The Foundation of the Construction Industry
The Neilsen Group has made a name for itself by providing three very important services to the construction and infrastructure industries. They supply pre-mixed concrete, concrete aggregate and general quarry product supply, fly-ash supply and the transport of each of these products to the required sites. This year they are celebrating 35 years of exceptional business and service in Queensland. They are made up of four main entities: Neilsen’s Quality Gravels Pty Ltd, Neilsen’s Concrete Pty Ltd, Neilsen’s Transport Pty Ltd, and Alberton Investments Pty Ltd. Each company performs a specific function, although each adds to the strength of the whole.
Parts of the whole
Neilsen’s Quality Gravels Pty Ltd produces high quality sand, aggregates and road base materials to meet the varying demands of the construction industry throughout South East Queensland. This includes infrastructure and construction project across the geographical area. The first quarry was opened in 1976 in Brendale, a second in 1997 was opened at Beaudesert, and a third was opened in 2008 at Bromelton. In 2011, the group plans to have its quarry in Kin Kin at full operation.
Neilsen’s Concrete Pty Ltd produces pre-mixed concrete products to meet the needs of the construction industry. They offer a wide range of common construction concrete products as well as specialty products including exposed concrete, pool mixes, coloured concrete and spray mixes. They opened their first quarry site in 1993 in Brendale, they then opened their second batching site at Carole Park in 1997. Their 2004 Windsor site was created to serve the inner city and suburbs. Their newest plant at Stapylton is a cutting edge development that has increased their ability to produce and develop their pre-mixed concrete product range.
Neilsen’s Transport Pty Ltd is an integral part of the operations. It is made up of a fleet of both company and subcontractor operated agitators, tippers and tankers. With this company Neilsen Group is able to transport all of their quality products to where ever they are needed.
Alberton Investments Pty Ltd is the property development and planning division of the Neilsen Group. Part of their responsibility is to plan the rehabilitation and development of Neilsen’s quarry extraction site at Brendale. Here they hope to provide the community with new business and opportunities.
Expanding and changing
Since their founding they have continued to enjoy almost exponential growth in the Queensland area, expanding their portfolio and their ability to deliver. “It’s a good family business, and a very successful family business,” says Arthur Walton, Group Concrete Manager of Neilsen’s Concrete Pty Ltd. “There are very few family employees in the company, and most of the people who work in the company are a majority non-family members. It is a very good environment in which to work. We have the owners – the Neilsens – who have made a commitment to service quality and staff loyalty, and all those sort of good things that make it an absolute pleasure to work here, and are pretty essential.” Arthur Walton has over 25 years of experience in the concrete industry. He joined the Neilsen team in 200, with the goal of expanding their concrete customer database.
“Neilsen is a private company and we are a truly independent competitor in the construction materials industry,” says Walton. “Our founders were Ernie and Ruby Neilsen. Their son is our current managing Director- that of course is Ray Neilsen.” He says that a lot of their strength comes from the fact that the owners have been able to recognize that expansion does not mean bringing in more family members, but it can mean that they bring in more people to become part of their family through hard work and dedication. Ray Neilsen has been the CEO of all the portfolios that Neilsen covers since their inception, and is now officially retired but still plays a vital role in major decisions, and acts as Chairman of the Board.
“I think it’s important to note that we have a new CEO, Mario Panuccio, along with a few other key people,” he says. “He has been at the helm for a couple years and has been instrumental in taking the company into a very exciting direction.” Panuccio brings over 30 years of experience in the construction materials industry to the table. He has held positions in Australia and overseas at the Senior Management and Executive Positions at corporate levels, state and national levels. He has built a career in the quarry, fly ash, precast and concrete industries. Walton says that even with new blood in the organisation they have managed to stay true to original guiding philosophies that the founders established Neilsen on.
Their mission statement outlines their commitment to become “the leading independent supplier of premixed concrete and extractive products within south eastern Queensland, by creating value for their customers and shareholders by market driven innovation in products and services, winning in quality growth markets, inspiration and reward of talented people, relentless pursuit of operational excellence, responsible care for the environment and exemplary safety performance.”
