With a rich and proud history spanning nearly eight decades, Thiess is Australia’s premier construction, mining and services contractor.
As the industry leader, the company plays a pivotal role in building vital infrastructure, promoting the country’s resources sector and providing essential services for communities in which it operates.
The company’s humble beginnings stretch back 79 years, when a band of brothers began a road contracting business on Queensland’s Darling Downs in 1934. The five brothers rallied their determination and skills to register two companies that would eventually become a multi-billion dollar business that delivers essential infrastructure projects from highways and airports, to dams and ports, to hospitals and commercial buildings.
Today, with a 20,000-strong workforce and an annual turnover of more than $7 billion, Thiess has more than 120 projects across Australia, Indonesia, India and New Zealand.
Despite its dynamic growth, Thiess maintains the vision of the founding brothers, delivering iconic projects that shape the country’s landscape.
“We see every project – no matter how large or small – as an exciting opportunity to support our communities, contribute to our country and advance our industry,” says Alex Smith, the company’s Group Media Manager. “We work with all stakeholders to deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients, the communities we work in and the environment.”
Thiess is renowned for its commitment to excellence, and behind that excellence is the hard work and dedication of its employees. The company prides itself on having a diverse and talented workforce, and in return provides its people with rewarding and fulfilling careers. It’s the skill, professionalism and knowledge of its staff that enables the company to excel on major projects.
“With size comes critical mass,” Smith explains. “That means great expertise, and the ability to innovate on these larger and more challenging projects. Smaller companies simply don’t have the resources to tackle the kind of work we do.”
“We’ve had a variety of different types of projects including building, roads, rail and tunnelling – there isn’t any area of construction in which we don’t have vast experience,” he continues. “In the mining sector, we pioneered coal mining in the early days to become the number one contract coal miner in the world. That’s critical mass – it brings together this enormous pool of expertise and resources that other companies can’t match.”
Despite being a multinational and growing company, Thiess takes care to never lose sight of where it has come from. The company started off with family values – values which still underpin the company’s culture today.
“We talk a lot about blue blood,” says Smith, “And what it means to have blue blood. Those people who have been with Thiess for some time are extremely proud of working for a company with our heritage, and with our commitment to innovation going forward.”
Innovation is one of the core values that drive everything at Thiess. The others include excellence, passion and trust. The company’s workforce all believe very strongly in those values, Smith says.
“Everyone here is a hard worker and invested in the great future we are all committed to giving the business.”
Safeguarding the future
In this day and age, an important part of leading the field in construction, mining and services is leading the field in sustainability. Every project has its own unique set of circumstances that requires an equally unique environmental approach. In that field more than any other, Thiess is a leader. The company is well-known for going beyond compliance to ensure there is minimal disturbance to the areas surrounding their job sites.
A significant example of Thiess’ leadership in sustainability is its work on the new Hunter Expressway, a project Smith describes as “a beacon of environmental sensitivity”.
“The road corridor has been constructed through the most extraordinarily rugged terrain with only two metres of disturbance on either side of the corridor,” Smith explains. “That’s pretty amazing. When people start driving on it, they’re going to be going right beside the treetops.”
“Sustainability for us doesn’t only mean the environment,” he adds. “It means safety as well. Both the environment and the safety of our people are equally and absolutely key in every project.”
Thiess’ commitment to environmental sustainability was as a natural part of the evolution of the business. From the beginning, building a more sustainable future was a company goal. “The Thiess brothers themselves in the 1930s were already conscious of those matters, well ahead of their time,” Smith says.
“In addition, the concept of safety was also important, since it’s such a big part of sustainability,” Smith continues. “A good example is back on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme in the 1960s, where there were signs about safety displayed prominently in the workplace. That should give you an idea about how far ahead of the game they were when it came to safety.”
Thiess did not rise to the top alone. Without its suppliers, subcontractors and – of course – its clients, the company would not be as successful as it is today. The company strives to deliver what it promises; to establish strong, long-term relationships.
“It’s all about establishing trust,” Smith concludes, “And that’s a two-way process. Together we build a project that all of us can come away from and be proud of.”
Moving forward, Thiess’ goals are to continue to see sustainable growth, both internally and externally. “We’ve seen some challenges on some of our mega projects, but we’ve completed them and they stand as a testament to the engineering skills, expertise and resilience of a great team,” says Smith.
Our team is united and focused on the future – we’re going to grow bigger and stronger, not for the sake of growth, but for the long-term sustainability of the company.”