Civilex Victoria is a privately owned civil construction company with central focuses on Safety, their clients, and their employees. They take pride in providing opportunities for their staff, and also in exceeding their clients’ expectations in delivering a diverse range of projects. According to Ray Dando, Construction Director, those focuses are interconnected – having a safe work place, as well as skilled and happy employees, leads to superior client service. At Civilex, their wealth of internal expertise means they can go above and beyond simply managing a job for a client – they help their clients deliver projects on time and on budget, all whilst maintaining their core values: Safety, Quality and Relationships . “We’re focused on meeting our clients’ key deliverables and offering them alternatives that provide better outcomes for all stakeholders,” Dando says. “We’re not a commodity, we’re a service.”
Civilex was established in 2006 by Joe Bartolo, Managing Director. Bartolo had extensive industry experience and strong existing relationships prior to starting the company, having already acted as a Managing Director of a large structural concreting company. “Joe decided to form a civil construction company because he saw the need for a key player in the civil market, and with his wealth of experience and existing contacts, he knew this was a recipe for success,” Dando explains.
Dando himself got on board in 2008, when he and business partner Andrew Fairbairn started their own venture, a contract project management and estimating firm, and ended up working on a contract basis for Civilex Victoria. “Joe sat down with us and asked us to put forward a proposal of what we thought we could achieve in the company,” he recalls. “Our proposal stated that we could turn Civilex into a major player within the civil industry.” When Dando joined Civilex, the company was turning over approximately three million dollars per year. This year, only three years on, they are on target to turn over in excess of 30 million.
These days, Civilex Victoria conducts project management and civil construction on a very large scale. The Directors have extensive experience managing projects throughout the civil sector with values in excess of $400 million. “We’ve brought our expertise and experience to Civilex,” Dando states. “And we have done that successfully.” He says their services are turnkey – “We do everything. Our works vary from urban developments, commercial construction, roads and bridges, civil infrastructure, bulk earthworks, hard and soft landscapes and all the way to environmental solutions.”
Whilst Civilex are a relatively new contractor in the marketplace, Dando describes the company’s youth and forward thinking – coupled with the extensive experience of the company’s Directors – as a competitive advantage. “We’re the new kid on the block,” he says. “We’re young and enthusiastic, we come from a corporate structure, and we bring the Tier 1 mentality to the commercial industry. We see a real need for another key player in that industry and we see our extensive experience in project management, and our staff, as able to accommodate that need.” Civilex have four project managers with over 30 years of experience, and 10 senior foremen with over 15 years of experience each. “We’ve really handpicked our staff,” adds Dando.
Because of their range of experience and expertise, Civilex Victoria is able to offer alternative work methods and programming to their clients. “We see ourselves as an industry leader in that regard,” Dando says. “We offer our clients more than just doing the job – we actually bring something to their project and help them exceed their clients’ expectations. We don’t do the job and walk out – we’re a contractor who offers our clients alternatives, solutions, and price gains that they can then offer to their clients.” As a contractor, Civilex prefers to get involved with their clients at the start-up phase. “As opposed to just pricing what they put on the paper, we like to speak to them about alternatives we might be able to add based on our experience with design and construct projects,” Dando says. This way, they are able to save their clients unnecessary costs and potentially avoid costly problems down the road.
When Civilex Victoria first started, they had only six full-time employees. Today, they have in excess of 50 staff. “It’s going really well,” Dando understates, referring to their employee-company relationship. “At Civilex, we adopt many initiatives with the aim of maintaining job satisfaction among our employees. We offer golf days, have extravagant family-oriented Christmas parties, and we go to dinner regularly,” he says. “Myself, Andrew and Joe, the active Directors of the company, are also very involved and hands-on. We’re regularly in contact with both our management staff and labourers.”
Additionally, Civilex is focused on continuously developing their personnel. “We’re not just employing staff and expecting them to stay for the long haul,” Dando explains. “We’re constantly developing them in the way of training which includes, plant equipment training, licenses, and specialist courses such as first aid.” In fact, at Civilex Victoria, they want all their staff to be first aid accredited, from the Directors down to the labourers. “Basically we offer them all the support they need,” Dando says. “We have a great structure in our office, with four project managers and 10 site foremen on the ground. We feel that’s a really good mix.” They also support their staff by being technologically advanced. They are constantly refining those processes to make their employees jobs easier and more enjoyable.
“There are no glass ceilings,” Dando continues. “We have a lot of people who come to us who left companies because of that. There’re definitely no glass ceilings at Civilex. We empower our people to grow wherever they want to, and we’ll help them along the way to get there.” Because of their efforts, Civilex has very low staff turnover – a fact Dando states the company is very proud of.
Although they do not have issues retaining staff, Civilex still encounters challenges when recruiting new people to the organisation to accommodate their growth. “The challenge is trying to find skilled labourers and people on the ground floor that fit our culture and fit our requirements,” Dando says. At Civilex, they are looking for people who are open to learning, and want to add value to their team. “We don’t just want a pawn in the chess match,” says Dando. “We look for people who bring something to our company.” Those kinds of people are hard to come by, he says, especially at the volume necessitated by the company’s rapid growth. To combat this challenge, Civilex is constantly advertising, and offers incentives to their staff to find people – strategies which have proved successful so far.
Going forward, Dando says the company will diversify. At the moment, they are a strong player in the commercial sector, conducting 70 per cent of their work in that market. The plan is to have a greater focus on government work, and Dando states that have they recently completed a major accreditation that will help with that. “We see ourselves as becoming a key player in government projects whilst still maintaining our strong focus on the commercial sector, where our current roots are,” he says. They are also investigating the possibility of starting up a civil mining division and capitalising on the boom in that sector, as Dando has a background in mining himself.
In general, however, Dando says there are no turnover targets for the near future. The plan is to continue to do what they do now as well as they can, while constantly improving their systems and procedures along the way – the turnover will increase naturally. “I see Civilex in the long term as an industry leader and a top tier contractor, delivering large scale projects and still offering the same service that we do today.”