At the present time they have about 120 full time employees, and many subcontractors on the transport side. 1/3 of their concrete agitators are direct employees of the company, with the other 30 positions being filled by other contractors.
Green technology means savings
The Neilsen Group has also focused on recycling their waste, not as only an environmental initiative, but a way of increasing their output. “We have also introduced a measure that we hope to reduce our waste to about zero through recycling. We hope to achieve this in about five years. Right now we find that we have a lot of waste in our processes with our quarry products and concrete products,” says Walton. “We have probably one of the first concrete reclaimers of its type at one of our plants, so that we have the trucks come back with left over concrete. We actually process that material and reuse it.” This new technology rests at Neilsen’s Carol Park plant. “Since using the reclaimer to its capability we are finding it is saving a lot of expense,” he says. Instead of using virgin materials they have re-inputted unused product that would have otherwise gone to waste. “We can also recycle aggregates and sand and put that back into our production process, it really is well and truly paying for itself.” Walton says that though may not use the same technology in every case they can now use this successful operation as a template to apply to their other production and material processes – representing substantial savings in the near future at their three other concrete plants. “The sand and aggregates that we get out of the process is at least the equivalent to virgin materials.” The reclaimer separates the paste that was binding the product back down to its original form, removing any chemical additives.
Walton is very excited about their new concrete plant at Staplyton, located in the Brisbane / Gold Coast Corridor. “This area is a very high growth area,” he says. “The area between the Gold Coast and Brisbane has a very rapid infill development.” According to Walton the Stapleton plant is the first of its type in the area and its mechanical package is also the first of its type in all of Australia. “It actually has a wet batching process where we mix the cementitious constituents with the water, sand and additives, then fire it into the back of the truck where we introduce the stone” Walton says this has many advantages over other products because it is very easy to load, handle, and use. “As far as quality goes, it is an extremely high-quality product. It’s very fast to load and it is very clean. There is almost no dust. It is a great process and is really cutting edge.”
Walton says that it is a policy of the Neilsen Group to maintain their position of developing and adopting technology that is on this “cutting edge”. “We have a 1300-concrete number, which in itself is unique for our marketing and advertising,” he says. They have a central phone centre that lets them route and manage all incoming phone calls to all their businesses and applications. There are not that many construction companies out there that have taken the time to create a number that is easy to remember. “Our sales centre is easy to reach at that number, and they will funnel through any inquires about our products,” he says. Making sure that everyone is connected is another aspect of their customer service and quality assurance initiative. “All of our sales reps and managers have BlackBerrys. They all have a custom reporting system on the devices that lets them look up the orders of the day, or how many particular cubic metres a customer has, what the price is, how the deliveries are going. We have some very good technology there,” no matter where their people are, they are never away from the information that they or their customer might need. “We may be small, but we are quite innovative.”
One of the most ground-breaking technological advances that the Neilsen Group has implemented is a plant specifically designed to deal with concrete dust. “At our Bromelton quarry we have installed a plant to process crusher dust, which is a by-product of making concrete aggregates, to produce a manufactured sand,” says Walton. “The unique thing about this manufactured sand plant is that surplus very fine particles in the crusher dust are removed by air classification rather than the traditional method of washing the fines out with water.” Not only does this process achieve a better environmental outcome through conservation of water on the site, the major benefit to the Neilsen Group is that they achieve a very high quality of manufactured sand which has extremely low variation in product consistency. “The surplus fines extracted by this process are then incorporated into our road base products, so there is no wastage as everything is recycled,” he says.
Innovation is part of the strategy
He says that part of this innovation is required because they need to offer the same ability to deliver that a large corporation would have. “I guess we have to wear the same amount of hats with less people that the larger companies do, but it is very fulfilling to work for a small company because you find yourself in a lot more roles than you would in a larger company where the roles are a lot more specialised,” says Walton. Even being the “small guy”, they are beginning to get a very good reputation among their industry peers for the quality work that they do. Within the next five years they plan to expand their holdings in South East Queensland, and continue to build on the service and products that have made them a success. “We want to look at any and all contracting opportunities, even off shore ones,” says Walton. “We have never done much advertising,” he says, “we have just relied on building great relationships with people, which is how we have gotten to where we are today.”