Australia's infrastructure is amazing, and so is one of the nation’s most forward-thinking civil contractors, Seymour Whyte.
Seymour Whyte is all about smarter partnerships built on trust—where their success comes from. It’s because of these partnerships that Seymour Whyte is confidently taking on some of the most challenging, complex projects and finding the most innovative and creative solutions for their clients.
Founded in 1987 by John Seymour and Garry Whyte, the firm has grown from a local Queensland builder primarily involved in road work to a multi-award-winning Tier 2 contractor with a national presence.
In serving the transport, water, social infrastructure, resources, and renewable energy markets, Seymour Whyte brings tremendous expertise to every undertaking. Their current purview includes the design, project management, and construction of smart motorways and intelligent transport systems, bridges, tunnels, airports, marine ports, dams, pipelines and stormwater management, urbanscaping, and much more.
Their leading roles in a number of successful, highly visible projects to modernise the M1 Pacific and Bruce highways along Australia’s eastern seaboard between Sydney and Cairns; ground access improvements to Sydney Airport; and with nimble agility to innovate for clients garnered attention of global construction and concessions powerhouse, VINCI, which acquired Seymour Whyte in 2017.
The company recently completed one of its largest contracts to date, a $600 million highway upgrade. “It was a great quality product centred on a smart operation excellence framework to deliver the full construction spectrum from early works, major earthworks, multiple bridges, and highway pavements across 45 km in varied geological conditions.”
Rightly, the company takes tremendous pride in their progressive approaches to everything they do. Take their use of technology, for starters. Building information modelling (BIM) is ‘de rigueur’ or customary in commercial and residential construction, but not a top line investment for most Australian infrastructure firms. Seymour Whyte is changing that.
“Civil work is more spread out over distance and lots of civil companies haven't seen the benefits of being able to layer the aspects of what they're building,” MacDonald explained.
“We’ve invested significantly in new technology and we’ve been realising the benefits on our projects. It’s simple: Our teams are empowered to relentlessly look for smarter ways to positively influence our clients and their projects.
“With BIM, we can see our work in three dimensions, see where utility lines are, and map everything out. We can plan bridge construction work in 3D and put it together in a time lapse to get a feel for it. The software has developed rapidly over the last few years, and the applications are just amazing. We're not quite at high-rise building standard for BIM, but from a civil construction point of view, we certainly are leading the way in Australia.”
Drone technology has been another worthwhile investment.
“The technological advancements we’ve made in the past few years have been incredible,” he continued.
Drones have replaced the need for LIDAR, aerial inspection by plane and chopper, and onsite human surveyors.
“We're using drone technology for surveying on the ground, and in the engineering, planning, and methodologies. Now we can navigate a project in real time using technology. We've invested heavily in that, and in our game it's very important to be on the cutting edge of that technology.”
Their approach to collaboration is equally forward focused.
“We pride ourselves on smarter partnerships—a collaborative approach with our clients, joint venture partners, suppliers, and employees. We are very open and transparent with our clients,” he said.
“Community engagement and stakeholder management, central to infrastructure development and delivery, are key to our partnerships to build both relationships and reputation. We strive to promote a respectful and inclusive culture through engagement—to create a positive experience for everyone in contact with us—to ensure that our business remains acceptable and sustainable in the long term.
“Safety, sustainability, and environmental management are very important in our business; and we’ve built a really good culture over the past few years.
“Put simply, we have a great team and a culture of working well with everyone consistently—be it at tendering, design, or project delivery. Our clients know what they're getting when they engage Seymour Whyte.”
“We look at sustainability not just in the environmental sense of the word, but as a way to build a profitable business,” MacDonald stated.
“In construction these days everything is about doing things more efficiently, streamlining your operational performance, looking at technologies and innovations to make things more streamlined and more efficient, and that ultimately delivers a better bottom line.”
Of course, they dedicate significant resources and attention to the environmental aspects of every job, using renewable energy whenever possible, for one. But in addition to meeting the highest standards of environmental sustainability in their practices, and the aforementioned dedication to embrace meaningful technology, the sustainability of their workforce is paramount.
“For us, it's also about the sustainability of our people. They have opportunities to grow within our company structure to work on more complex, challenging projects, in new sectors and markets. Sustainability is about taking the opportunity to grow in the business to be a long-term employer.”
Another key initiative to an equitable construction industry is focusing on empowering under-represented groups within our industry, particularly women and First Nations People.
“We are trying to balance things better with female participation in what is traditionally a largely male-represented industry. We are working really hard to correct that balance. We have consistently achieved pay equity over the years at Seymour Whyte.
“We really work from a grassroots level to develop our people, for example, with women into leadership roles.
"Within our communities, we’re focused on partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in areas such as employment, education, empowerment, and economic development, and to enhance the cultural understanding of our non-Indigenous employees.
“We’ve established a culture that's a big part of retaining people. We know that people join Seymour Whyte because they’re looking for more from their professional growth and their personal connections. Our people mean more to us, do more with us, and have more involvement in building our world-class capability together. Put simply, we are a smarter way to more.” Amazing, indeed.