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For Ferrycarrig Civil Contracting, building society’s infrastructure is a labour of love

ferrycarrig, the venture magazine


The way Ferrycarrig Civil Contracting view their role as experts in civil construction, project management, and maintenance goes to the very centre of their Wexford roots of integrity, service, and connection. Their stated purpose: “to provide a place for people to flourish and to improve the quality of life for the communities that we support.”

Established in 2016, the Sydney-area firm provides complete end-to-end solutions in civil construction, which focus on in-ground water, drainage and sewer, and comprehensive in-ground power and communications projects, combined with the civil structures associated with the above, such as pits, chambers, substations, manholes, etc. Their unique selling point is that they have a very strong ability to apply all of this in heavily congested, technically difficult urban site conditions. Their clients include a host of Australia’s major construction contractors, infrastructure stakeholders, and developers for some of the country’s most critical projects.

Recent efforts include contributing to the in-ground power and communications, gas, drainage, and stormwater installations at points throughout the Sydney Light Rail project, Sydney Metro, Northwest Growth Centre, Westconnex (M4/M5), and we are about to commence on projects such as Western Sydney Airport and new Westconnex project, to name a few.

“When the business first began, we were trying to find that 1-millimetre niche that we could go a mile deep in,” Director Micheal O’Keeffe said. “In 2016, the Sydney Light Rail Project commenced, and it presented a huge opportunity for us to understand where we could add value in the civil market in Sydney.” Each of the firm’s three directors (O’Keeffe, Kieran Cowman, and Jason Finn) brought different skill sets to the fore, providing an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise in all angles of the business: efficient operations, commercial engagement, safety culture, and scalability. “From all of our past experience combined, we knew we had the skills present to develop a solid business in the market. We have a really skilled workforce and it was all about us creating an environment for individuals to come in and flourish,” O’Keeffe said.

Whilst Ferrycarrig’s workforce is a diverse mix of Irish, Australian, and other nationalities, there is a definite Irish sensibility brought to the way they work, with a bedrock commitment to efficiency, safety, quality, and cost management forming a culture of consistent high performance and connection to the work at hand.

ferrycarrig, the venture magazine


Focussing on a project’s commercial aspects is also a foundational principle. “One commercial disaster on a project can have the ability to knock a company over in today’s market. It’s important for us to ensure that each project that we manage is looked after from a commercial perspective and that we mitigate against as many commercial risks as possible,” O’Keeffe stressed. “It’s also important for us to understand how we can run a sustainable business in this market. That comes back to the core principles of running a business, understanding what your strategy is and where the business is heading, executing successfully on that strategy, understanding the basic building blocks of what a business looks like in terms of cash flow, financial metrics, cost control, and so forth. Having ‘A’ players on your team, really good people that can effectively execute on the work, and that live the company’s core values is probably the most crucial one, and we are very thankful we have that.”

Specialising in civil construction and infrastructure requires close collaboration with government officials as well as private stakeholders, and Ferrycarrig brings a wellspring of strength to those endeavours. As O’Keeffe put it, “The bottom line here is at the end of the day we're dealing with people. For us, it's about going back to the basic principles of how we deal with people in the most effective way we know how. We invest in relationships by following through on the simple principles of dealing with people, like building rapport, helping stakeholders meet their needs, asking the right questions, and genuinely investing in relationships as much as we can with a genuine view of helping the other person out, whether that person is considered a stakeholder or even someone who's delivering a project for a client and could be on the ground working with us. The same principles apply across the board.”

Those strong relationships yield some challenging but impressive projects.

“There's loads of projects, and I think some of them have been really technically difficult, and some have been commercially sensitive. The reason we're most proud of them is that they give the business a little appreciation of living its core purpose, which is providing a place for people to flourish and improving the quality of life for the communities we support, and all of our projects facilitate that. One thing that supports that is how our workforce raises the bar on these projects. Our workforce is very good at executing and have a lot of pride in their work, and this has provided a great opportunity to support all of these projects. As a result, we've been able to contribute to the community's quality of life by seeing these through to completion.”

Heart and Hand

ferrycarrig, the venture magazine


Ferrycarrig’s core values are the company’s beating heart. “The first one is, we raise the bar,” O’Keeffe began, noting that taking pride in the work they do is integral to every single person in the company, regardless of role. Next comes investing in relationships and placing the needs of others above their own. “That’s how we engage with stakeholders, but it also applies to what happens in our work. At the end of the day, our workforce is on the front line, and it's important that they’re invested with our clients on the ground and the continuous feedback we receive suggests that this is consistently the case.”

He continued, “We want to make sure that every single person after every day at work goes home to what's important.” That's a crucial thing that is so important across the entire civil construction industry.” The core values are rounded out with “owning the baby,” taking personal ownership of each task on a project. “We play to win as one team’ means that everyone is perceived as an equal in the business and that it is important that everyone is heading in the same direction as a team. Finally, this one’s a little bit of a light-hearted but important value, is that we have fun. There's no point in creating an environment that's a bad environment to work in,” he affirmed.

As far as Ferrycarrig’s immediate future is concerned, O’Keeffe mused that the volume of opportunities on the horizon will be exciting to consider as the company moves forward into the future. “For the moment we're sharpening our sword and showing that we can deliver on our projects effectively,” he posited. “There is a lot of infrastructure spend out there, but I think for the moment we’ll probably just continue to become a little bit sharper in terms of what we're doing in the Sydney market.” Which is, to put it bluntly, very well indeed.