Ensuring great outcomes is just one way Wormall Civil stands out from the crowd
At this very moment, the company Ray and Sue Wormall founded in 1984 is changing the landscape of Western Australia. As the first land development civil contractor to achieve QA accreditation in the state, Wormall Contracting raised the bar for the industry, and the company it has become, Wormall Civil, continues to make a difference in their 35th consecutive year of operation.
Based in Cardup, on the outskirts of Perth, Wormall Civil is an industry-leading civil construction engineering company backed by a strong and stable management team with extensive below ground, at surface, and ground-up experience. Their committed team of qualified civil engineering and project management professionals and dedicated field staff work in concert to bring their clients the precise engineering outcomes they require.
“We've transitioned primarily from being an underground services installation company into a main contractor, and that transition commenced in early 2000s,” explained Shane Wormall, the firm’s managing director. “From there, we have seen the company become one of the leading West Australian civil engineering construction companies primarily in the residential and Industrial Land Development sectors.”
In the spirit of a family firm, Shane, brother Craig, and sister Carly have all worked for the company at one time or another. One can easily surmise that the level of cooperation and communication needed to build such a successful enterprise — particularly in an industry sector that requires close collaboration with multiple stakeholders — began at home.
“It applies to any aspect of our lives,” he concurred. “In any relationship and in any business it’s all about communication and integrity. From there we build trust.”
Once they enter into a contract with a client and their associates, the Wormall team works in partnership to become a formidable force in construction and development, working together to deliver a project and outcomes.
“At the end of the day we're all working for the same outcomes, and working together only enhances them.”
Developing the wide brown land
LandCorp recently awarded a pair of major civil contracts to Wormall Civil for the development of Peel Business Park, part of the Transform Peel initiative. As one of the fastest growing areas in the country, the effort is designed to bring over 2,000 local jobs, and to infuse the state’s economy with an estimated $1 billion annually.
“The Peel region is known for having fewer opportunities for employment, so this is a big initiative by the government to develop a very large industrial and business hub in the area,” Wormall said. When all stages are completed, there will be five interconnected and sustainable precincts supporting Peel’s new agri-innovation, commercial, light industrial, and general industrial enterprises.
The effort ties in with the company’s progression as a leading developer of residential subdivisions across the state. Their work on the largest urban redevelopment ever undertaken on the Western Australian coast is ongoing. The 106-plus hectare undertaking will eventually be home to 12,000 residents, a new school, and business and entertainment districts, and will take up to 20 years to complete.
“We presently do more residential developments in Perth than anybody else,” Wormall confirmed. “We are prepared to dare to be different. If there's an outcome that's going to benefit this business and our employees, from safety to profits to strategic positioning in the market or whatever it may be, we are prepared to stand by our convictions and be different from the rest of the pack.”
Clever diversification is the key to longevity
From building mining camp infrastructure when cycles permit, to envisioning new ways to be part of an industry that is responsible for 10 per cent of the country’s economy, Wormall dares to brave economic highs and lows with sustainable business approaches, which include developing innovative technology.
“When I came into the business many years ago, I was involved in some product development, at first in precast concrete products, but in a short time I developed an interest in and started developing some rotationally moulded polyethylene products,” Wormall revealed.
In 2005, he left the family business to start Smartstream Technology, a company devoted to creating a range of products for use in civil infrastructure. (He rejoined the firm in 2017.)
The firm’s signature product, designed by Wormall, is a patented polyethylene sewerage maintenance shaft that replaces full size concrete sewer access manholes. The technology has been adopted throughout the industry — even by Wormall Civil’s competitors.
Designed for use in sewer, stormwater, or subsoil drainage applications, the lightweight shaft eliminates the need for mechanical lifting equipment. Each unit is designed individually to meet the needs of the application. Corrosion, impact, and UV resistant, the cheekily named Poo Pit™ is a leap in safety, removing the need for human access into confined and toxic sewer access chambers.
There are over 100,000 Poo Pits in use in Australia, New Zealand, and Bali. “I’m very proud to say that in recent months we actually signed up a deal with a Canadian company to supply Canada and the US. We've put a lot of time and effort into a tremendous development for our industry.”
In an era where trust can be shaken to the core, Wormall keeps it steady
As one might expect, vendors and subcontractors are meticulously screened to meet the firm’s demanding requirements for superb quality and workmanship. The expertise of a new crop of suppliers and subcontractors is enriched by a group of close-knit partners who have worked and grown along with the company over three decades.
“We go through a preferred supplier database which is populated by suppliers and subcontractors who meet our standards,” Wormall said. “Because we're a 35-year-old company we have a lot of very long-standing relationships with our suppliers, and as we’ve all come from very small and humble beginnings, and a lot of these companies have been on the journey with us along the way.”
Operations Manager David Foord added, “I've been with the company for 25 years now, so I've seen a lot of them grow up with us, and it's not all just about price.
“While trust and communication help us to be competitive, it's just as important for us to be able to rely on them when we ask for changes in the program or quality requirements. There are some opportunities for new business starting at the tender process, and with new vendors we start off small, building that trust and building on their capabilities so we know they can do what we need them to do.”
Among the many firms accompanying Wormall Civil on their journey to success are ACH Haulage, MJB Industries, Merger Contracting, Bullseye Boring, Kerbing West, Pinnacle Builders, Smart Stream, Ghems, GSS Hire, Swan Hills Contracting, Vinidex, and Fuel Distributors.
The willingness to collaborate with their clients and their consultants to successfully deliver the outcomes they require makes Wormall Civil a terrific partner. “With our industry, from where a project starts, with changes that happen along the way, to where it ends up, there's probably going to be a lot of variation from the original contract. There needs to be flexibility and ability to be reasonable about the way we go about that, which we have,” he stressed. “We are very loyal, especially to our long-term suppliers and subcontractors. It’s in the history book — they know they will always get paid.”
That guarantee is a profound relief for those who depend on Wormall Civil for their livelihoods. At a time when several “too big to fail” builders across the country have collapsed, leaving an estimated $3 billion a year in unpaid debts that largely fall on the shoulders of subcontractors, the company’s staying power is a testament to fiscal responsibility and integrity.
“We have a very open senior management structure. The way we operate is to deliver the same outcome in the same quality and the same safety commitment as any of the biggest players, and to do that with a very open structure so we can be efficient at what we do.
“We have employees that came from other large companies, and they're just blown away that they can walk down to my office or Dave's office and ask questions any day of the week. That speeds up decision-making quite a lot,” he said. “Everybody at the senior management level has come from situations where we've had to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty. If we have an issue at any one of our projects — no matter how much we do or how big we are — I'll be at the site, or Dave will be at the site. Anyone who needs to be there to ensure that we make good on our promises will be right there.”