09/07/2009 - 00:00

Public perception works for Georgiou

09/07/2009 - 00:00


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The secret to successfully managing an expanding privately owned business is to act like it’s public, according to John Georgiou.

Public perception works for Georgiou

THE Georgiou Group may be best known for its landmark projects, but it's the company's organisational structure that has defined the rapidly growing privately owned Western Australian construction firm.

Georgiou Group chief executive John Georgiou said the company's private ownership had allowed it to grow within its limits and manage its expectations while delivering major projects, including the award-winning residential development at Ellenbrook, the marina in Mandurah, and resources infrastructure works around the nation.

"One of the things about being a private company is that we're not driven by short-term gains, and this is where a lot of other companies have come unstuck," Mr Georgiou told WA Business News.

The establishment of an executive board, to which he reports, the publication of an annual report and a keen focus on branding had helped the group penetrate its targeted clientele.

"People who use our services are relatively easy to identify, so knowing who they are is easy; but doing business with that client so they have a feel for who we are is about having a brand or a perception in the market," he said.

"We need to have a brand in the market and we need to apply that transparently, so part of our strategy going forward in the next few years is being able to create that business, and I think the culture does allow that."

Under this structure since 2003, Georgiou Group has experienced sustained growth.

"In terms of employees we have around about 400 permanent staff, our turnover last year was about $230 million, while turnover this year will be slightly down on that," Mr Georgiou said.

"For next year we're budgeting well over $200 million in work in hand and, with some of the projects we've got coming up, we think we'll do close to $400 million next financial year.

"Typically if you took an average, we've had about 30 to 35 per cent compounded growth in revenue each year. What's helped us grow is our ability to attract people and get the right people.

"I suppose that's what I see as my main job within our structure, to be looking at our senior executives, looking at our managers to make sure we get the right people."

The Georgiou story began in 1977 when Mr Georgiou's father, Peter Georgiou, established Direct Drainage, a civil contractor specialising in stormwater, sewerage and water components.

In 1991, the company expanded by acquiring Roadpave and creating a pre-cast concrete facility, Geocrete.

A major turning point for Georgiou was the creation of WA's largest residential estate, Ellenbrook, in 1996.

The work at Ellenbrook earned the group recognition from the Urban Development Institute as creating the best residential development in Australia.

Two years later, the synergies between the group's three businesses were recognised, and the companies were consolidated under the new banner, the Georgiou Group.

While the types of projects undertaken by the group continued to diversify throughout the late 1990s and the early part of this decade, the company recognised the need to grow in a different manner, Mr Georgiou said.

"We grew it more from a management point of view, with more engineers, more project managers, and took on more complicated, sophisticated kind of work," he said.

"As we grew the business we started working more with bigger clients and more sophisticated contracts, and that was really what we wanted to do."

Today, Georgiou Group has three main divisions - an infrastructure business unit with offices in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane; an engineering business unit with a large presence in New South Wales, but most of its scope in WA; and a building services unit which tackles commercial building and specialised industrial projects.

Georgiou's main expansion focus is now on oil and gas, mining and general infrastructure projects both in WA and interstate, Mr Georgiou said.

"For us, resources, oil and gas and our east coast businesses are expanding," he said. "Typically we're a construction company that builds infrastructure."


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