JK Williams Contracting is a civil engineering company that does not make promises lightly. While other companies promise the world and – all too often – fail to deliver, the people at Williams pride themselves on delivering what they pledged and more. This is because they never compromise on their core values, which include integrity and fairness, as well as innovation and leadership.
“Our values provide a common framework for us to operate and maintain our integrity without compromising our ability to compete,” explains Leigh Hartog, the company’s Managing Director. “They are at the heart of understanding who we are and what we do.”
The company’s commitment to those values began all the way in 1958, when they were founded by the eponymous John Kenneth Williams – who wasbest known as Jack. At the time, the business consisted of only Jack, a second-hand truck, and one 1939 ex-army bulldozer. Jack was dedicated to performing with integrity, however, and that dedication quickly earned him a reputation for getting the job done. Soon after establishing the business, he was winning earthmoving contracts all over developing areas of Western Sydney.
More than 50 years and 150 employees later, JK Williams Contracting still has its main operations in Penrith, where Jack first founded it – with new premises recently constructed at Jack Williams Drive. They also have a permanent branch office in Coffs Harbour, and are looking to expand to other regional areas.
“We are proud of our track record, our experience, and our capacity to manage any size project with our team of professionals,” says Hartog.
Since 1992, the company has sustained consistent organic growth. Today, they specialise in civil engineering, industrial and residential sub-divisions and are amongst the top five companies within their field in New South Wales. In the Penrith City Council area alone, they have constructed 78 per cent of all housing lots and 42 per cent of all commercial lots.
All about loyalty
JK Williams is “not just your typical contractor,” Hartog says. “We’re a rather diverse contractor with many specialist skills.”
The company’s specialist areas of expertise include subdivisional works, roadwork upgrades, remote works, environmental rehabilitation, and building solutions for large building sites.
With subdivisions in particular, JK Williams has become one of the most highly-regarded contractors in the state. They have provided services for subdivisions both large and small, and residential and industrial. They are capable of carrying out the bulk earthworks, but also have specialist skills in providing the entire associated infrastructure – such as sewer, water, electrical, and stormwater structures. They can also coordinate and manage the installation of gas and telecommunication services.
Over the years, those skills have continually evolved alongside technology. Advances such as mmGPS technology help the company to construct all processes to the narrowest of tolerances, and “ensure full compliance of the final product,” Hartog says. They are one of the only companies in Australia utilising that technology, he adds, and he estimates that they are laying concrete pathways at half of the cost of conventional means as a result.
“Our uniqueness is that we are able to maintain our traditional values while still providing the benefits of modern technology and superior workmanship on all our projects.”
In general, JK Williams has assembled one of the most modern and best-equipped fleet of earthmoving equipment in the industry. From bulldozers and trucks to excavators and trenchers – all of the company’s equipment is of the latest design, and built by the leading manufacturers of their fields. They are currently working with a 140M Caterpillar Grader, for example, which is an innovative machine controlled entirely via joysticks.
That commitment to keeping up with the latest technology deserves at least part of the credit for the company’s ongoing success, according to Hartog. The rest of the credit, he says, goes tothe calibre of their staff.
“We have a good, loyal workforce,” he explains. “That’s the main reason we’ve been successful – our people.”
Hartog joined the company in 1972, before purchasing it 20 years later. He was originally drawn in by their family culture, and he has worked hard to keep that culture alive. Since most of the company’s employees have been with them for more than 10 years, he estimates that he’s been successful in that aim.
In his role as Managing Director, he’s also endeavours to extend that culture to include JK Williams’ suppliers and subcontractors – many of whom have also been working with the business for many years.
“We have our preferred suppliers and our preferred subcontractors,” he says. “We’re very loyal to them and they’re very loyal to us.”
Moving forward, Hartog wants to see that loyalty maintained. On the back of those strong relationships, he also wants to see the business grow. He wants to continue to meet and exceed the needs of existing clients, while diversifying and specialising to meet the needs of new ones as well.
“If you don’t grow, you die,” he says. “You’ve got to keep in front of technology, and you have to implement not ‘best practice’ but ‘next practice.’ We’ve got to find out what we need to do, and how we can do it differently and better than others.”
“We don’t necessarily want to be the biggest,” he concludes. “We want to be the best.”