10/02/2011 - 00:00

Emco builds on primary asset – its name

10/02/2011 - 00:00

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IT’S common to hear the leaders of established businesses name two vital ingredients to success – planning and developing relationships.

Emco builds on primary asset – its name

IT’S common to hear the leaders of established businesses name two vital ingredients to success – planning and developing relationships.

In the case of Western Australian building and construction company Emco, there are some additional elements to its success.

To begin with, the people who started the business 25 years ago, John Ripp and Don Cousens, have maintained their ownership.

Emco general manager Ron Keogh said this had helped to create longevity in the business’ values of building strong relationships.

“John Ripp and Don Cousens, along with the senior management team, have a very strong philosophy in terms of building long-term relationships with clients,” he said.

“As a result there is a very strong commitment on our part in building a good product, but also in a cooperative way.”

Building those foundations in an industry subject to market fluctuations helped Emco secure work during the recent downturn.

“Even in the last year we have still seen a significant amount of our work come through direct negotiation where we are their preferred builder and they still want to work with us,” Mr Keogh said.

“The temptation is incredibly strong particularly during a boom period ... to move away from your core objectives and take advantage.

“You can see with some of our competitors that in a boom they can grow so rapidly that they tend to lose a little bit of control. Of course when a downturn comes they shrink equally as rapidly.

“We tend to make plans and actually stick to them.”

That’s not to say Emco has been conservative in its growth, at least not in Mr Keogh’s opinion.

While the core of the business remains in commercial building, four years ago plans were put in place to diversify Emco’s markets, with a focus on the lucrative private education market.

Mr Keogh recalls the Trinity and Penrhos College projects helped to establish a foothold in the market for Emco, which currently has $33.5 million in school projects on its books.

Mr Keogh said one of the strategies had been to accept contracts of any size.

“We understand that in lean times you have to be prepared to look at the small projects as well as the large ones,” Mr Keogh told WA Business News.

“Even in boom times we have always said you can’t rule out a sector of your market. If you do that, you are just going to upset the relationship.”

Emco has two other markets in its sights – the modular market in the north-west of the state, and the development and construction of luxury residences.

And while commercial construction is where the company plans to get its 20-25 per cent annual growth, it is slowly developing its reputation in these new areas.

“While we are like any business – we are driven by profit – it is not our only goal,” Mr Keogh said.

“We understand that with a project, it almost doesn’t matter how good the project is, what the client will often remember is what the relationship was like. We protect out reputation at all costs ... our name is by far the biggest asset we have.”

 

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