From hospitals and warehouses to fish farms and beach hotels, Dewing Construction has built up a diverse portfolio of projects on its CV since its inception in 1981. With a foothold on East London projects, the company is now focusing on continuing its steady growth in the South African market as a reliable, trustworthy construction firm.
Established in 1981 and based in East London, South Africa, Dewing Construction entered the market as a residential contractor that was also involved in speculative residential projects. Moving into the 1990s the company started to work its way into the industrial and commercial market with jobs in the private sector. It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that it started work with the public sector.
Andrew Gericke, the managing director of Dewing Construction, has been with the company for eight years and rose to his current position after buying out the founder’s shares in March 2011. He has spent the last couple of years driving the company’s business to be the best it can be while also maintaining the values instilled by Dewing Construction’s founder: integrity, honesty and hard work.
Variety is the spice of life
Dewing Construction boasts a widely varied portfolio of projects, which has helped it gain integral market knowledge and remain competitive, even in tough economic times. From hospitals, to car dealerships, to fish farms, Dewing Construction can proudly say it has experience with each one under its belt.
A recent project the company is proud of is the Dutywa Community Health Centre, which it completed in 2010. However, based on the range of services available in the new building, it is really more of a mini-hospital, says Gericke. Awarded to Dewing Construction by the Department of Public Works, the project was valued at 45 million rand and was a single-storey building with wings for everything including a maternity ward, nurse’s station and multiple patient wards.
One of the most unique projects Dewing Construction has completed is a fish farm in the industrial development zone of East London. The project was a learning experience for Dewing Construction, as the company had never been involved in an aquaculture project before. However, Gericke says the company would be quite eager to do another project like this in the future and he’s pleased with the timing of it, especially since the aquaculture market in East London is poised for growth.
The company is currently working on a 3,500 square metre Checkers supermarket in the Hemingways Mall under a tight deadline of only five months, which Gericke says they are right on track with. This project is valued at approximately 32 million rand.
Concurrently, Dewing Construction is busy building a 7,500 square meter Volkswagen and Audi showroom for the NTT group. The Audi showroom design is based on a standard Audi corporate design that includes new materials and specifications, which will be unique to East London. “We are very excited and proud to be associated with the project and are looking forward to seeing the completed product. It is also great development for East London,” says Gericke.
Dewing Construction is no stranger to the green movement that has become increasingly predominant in the construction industry across the globe. While South Africa is no stranger to this rule, Gericke says the adoption of eco-friendly building techniques isn’t so much out of environmental concern as much as it is due to necessity, especially on the former Transkei where failing infrastructure dictates the need to be self-sufficient, particularly with services such as water and electricity. While it is out of necessity, Dewing Construction enjoys the opportunity to learn more about green building practices.
“We constructed a multi-storey hotel for the Blue Lagoon Hotel Group two years ago, right near the beach within the coastal zone. The client was very conscious about green construction,” says Gericke. “We enjoyed getting exposed to it, particularly harvesting rain and grey-water, and the extensive design to reduce energy consumption of the building.
According to Gericke, Dewing Construction has seen a wide range of economic situations during its existence. “I joined the industry when it was just coming out of a low point and I enjoyed the ride into the good times. I think we’ve definitely seen the best the industry will ever be,” he says.
Dewing Construction is no exception to the tumultuous economy and it has felt the effects of the recession. To help counteract this problem, the company has made sure to maintain a wide range of expertise that allows it to accept many different types of contracts.
“We are able to adapt to what work is out there in that we are able to do projects from as little as a million rand to 50 million rand,” says Gericke. This pairs well with the size and internal organisational structure of the company. By keeping a lean staff, Dewing Construction is able to maintain a low overhead cost.
These two factors have helped it weather a difficult economy while remaining successful.
Dewing Construction has many business strategies that have afforded it a competitive edge in its market, like its low overhead and varied portfolio. However, one of its biggest success factors is the values instilled in the entire company. The company maintains a strong code of ethics and has gained a glowing reputation for keeping its promises.
“We are young professionals within the company and are hands on managers who work at the cold face of construction. We always place our client’s needs first and ensure complete honesty throughout our dealings. We do what we say,” says Gericke. Businesses know Dewing Construction as dependable, honest and fair. Subcontractors know that it pays fairly and always sticks to the time table that has been established. Managing expectations is paramount.
“You’re only as good as the weakest team player,” says Gericke. Gericke has maintained this mentality while building his star executive and management team, ensuring everyone agrees with the company values and is able to maintain Dewing Construction’s reputation.
Gericke says he doesn’t have any plans for expansion in the near future. Instead he plans on following the trends and maintaining the integrity and stability of the company. He is looking to ramp up efforts to promote equality within the company by moving towards a higher B-BBEE status. He plans to promote new people to shareholder status in order to diversify the ownership behind the company, not just for more work but because he believes people who work hard and are skilled deserve to be rewarded.
Dewing Construction has used its impeccable market knowledge, honesty, portfolio, and dedication to carve itself a reputation in East London as a stable and dependable company to do business with. A focus on stability and openness to new techniques and emerging markets will continue to serve Dewing Construction well into the future.