As one of the country’s leading General Contractors, JJ Rhatigan & Company has been building projects across all sectors including Commercial, Residential, Hotel & Leisure, Industrial, Education and Healthcare for over 60 years.
The firm’s portfolio ranges from Traditional Building Contracts of new builds, fit-outs and renovations, to the Design and Build of large-scale landmark developments. With offices in Galway, Dublin, Cork, Sligo and London, JJ Rhatigan & Company has a strong presence nationwide and in the UK. The firm’s motto to “set standards” in the industry through the speed and quality of their construction has seen them win significant contracts over the last number of years. More recently, the firm announced that as part of the Prime-Balfour Beatty Consortium, they have been awarded the contract to build 14 Primary Care Centres around the country, the first programme of its kind in the Irish primary care market.
Managing Director, Padraic Rhatigan has been leading JJ Rhatigan & Company since 1982. Expansion into new markets and new offices throughout Ireland and the UK followed his appointment. “Despite the recession, we’ve continued to deliver projects of consistently high value. We need to set our expectations at a level that is sustainable and not just for short-term gain. That way we will insulate ourselves from the next recession that will surely happen.” Padraic currently sees a steady level of growth in the market. “I think that growth needs to be sustainable and practical. We need to ensure industry expectations are realistic. Firms who have taken a hit over the last number of years are not going to simply bounce back overnight.” Current projects the firm is undertaking include Kevin Street Garda Station in Dublin, NUI Maynooth Student Accommodation, UCC Beaufort Maritime and Energy Research Laboratory Building in Cork, Wyckham Point Apartments in Dublin, as well as the NDFA Schools Bundles 1 and 3. “We also have a number of projects in London. The ethos of the company at the moment is all about building upwards and onwards from where we are now. The effects of the recession haven’t been lost on us; we’re keen to build on the reputation we have and continue to deliver cost-effective, high quality projects for our clients.”
Ger Ronayne is Regional Director of JJ Rhatigan & Company with responsibility for operations in the West, Midlands and North West Regions and the UK. He believes the industry is picking up, particularly in the East of the country. “We would see the Dublin economy as being different to the West of Ireland where work is still relatively scarce on the ground. There is some work coming on stream in Cork, but the Galway region is a little slower to pick up. The recent announcement by Apple to open a new data centre in Athenry is a welcome boost to the West”. A severe reduction in work during the downturn saw the firm taking the hard decision to downsize. “It was difficult but it was a decision that needed to be taken. We reduced our overheads, our cost base and our salaries. We reviewed all our operations right across the business and wherever we felt there were things that could be done better, we changed those practices.” Out of the downturn, the firm has become leaner and has refocused its energies in a more efficient and effective way. “Now we make use of new technologies like BIM in how we build a project.” The firm also introduced a Document Management System which has helped increase project efficiency and accountability. “We’ve used the lull of the recession to restructure and make ourselves more solid. We’ve all undertaken a certain amount of retraining to enhance our skills and knowledge base.”
A commitment to education and to ensuring the next generation of construction professionals receive the highest quality training has seen the firm forge strong links with several Third Level Institutions including GMIT, Athlone IT and Queens University. “We employ a lot of graduates, firstly through work placements during college and again once they finish. It’s an excellent way for us to train people to the high standard we require and is beneficial to the industry as a whole.”
The firm is back up to a healthy 275 direct employees with over 1,000 others working for Subcontractors on our sites. “We’re actually bigger now than before the recession. We’re finding that the industry has moved on; previously there were a lot of Traditional Contracts but now a significant number of opportunities are Design and Build. From the Contractor’s point of view, that requires bigger teams. So we’ve moved a lot of our focus into the Design and Build market.”
Ger believes the Irish Construction Industry is still extremely competitive. “It’s still very hard to win tenders and we need to ensure we have a solid, experienced team in place to deliver projects to the highest quality standards.” The firm is constantly looking for the right people to join the team. “We like to keep an eye out for good, high calibre people that are at the top of the industry, for all disciplines at all levels, from graduates up to Senior Contracts Managers and Commercial Managers.”
Paul Carty is Regional Director at JJ Rhatigan & Company with responsibility for operations in the Dublin and Leinster Regions. He believes that while the upturn is good news for a battered industry, “figures relating to growth are still relatively small”. Paul noted that “overall growth in the Construction sector is projected in the region of 5% to 6% of GNP and a substantial portion of this work is centred in the Greater Dublin area with a limited regional distribution countrywide. Most levels of construction activity have remained steady with particular growth in the Residential and Commercial sectors. These levels of growth are encouraging and ultimately we need to find a sustainable growth trajectory.”
JJ Rhatigan & Company has always had a substantial portfolio of work within the Residential sector and the firm is projecting further growth in this area, particularly in the Dublin region. “We have some substantial Residential projects currently under construction for Hibernia REIT and NAMA. We have recently, in 2013 and 2014, successfully completed other Residential projects for NAMA. We note continued and substantial tender activity for other similar projects in this sector including Third Level Student Accommodation.” The increased activity in the Residential sector has attracted the re-entry to the market of the traditional house builders. Recent additions to the Building Standards in relation to housing and Part L requirements have increased the cost of residential units. Paul believes the industry is a couple of years away from trading in normal building conditions. Nevertheless the outlook is positive. “Construction cost increases have been modest over the past few years in the range of 3% and Tender Prices have also been slowly recovering. The Construction sector needs to continue to increase the overall volume of work to create and maintain confidence in the sector and ultimately attract people to invest and work in the industry.”
JJ Rhatigan & Company remains positive about the outlook of the industry. Paul notes “the level of repeat business we continue to get is testament to the relationships and trust we have built with our clients and this has stood to us over the last number of years. This coupled with the quality and dedication of our people has been paramount to our growth in recent times. We continue to invest in our people, upskilling where necessary, to ensure we deliver high quality, sustainable building solutions for all our clients.”