roles so that, when those in positions of responsibility who are considering retirement or a change in direction decide that it’s time to move on, there exists a wealth of capability and experience to take on those roles.”
The company is fully engaged in a technically complex and challenging project for Hamilton City Council – working on the Western Interceptor sewer comprising 2.4 kms of 1050mm diameter concrete pipe. Connell Contractors have had a presence in Taranaki for the past 14 months.
Inin that time it has become engaged in some major energy infrastructure projects for ABB, Mitton Electronet and Electrix. The recently commissioned project at Junction road was a profile enhancing exercise for Connell being delivered on time and budget.
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