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Civil engineering contractors should be rightly proud of their efforts

Modern construction is built on the capacity of contractors to compete, to grow and to innovate in all they do, says CECA chairman Peter Andrews

Construction has always been more about substance than spin. Ours may not be a sector with sex appeal, but no other industry physically shapes the world in which we live to the same extent and few others create such a tangible and enduring product. Our biggest contribution should be measured in terms of quality of life, our strongest statement is the quality of our work.

We can have confidence in the meaning of those words because it is we contractors ourselves who provide the weight behind them. The strength of our sector is founded upon the quality of the companies that comprise it. More specifically, I believe it is the character and quality of our people that makes that possible.

Modern construction is built on the capacity of contractors to compete, to grow and to innovate in all they do. Collective effort, from site level to boardroom, makes this happen, an effort demanding the best in business planning, in management, in design, in development and in all areas of operation. For this we depend on our people. We are a people industry.

In this Contractors File you’ll find examples of the best among our members drawn from the biggest to the smallest across the sector. Those contractors at the top of their game will have common features, namely the quality of their management, business planning and operational ability. In short the quality of their people. Those contractors who invest in their staff, who develop their skills and bring out their talents, not just at management level but throughout their company, are investing in their own future.

Leadership is the element that can never be substituted in this. Setting a strong example can shape the culture of a company and will demonstrate the value the organisation places on improvement.
Naturally, not all of us think we have the time to spend on improving our skills. A manager, particularly in a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), may have strong inclination to get on with the job. We are right to value working hard, but we should also value working “smart”.

Time spent learning new skills is never time wasted, which is why CECA has pioneered a course for SME managers to develop their leadership ability. We know the difference that leadership can make in that context and the mission to get that message across is going to be rewarding for the industry.

Just as contractors shape the built environment, I believe CECA shapes contracting. A healthy management culture and a competitive nature is vital for a vibrant sector. After all, the SMEs of today can grow into the Balfour Beattys and Costains of tomorrow if they have they right conditions to do so.

Peter Andrews is CECA Chairman

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