Formed in 1999, New Century Engineering Ltd (NCE) provides utilities and civil engineering solutions to a wide range of public and private clients throughout Ireland and the UK.
From humble beginnings, the company has established itself as the leading utilities specialists in Ireland, delivering all aspects of civil engineering for electricity, telecoms, fibre-optic, gas, water and drainage projects.
New Century’s unique service offering in this sector is built on the foundations of a lifetime of knowledge and experience within the utilities sector, or to be more accurate, two lifetimes. Managing Director Paul Montgomery and Operations Director Leo McGinley both started their careers at the sharp end, in a journey which has taken them from the trenches to the boardroom.
Perhaps it was the grit and determination that’s required to get you through the dark, freezing cold winter mornings, with jack hammer in hand, that provided the spirit, durability and resilience to survive the crash of 2008, and to come out the other end, still intact.
“Looking back now, whilst it was an extremely difficult time for everybody, we had the comfort of framework agreements with ESB and UCD, which provided the bedrock for survival, and along with a small core of valued clients such as Walls, Sisk, JPC & BAM, we were able to ride out those tough times,” Leo recalls.
Since then, NCE has gone from strength to strength and developed a combination of high level engineering, project management and commercial expertise, which have been complementary to their pre-existing technical knowledge and experience. One such appointment was that of Berian Davies as Commercial Manager.
“We recognise that for many major construction companies, the elements of the project which are essentially ‘outside the hoardings’ are relatively low in the list of priorities and don’t always get the attention required until projects are coming towards completion,” Berian says.
“It’s also an area in which most construction professionals have little experience. The result is that connections to the existing utilities infrastructure can suddenly become critical. Outside the hoardings is NCE’s territory.”
NCE has a long established and proven track record of overcoming such challenges to ensure that projects are successfully delivered on time and within budget, hence solving problems is simply part of the service.
Berian continues: “Along with the more obvious day-to-day challenges which come with any typical construction project, many utilities projects present a myriad of additional, far less obvious, challenges, which are frequently invisible to the untrained eye. A key part of our preparation is seeking to anticipate potential unforeseen problems and then help our client to mitigate against the risks.
“Further complexities arise from the necessity of interfacing, and accommodating the needs of a multitude of different stakeholders, ranging from all aspects of local community to the intricacies of navigating a path through, and managing the, often competing, demands of multiple different departments within the local authorities and the various utilities companies.”
“We’re essentially a solutions-focussed business. That approach is based on years of experience and deep-rooted relationships across all the stakeholder groups. Gaining trust and respect can only come from consistently delivering on your commitments. Moreover, we see it as our responsibility to ensure that during the course of any project, our clients’ reputation is not only protected, but enhanced via a process of meticulous planning and communication. This approach manifests itself via the presentation and quality of our site set-up and ongoing works, the minimisation of disruption, a pro-active and timely interface with all stakeholders, all underscored with giving back to the local community in line with our corporate social responsibility policy.”
NCE prides itself on being able to produce solutions specifically tailored to meet clients’ individual requirements and identify and mitigate any challenges from the outset.
“Our solutions are practical, deliverable and cost effective. We seek to take the hassle factor out of the equation for the client. Perhaps we didn’t realise it at the time, but in hindsight, we were ‘value engineering’ long before we ever heard the term!” Berian explains.
Paul Montgomery notes how honesty and integrity are key to the culture of the firm: “The directors hold strongly to this ethos; it is inherent in everything we do and it’s what we expect and demand from all our employees.
“We feel that it’s important to make best endeavours to ensure we brief our clients with a realistic and comprehensive assessment of what we can foresee, as well as any potential issues that our experience allows us to anticipate, on any given project, in terms of engineering and logistical considerations. This ensures that clients fully understand the challenges which may be faced, along with providing a comprehensive assessment of cost, as early as possible.
“We recognise that providing an honest assessment of true cost has meant that occasionally we’ve lost out on potential business, since some clients will seek, what initially appears to be a cheaper alternative. Whilst that’s obviously disappointing at the time, we’ll remain true to our principles, and trust that clients who are ready to differentiate between ‘cheap’ and ‘value-for-money’ will continue to reward us with their business”.
Berian Davies agrees: “I suspect many clients would be pleasantly surprised by the extent of the potential savings that can be made simply by engaging with NCE early in the design stage. Within the market, there’s seems to be a growing consensus that the ‘cheaper option’ isn’t the answer, and that more often than not, the seemingly cheap option results in projects running over time and over budget, often as a result of works having to be re-visited and a neverending snagging list.
“The old adage ‘you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get’ is as true today as it has always been. Clients are becoming increasingly aware that the earlier they involve us in the project planning and design process, the more value we can add. Our knowledge and experience allow us to identify the challenges at an early stage, hence to come up with most cost-effective strategies for overcoming them well in advance.”
Major trenching, ducting and joint bay infrastructure projects have continued to form the bedrock of the business. One such project is the current 110kv twin circuit construction from Airton to Inchicore in Dublin. Spanning a route length approximately 6.5km, this project comprises multiple engineering challenges, including temporary damming and open cut trenching through the Grand Canal, directionally drilling under the M50, Longmile Road, Naas Road and Camac River.
Leo McGinley comments: “A project of this scope and scale provides exactly the type of opportunity which allows NCE to demonstrate our full range of design, engineering, project management, logistical and multiple stakeholder interface skills.”
He also notes that each project can be a learning experience: “No matter how successful any project has been previously, and no matter how satisfied the client, we take the view that ‘complacency is the enemy of improvement’. Therefore, we’ll always remain our own biggest critics. At the end of every project we’ll carry out a full review, as part of an ongoing process of learning, e.g., in hindsight, were there any elements of the project to which we could have adopted a more effective or efficient approach, and what measures do we need to take to ensure that performance on our next project is even better than the previous one.”
This constant striving for improvement comprises all aspects of the business, with a particular focus on industry best practice. Leo is a strong advocate of new technologies, particularly when it comes to environmental matters.
“The industry faces new and emerging challenges, and we want to play our part in achieving the highest possible levels of sustainability in order to minimise wastage and significantly reduce our carbon footprint year-on-year. For NCE, it’s all about keeping abreast of industry best practice, and then aiming to set new and even higher standards,” he says.
Looking to the future, Paul Montgomery says NCE have already put plans in place for further growth.
“As part of a re-structuring of the business, we’ve appointed Berian Davies as the new Managing Director. We were delighted when Berian agreed to join us as Commercial Manager at the beginning of the 2017 and we knew all about his high calibre credentials then. Even so, since joining the team, and in typical NCE fashion, he’s still managed to exceed expectations, and is thoroughly deserving of his new role,” says Paul. Further, high-level managerial appointments will be announced throughout 2018. Amongst other changes, the re-structure will see Paul and Leo assuming the roles of Chairman and Chief Operations Officer
2017 has been a successful year for the Swords-based firm, and 2018 promises to be even better with several major long-term projects already secured.
Berian concludes by saying: “Whilst we’re excited about the future, and are confident in our ability to outperform our competitors, ultimately, we’ll be judged by our clients, i.e. did we deliver what we said we would, in the manner in which we promised, and would the client be happy to work with us again, or provide us with a testimonial. As long as the answer to these questions continues to be ‘Yes’, then that will be good to hear and we’ll know that we’ve done our job properly.
“That said, we’ll continue to strive for improvement… it’s just the New Century way.”
New Century Engineering Ltd (NCE)
Swords Enterprise Park,
Telephone: 01 8408804
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, February 2018, Vol 4 No 2