Expanding their abilities with the times
Naric Pty Ltd is a civil construction company based in Ipswich, Queensland. The company was established in 2006 by company directors Ian Hargreaves and Richard Probert. Ian says that the two met while working at another company, and then decided to strike out on their own. The company currently focuses on subdivision developments, but does not limit itself and considers all jobs that are civil construction related.“I was running a successful civil construction company for about ten years.When I first took over the running of the company I was able to grow the company from six staff members to about 40. Circumstances arose where I thought it was time for me to go out on my own, and with Richard, my business partner and brother-in-law, we have made it a sort of family business,” says Ian Hargreaves. He also says that their wives have their own separate distribution business that they run separately from Naric, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to have joined the two families. The origin of Naric’s name is a bit of a family secret as well, and Hargreaves laughs when pressed about it. “No one knows, it is our secret. Everybody asks, but really no one knows.” He says this question has become almost a form of marketing for the business, getting people curious enough to give them a call.
A fast start
From their start in 2006, they have grown their staff to over 35 full-time individuals. “We of course started with the two directors, which includes myself. We then had three more people join us in 2006, and then quickly expanded to 15 within six months,” says Hargreaves. He says that they enjoyed three good years before the GFC hit, but have remained confident that they can continue to be profitable and proficient at what they do even through the current tough times. “We have managed to maintain our margin. We have diversified to cope with the downturn in the work, this has included projects that we have developed on our own including a larger one that we did as a joint venture on the North side of Brisbane,” he says. They used cash reserves that they had accumulated to invest in these projects, projects which have both diversified Naric and secured their future. “Once the market picks back up we expect to see some sizeable returns on those investments,” he says. This was part of their strategy to emerge from the GFC better off than they were going in. “We had a reduced work load, and we wanted a way to keep our people employed so we looked at a joint venture in the residential subdivision. This kept a number of our staff members busy until the time we were able to get more work.” Hargreaves views each individual that works for them as a valuable member of the team, and thinks that holding onto their skills and abilities is of the utmost importance. He also indicates that the projects they have engaged in look to start producing returns by the end of this financial year.
From the success that they had enjoyed, Naric opened a second branch in Central Queensland called Naric Civil North. Mark Hunter is the director of this branch that has been run out of Mackay since 2009.Naric Civil North performs similar works and employs similar skill sets, but they have also expanded to service the needs of the booming resource industry. “They are able to provide accommodation and camp type setups. It is an area of focus that Naric North has taken on,” says Hargreaves. They have completed works in Townsville, Mackay, Caloundra, Emerald, Moranbah and other mining areas in the central mining belt of Queensland.
“They are not in the mining sector themselves,” says Hargreaves. “They operate as a fringe company. They look at things like private accommodations for worker’s camps, subdivisional developments for private developers in those areas where a lot of the workers get housed.” He says that they have stayed away from the mining sector directly due to the fact that the competition in that market is very intense.”
Learning the new market
Hargreaves says that they have not missed this lesson from their operational sister company, and are actively looking at opportunities throughout Queensland that involve the mining sector. “Right now we are getting away from a lot of the inner city works that you would find in Brisbane, and are heading towards the outlying areas,” he says. He also says there has been a bit of a silver lining to the natural disasters that Queensland has suffered over the last year, and that flood repair work has been another revenue stream that they have incorporated into their functional abilities.“We have been pre-qualified to do flood repair work Queensland wide,” Hargreaves says. “The Queensland Flood Authority has an awful lot of work to do, and a relatively small amount of time in which to do it. So while the commercial and residential markets have dropped significantly, those areas have not had a chance to really take off.” He says that once these projects come online, Naric Civil will be in a great position to apply their skills and abilities.
Right now their focus has remained on the civil industry and surpassing expectations. Apart from their abilities servicing subdivisions, they have developed specific skill-sets in sport fields, and mining camps.“We have been continually involved with local government infrastructure work. Right now we are building a few large sport fields,” reports Hargreaves. “We have done work for the Department of Defence, these are all areas that we are particularly good at. It is a fairly consistent business,” he says. With the present “lull” in business, they have branched out, but they continue to grow as a business, and with their skill sets. He says that one of the things that has kept customers coming back to them is that as a family owned business, that does a majority of the work in house, they havecontrol over two major things that clients look at: cost and time.
Ready for the future
In the future Naric will continue to look at opportunities in the project development market. “We have a very good relationship with our developers. It is very frank, very open book. If you can develop that kind of relationship with them they can become interested in developing major partnerships,” says Hargreaves. He says that Naric is an appealing company to partner with because they control their construction process, and in a partnership they have a vested interest in seeing the work completed, on time and with the best possible quality. “It also means we will look at cost minimisation, and innovation at the same time,” he says. “We have been able to do that with our current developments.”
“Naric Civil is a family owned company and the people that work for us become part of that family,” says Hargreaves. “We always try to create the best product for our clients, and they are going to get that personal touch that only a company like Naric can provide. The buck truly stops with the people that own the company – contracts are one of those things we put in a drawer and not touch. What we focus on is good communication with our clients, consultants, and the councils. Good open communication is what makes good projects possible and successful”.