Roy Millar | Ardmac | Performing for Clients and Growing Business

Roy Millar, Managing Director of Ardmac talks to us about the company’s recent appointments, impressive growth and performance, what is required in delivering Ireland 2040, and encouraging people to enter construction.

Ardmac is an International construction specialist delivering complex high-value workspaces and technical environments. Working with leading multinationals has made Ardmac world-class and enabled the company to expand across sectors and territories. Employing 289, with headquarters in Ireland and regional offices in the UK and Belgium, their turnover in 2017 was €107m, with a target of €147m for 2018, which they are well on their way to achieving.

While not at liberty to discuss the data centre or pharma projects they are working on, mentioning some other recent projects Managing Director Roy Millar says: “We have completed fit-out projects for Genomics Medicine in Dublin and Zenith Vehicle Solutions in Leeds and are working on significant projects at 101 Barbirolli Square in Manchester, Dunnes in Cork and starting the refurbishment of Joshua House on Dawson St for Nuritas.” Ardmac are currently recruiting for all disciplines and have forecasted numbers employed to be circa 340 by the end of 2018.

Recent Appointments

Ardmac are approaching the third anniversary of their MBO and have found the transition to be seamless. “Our structure was more functional but we have been moving towards fully independent operational business units,” Roy says. “We appointed Andrew Winstanley as MD of UK Interiors two years ago and to complete the transition, Alan Coakley will be MD of our Main Contracting business in Ireland and I will have responsibility for our Trade Contracting business, primarily pharma and data centres, as MD, from April. This will allow us to facilitate the growth we forecast and ensure we remain fully focused on our sectors. In addition to business leadership changes, we have also strengthened our functional teams in the past twelve months with the appointment of Ian Madden as Group Finance Director, Yvonne O’Sullivan as Head of Talent and Development and Enda Murphy as Head of Engineering.”

Performing Well and Growing

“We are seeing construction output continuing to grow and all the sectors we are operating in are performing very well,” Roy tells us. “The pharma and data centre projects continue to grow strongly; our fit-out business serving the commercial, retail and industrial sectors in Ireland & the UK has a strong pipeline and our Design & Build business in Ireland to the medical device sector has been consistent for many years. Our track record is one we are proud of but none of it would be possible without having great people on our journey with us.”

Ardmac’s geographic reach has grown in the last few years as they continue to follow their clients. “Outside of Ireland and the UK, we are operating in Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland and are considering projects in three other European locations in the coming year,” he says. “Understanding the value of repeat business and the building of long-term relationships continues to be key to our success today.”

Speaking of the future, Roy tells us Ardmac are very positive and excited about the business, on many fronts. “We are forecasting significant growth; we continue to invest in new technology having just rolled out a new ERP system and are introducing new project collaboration tools,” he says. “We have increased our focus on training our staff, who we continue to nurture and develop to support our growing business. Our pharma and data centre clients are providing us with opportunities to travel with them and this brings added world-class experience for us as a team. Overall, there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to enjoy at Ardmac.”

Delivering Ireland 2040

Speaking about Ireland 2040, Roy believes addressing the skills shortage will be vital not only to deliver on future plans but to ensure the long-term sustainability of the construction sector. “We all need to do more to promote our industry, particularly demonstrating to young people the opportunities and the career paths that can take you anywhere in the world” he states. “The significant advancement in the adoption of technology in all areas of construction is making it a more modern industry to work in and attractive to many who would not have considered construction.”

Project Ireland 2040 gives the sector added confidence, but Roy says the planning and public-sector procurement timeframes cannot delay the plans for years, to the point where this initiative is forgotten. For to deliver Foreign Direct Investment to Ireland in line with the Ireland 2040 plan, Roy believes we need to develop our infrastructure to support FDI. Ireland continues to be hugely successful in attracting foreign investment and needs to be ready to support with the infrastructure and housing that is much needed. “With Brexit still on the horizon,” he explains “we have an opportunity to become a European Hub for multinational business but need the infrastructure and housing. Relationships are also critical and as leaders, we need to support and continue to fly the flag internationally to attract FDI to Ireland.”

Delivering Greater Value to Clients with BIM, Lean, IPD

Ardmac have been using 3D design software from as early as 2006 but it was in 2011 they began to use BIM effectively. They have recently begun to look at 4D simulations, mixing Microsoft Project schedules with Navisworks Manage to sequence works in congested areas. Active in Lean Construction Ireland, Ardmac have been implementing Lean Construction practices for some time and have frequently found there to be a crossover between both, as well as enabling them to work smarter and increase collaboration as a team, top to bottom.

“Our commitment to our clients has always been to provide the best service and solution in a timely, cost-efficient and sustainable manner, which in turn pushes us to be innovative and use the latest technology available,” Roy explains, saying: “Once an organisation has that commitment of putting their activities and development for the good of the customer, that’s when we all become more efficient and deliver greater value.”

Ardmac have developed Last Planner to suit their business needs and will be rolling it out to all projects in 2018, as well as continuing to invest in Lean Ways of Working for all work streams and the advancement of BIM. Roy tells us that it is also encouraging to see clients adopt different delivery models, an example being IPD. “Integrated Project Delivery provides early collaboration of design, engineering, and construction specialists by harnessing the talents and insights of all participants, with responsibilities shared between the team members which means that risk and rewards are also shared,” Roy explains. “We are working on two IPD projects and by having shared goals and working as a team, we can see schedule durations being reduced and improvements to the Commercial, Safety and Quality aspects of the projects. Bringing greater value brings greater reward.”

Encouraging Women in Construction

A significant amount of work has been done to support women entering the industry. Roy says there is more still to do. “We support the CIF’s Building Equality movement and are proud of the percentage of women that continue to join us from site level to head office,” he tells us. “There are many aspects of our business where we are seeing an increase in representation by women which historically may not have been the case, for example; across Quantity Surveying, Engineering and Design roles and while we still have the more traditional office support roles, we welcome diversity across our business as a whole. More can always be done to improve gender balance but we are making positive strides.”

Encouraging Young People to Join Construction

Like many who follow their parents, Roy followed his father who worked in construction all his life. “When I completed my degree at the University of Ulster, I worked for a fit-out contractor for 5 years and went on to join Ardmac in 1994 – so I have been here a long time!” he states. “I have worked in various roles during that time; running different parts of the business, initially in the UK, then Ireland and in the last 10 years at group level.” He encourages young people to consider construction as a career. “I would always encourage young people to join the industry,” he says. “The industry has been challenged to modernise and adopt new construction methods – more efficient use of resources, more collaborative delivery models, greater use of technology – all of which are making significant advancements.”

“The industry offers many career opportunities and with the demand for skilled staff, the ability to advance your career quickly is possible,” he concludes telling us positively. “It also gives the opportunity to be part of creating something built to last. There are ample opportunities to travel, be rewarded well and have a fulfilling career in construction. At Ardmac, we are always looking for those interested in a great career in the industry to join us in Building Better.”

The content of this site is subject to copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior consent of the publishers. The views expressed in articles do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. This article first appeared in the ‘Leaders in Construction’ issue of Irish building magazine June 2018.