South Africa’s new player in the construction and property development industry
The founders of Lemay Construction have been a part of the South African and International Construction and Property and the industry for more than 75 years.
Rob Duncan, Duan van Wijk, and Simon Kruger founded Lemay Construction and Lemay Properties in 2009. Lemay Renovations and Painting was then founded in 2010 by the trio plus Tim Govender and Gary Darvall adding their expertise to the team. The company says, “The Lemay team has an ideal mix of skills and experience to offer clients professional advice and service in all the disciplines of the industry. Initially we started as a construction firm but being in the middle of the world’s worst economic recession in living memory the tender market was exceptionally flat. This motivated us to establish Lemay Properties to initiate our own developments thereby creating our own construction work.”
Lemay Construction perfected and fullfilled the role of a specialist turn-key contractor. Its initial projects involved the acquisition of derelict office blocks in Johannesburg’s C.B.D. for conversion into affordable residential rental apartments. “This sector of the market was and still is arguably the most active segment in the South Africa. Property Industry in spite of the recession due mainly to the high demand for residential rental stock,” says Lemay.
The company’s Refurbishment and Painting division was founded initially in order to take up sub-contract work created by its various developments, which it was outsourcing, but has expanded very rapidly to include clients outside the group.
Lemay’s three specialized divisions, Lemay Construction, Lemay Properties and Lemay Renovations and Painting all work in conjunction with each other. “The main reason for structuring our company into three specialist divisions is two-fold. It enables Lemay to package and focus our specialist in-house skills to our clients in a manner that ensures maximum focus and therefore maximum benefit for the client,” says Lemay. Having separate divisions also provides clients with a choice and a clear entry point to the types of services they require. “From the clients perspective their needs and point of entry may differ but we guarantee their experience of excellence will always be the same,” says Lemay.
Lemay Construction takes on contracts from R20 million to R200 million and can undertake works within the residential, retail, commercial office and industrial sectors of the South African market. “We are open to tendering on straight tender work but more recently have preferred to work on our own developments which has enabled us to perfect what we refer to as our turn-key contract approach,” says Lemay.
For Lemay Construction its turn-key contract approach includes: selection and appointment of professionals, coordination of design and working drawings, local authority and statutory approvals and compliance, appointment and management of all specialist subbies, overall project management including program compilation and monitoring, chairing of all related meetings, compilation of monthly management/financial reports for client and financiers, full construction phase on a fixed price contract basis, property commissioning and handover,” states the company.
Lemay Properties has fulfilled the role as property developer in its more recent projects and its scope of services include but isn’t limited to site sourcing and acquisition, initial concept design drawings, supply of market data and research from specific property investment segments, managing and letting of vacant space and sourcing of investors and end buy out clients.
The long-term strategy of Lemay Properties is to reinvest the group’s profits as well as to acquire and hold property investment portfolios for the benefit of all stakeholders and new external investors. “We view ourselves as specialists in the affordable residential rental market especially in the former degraded C.B.D.’s of South Africa’s cities, but do not want to limit ourselves to this market segment,” says Lemay.
Lemay Painting and Renovations
The company’s painting and renovations arm was established in order to fill the gap in its service offerings to clients as well as to maximize its economies of scale within its own developments. Lemay Painting and Renovation’s services include painting and renovation of existing and new structures, tenant fit outs, assisting in compilation of budgets and maintenance planning for decoration, refurbs and tenant fit outs and more. The company also provides product expertise on painting, specialist coating and industrial cleaning and water proofing.
Lemay is working on a number of different projects at the moment. One of its recently completed projects is the 29 Kerk St., Johannesburg C.B.D. development. This project was a redevelopment estimated at R100 million and includes 17 floors including two basement. The project was completed on budget in a record five months without sacrificing quality.
Lemay’s 16 Frederick St. Project is another redevelopment in Johannesburg’s, C.B.D. “This project involved the total refurbishment of an existing 4,267 square metre office block over nine floors into 139 new residential apartments with 289 square metres of retail space and 36 basement parkings,” says Lemay. The scope of the project includes an internal and external refurbishment which encompasses new electrics, plumbing and access control throughout including the installation of two new lifts. Similar to the 29 Kerk St. Project, Lemay Properties developed while Lemay Construction was the turn-key contractor.
Lemay has also worked on various retail outlets in Gauteng through its Painting and Renovations division. “Our new Painting and Renovations Division were fortunate to have secured a refurbishment contract with a large rapidly expanding South African national retailer in their first month of operation,” says Lemay. “We are proud of the fact that this new client was so impressed with the level of service provided by Lemay Painting and Renovations that they have negotiated the next three new outlet fitouts with us for R25 million.”
Key strengths and goals
The company has a small team that has a broad and experienced set of skills which includes project management, quantity surveying, contracts management, property management, facilities management and property development. “Due to our humble size, all directors and shareholders are operationally involved on a daily basis, not only out of necessity, but mainly out of passion for what we do,” states Lemay. The size of the company ensures that Lemay’s experience is made available and is applied directly to its business for the clients’ benefit. “The other benefit [of our size] is that all current staff has worked with the current directors previously at other companies and have been handpicked to join our organization as their ability and work ethic was known upfront,” says Lemay.
The company has goals in the future to maintain the highest standard of service to its clients which it believes is the key to its longevity in the marketplace. It also wants to continue to handpick its contracts to suite its established skills and thereby ensure the best possible service for its clients.
Health and safety is a very important aspect of Lemay. “We are strong believers in the approach that a safe, clean site is a productive profitable site and therefore financially beneficial for all stakeholders especially our sub-contractors and suppliers,” says the company. All national and legislative requirements are stringently implemented. The company prefers to work with independent professional safety officers in order to ensure impartial evaluation and monitoring. The company is proud of the fact that it received a top score, 5-star rating for its first big development, 29 Kerk St. and is on track to achieve a second 5-star rating on its 16 Frederick St. Project.
The company has a number of initiatives to ensure its social responsibilities are met and is committed to contributing to the development of the greater South African economy and all its people. For its staff members it has a number of initiatives including extra incentive bonuses, further training and skills development, shareholding for senior management, investment opportunities for staff in a property investment portfolio, and a staff bursary scheme. Currently the Lemay Developments are located in the downtown C.B.D. and by the company investing directly into these degenerated areas much needed Lemay is not only contributing directly into its immediate environments aesthetic and economic upgrade but it’s is doing so whilst simultaneously fulfilling a much needed social need for affordable housing.
The company is also committed to preserving the environment and comply with all current legislation that helps preserve the planet. “As developers we realize we have a role to play by including green technology in our developments wherever possible at a short-term cost to our bottom line but we do this willingly with the understanding that the lifespan of a building is a long term investment and its technology can have either a long-term negative or a long-term positive effect on the greater environment. We prefer the latter,” says Lemay.
Lemay is a strong company with a diverse range of skills. With commitment to integrity, service excellence, social conscience and the environment, Lemay has created a niche for itself in the marketplace and will continue to be a specialized market leader in the South African construction and property development industry.