Big Fish

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-By John Boley

… in a big pond. Given the vast areas of water surrounding our continent-country, you would perhaps expect it to be an ultra-competitive place to do business. But according to Simon Giessauf, general manager – corporate at Maritime Constructions, it’s not quite as shark-infested as one might think.

“Sure it’s a huge area of water, but marine infrastructure has been on the increase over the last ten years or so – there is a lot of growth in the industry at the moment. It’s a highly specialist field, and in fact there are not actually a lot of contractors in it.”

Maritime Constructions is a specialist marine infrastructure contractor based in South Australia with more than 20 years of experience in marine construction. The company provides a broad spectrum of services, such as wharf and jetty design and construction, capital and maintenance dredging, aids to navigation, underwater pipelines, breakwaters and marine asset management and maintenance.

Much of the work carried out is remedial and most of it is environmentally sensitive – especially in these conservation-conscious times. Maritime is well aware of the challenges it faces and fully accredited to deal with them. “We take the environmental side of the business very seriously,” says Simon. “Senior members of staff enjoy the marine environment themselves, from a fishing, swimming and diving point of view. It’s a true underlying value that we respect the environment we work in and look to see it preserved accordingly.”

Working in the marine and coastal environment presents special challenges. “We consistently and continuously work towards minimising the impact of our operations on the environment to meet strict guidelines and community expectations. Our intent is matched only by our performance, which has been recognised with four CCF and Case Earth awards for dredging the troubled River Murray mouth and the River Torrens, as well as the design and construction of the Rapid Bay Jetty and the Semaphore Park offshore breakwater.”

Maritime’s success over the years is attributed to a “dedicated, motivated and experienced team; the company’s greatest asset. Our in-house, accredited Maritime Industry Training Centre has been instrumental in growing the specialised skills of our team.”

People are the major asset, says Simon. “Due to the equipment involved, the working conditions and the challenges of working on the water and carrying out construction work, it’s a very specialised industry. You need key people with a long history of understanding the marine environment and the changing conditions, and with a passion for the work, because it is a truly challenging and exciting environment.”

It’s not all ‘messing about in boats’, exactly, but Maritime staff do tend to exhibit an affinity with the ocean. “Yes, there is a degree of ‘love of the sea’. It’s not all happy sailing but there is an underlying passion from people who work in and around the ocean – coupled with respect for the water. An understanding of how the marine environment can react is vital to safety and ensuring our staff are not put at risk.”

Maritime boasts of its design-and-construct expertise but business is “a real mix. We have been successful in a number of design-and-construct contracts in the last 12 months and that’s something we have worked hard towards, but a lot of our work is for state and local governments, which is often ‘construct-only’. But we do pride ourselves on being a very innovative contractor that can have a large degree of input into a smart design in order to create constructability and value for money for clients.”

Maritime does supply “some support services and operations to much larger contractors in the oil and gas industries but our primary focus is traditional marine infrastructure work. However,” adds Simon, “there are exciting oil and gas projects around Australia, like Gorgon or Gladstone and so forth; they are certainly exciting and there is room on those projects for a contractor like us. We are glad to see such projects happening around Australia.”

The company has an extensive fleet of vehicles that is “predominantly for our own use. It’s mainly very specialised, but there are some pieces we can hire out – simple barges etc. But 90 percent of our fleet is for our internal use. We are a builder and constructor, not a hire company as such.”

In general, Maritime is going places and pleased about it. “We’re very good – happy and excited and all is well.” Jobs come from all round Australia – including one about as far as you can get from Adelaide in ‘Western Australia’s northernmost town’, Wyndham, where the company is working for East Kimberley shire on the Anton’s Landing project – and Simon does not rule out working even further afield.

Maritime’s business is “based on core values of integrity and honesty, with a partnering approach to our clients, respect for our employees, providing a healthy and safe environment for them to work in, training and upskilling to give opportunities for our people to advance. We are excited about the future. The industry Australia-wide has a very bright future and we are looking to add as much value as possible.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:44 AM AEDT