Construction Management Consultancy Leaders

Trust, accountability and dedication are essential cornerstones in the business philosophy of construction management consultancy Betts Townsend.

Betts Townsend Ltd is a construction project management company established in 1995. It offers superior project management services to an extensive client base in a variety of sectors.

With more than 30 years construction experience under his belt, Betts Townsend founder and CEO Howard Betts established the company 19 years ago and the company was originally known as Betts Projects. Betts Townsend’s scope of business encompasses the retail, leisure, commercial, residential and mining sectors, with particular focus on retail projects.

Betts’ previous experience as a contractor has contributed to the success of the company and maintaining long term clients. Betts has worked in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and the U.K. and in all corners of South Africa. He is currently registered with the SACPCM, Chartered Institute Building and the Association of Construction Managers (ACPM).

Betts Townsend comprises 60 full-time employees and is currently positioned in the top three construction project management firms in South Africa. Its corporate main office is in Johannesburg and the company also has regional offices in Cape Town, Durban, Mauritius and Kenya. Project specific satellite offices are created to allow for a hands-on project management approach.

Howard Betts and Executive Director Mike Taylor point out that while many firms were exploring new territory such as the Middle East in the past few years, Betts Townsend has remained firmly focused on its South African market and clients. The company elected to keep its focus on the local market and keep refining its services for established clients during recent years.

“We build our relationships with our clients on trust and integrity,” Taylor explained in a prior interview. “They entrust us with large amounts of money and we co-ordinate a team which is responsible for delivering the correct yields for funds and developers.”

There are plans to look a little further afield within neighbouring African countries for new opportunities. The company’s directors have already gained experience over the border in countries such as Tanzania, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique, and would like to build on this even further.

The introduction of the project manager to the development industry has been brought about due to the ever increasing demand for fast track construction. Project managers need to possess a technical understanding that encompasses the different contractors and sub-contractors and all the elements that go into creating a project. The role of the project manager within the construction industry is stressful, demanding, intense and challenging, but anyone who steps into this role will find themselves constantly learning, meeting and working with new people and industries, and leaving their jobs at the end of the day with sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Construction project management is simultaneously one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding professions in the build environment.

Betts Townsend is responsible for ensuring smooth progress within the project including feasibility assessments, working with architects and engineers, managing main and subcontractors, budgets, managing information flow, and occupational health and safety.

In most projects, the project manager acts as the principal agent. Betts Townsend keeps the client apprised of the project’s progress while maintaining the responsibility for managing professional teams and ensuring timely execution of the project.

There are six stages in the process of project management. At all stages, there are recorded meetings and the client will sign to proceed to the next stage in the process.

Stage One starts with setting the client’s requirements and preferences, assessing their needs, appointing consultants, establishing objectives, priorities and strategies.

Stage Two is the finalization of the project concept and feasibility;

Stage Three involves coordinating and integrating the detail and design process, setting time, cost and quality parameters of the project.

Stage Four sets the stage for the procurement and tender process with contractors and subcontractors and involves setting a timeframe for completion of the project.

Stage Five is the construction phase of the project. Contractors and subcontractors are awarded the work and monthly project progress reports are sent to Betts Townsend.

Stage Six is the project close out including a certificate of final completion and a project close out report.

During all phases of the project, the client is informed of progress by way of regular project planning meetings with the development team, design meetings and site meetings with the main contractor and direct sub-contractors. There are also regular ‘site walks’ with the construction team, random Occupational Health and Safety inspections, monthly cost review meetings and monthly client reporting and client briefings.

Taking on the project management role in a construction endeavor involves managing the contractual relationship between the client and the contractors to provide the client with the required structure, while remaining within the allotted time and budget and keeping the necessary quality requirements for completion. The role encompasses forward planning, examines the cost and quality of the materials and teams, and handles the everyday planning of the minutiae on any given site. Years of planning go into a project, long before the job actually starts.

The industry faces a number of challenges at the moment – both within and outside the sector itself – owing to the ongoing shaky global economy.

As the economy becomes more volatile and the industry faces increasing regulation and potential for greater fines, managing a project means increasing demand for leadership with patience and an in-depth understanding of how all sides operate — and this is not the only threat.

Another issue that poses a challenge is the role itself. A lack of skills can be a concern: within the construction industry a project manager should understand not only the construction process, but also know how to manage the people involved, which is something Betts Townsend are experts at.

Yet another challenge emerges when companies wind up taking on too many projects, resulting in a lack of manpower and even cash flow problems. This is not helped by pressure to maintain fast-track construction programmes.

In spite of the challenges of the today’s economy and challenges within the industry, Betts Townsend secures so much repeat business because of its results orientated approach and the fact that it places such high importance on trust.

Betts Townsend has built up a team of experienced, dedicated people who not only have refined their project management skills and savvy, but who intimately understand their clients’ business requirements and always strive to exceed expectations.