Sorensen Civil Engineering Ltd is a multi-disciplined construction company which has gone from strength to strength since its formation nearly 40 years ago. Indeed, it has grown to become a leader in the civil engineering sector.
The company was founded in Cork in 1977 by Olaf Sorenson, who began his professional life as a civil engineer working for a Limerick-based civil engineering contractor a few years earlier. In those formative years, Sorensen Civil Engineering successfully navigated its way through an economic recession as a mid-sized civil engineering contractor.
After that recession ended in the late 1980s, the company established itself as an efficient and reliable civil engineering contractor capable of carrying out a wide range of heavy civil engineering projects as main contractor. During the 1990s and 2000s, Sorensen developed into a multi-disciplined construction firm with a stand-alone building company within the group.
Initially, Sorensen worked on a number of water and wastewater projects as subcontractor as well as a number of pipeline and ducting subcontracts as part of road contracts. In the 1990s, the company constructed the second largest water tower in Ireland at the time in Cobh, and a second one in Fermoy. These were very prestigious projects for the firm. Sorensen procured a specialist formwork subcontractor from Austria who aided it in delivering landmark structures that remain today.
During the same period, Sorensen was responsible for several tunnelling projects, the largest of which was a tunnel under the River Shannon in Limerick city that was constructed using a tunnel boring machine. This was a very challenging project that was delivered safely, on time and within budget. The company developed an expertise in delivering high risk, complex, heavy civil engineering projects. It constructed a variety of pumping stations, WWTPs and WTPs in particularly restricted locations with poor ground conditions, utilising a range of temporary design solutions such as sheet piled cofferdams, complex dewatering systems and various piling options.
Sorensen has a proven track record which has resulted from sound financial principles and practical experience, coupled with technically adept and motivated staff. This has resulted in the same high degree of expertise, quality, safety and commitment across all projects undertaken, regardless of their scale or size. The Cork-based concern prides itself in its tradition of frequently providing innovative and progressive value engineering solutions to complex engineering challenges across a wide range of projects.
Retaining talented and highly capable long-serving staff through two recessions has been the key to Sorensen’s success and longevity. The sort of expertise and experience its staff possess has been lost in the wider industry to places like Australia and Canada, but Sorensen has been fortunate enough to hold onto many of theirs. Since the upturn in the economy, it has added to its staff by enlisting ex-pat project managers, quantity surveyors and administration staff who have returned home from the UK and further afield.
Central to Sorensen’s operation is a commitment to the core values of safety, quality and the environment. Its Integrated Quality Management System has achieved accreditation by the National Standards Association of Ireland to IS EN.ISO Quality 9001:2008, IS.EN Environment 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 Health & Safety. The company is constantly reinvesting in its plant fleet as well as in continuous training for all staff.
Sorensen Civil Engineering Ltd provides technical assistance at all stages of the project management process from concept, planning, design and budgeting through to construction and hand-over process. Going forward, it is fully committed to working with its clients and their professional teams to achieve optimal construction solutions and to deliver best value to the highest possible standards in safety, environment and quality.
In the aftermath of the economic downturn, the company focused mainly on the water and wastewater sector, securing a number of water services projects entailing a variety of challenging design and construction elements such as complex marine outfalls, tunnelling works and other trenchless technology solutions, expansive RC works, site developments works, building elements and street works.
Sorensen is vastly experienced at carryout projects administered under traditional contracts as well as Design & Build (DB), Design, Build Operate (DBO) and Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) involving collaboration with the client and various stake holders.
While providing a nationwide service, most of the company’s work is concentrated in Munster and the wider Dublin area. Sorenson is currently working on 10 different water treatment and wastewater treatment plant projects under Design, Build and Operate contracts located in Waterford, Kerry and Cork. It is also involved in delivering a number of specialist marine works at present which are particularly challenging, but equally rewarding.
Among the many prestigious jobs Sorensen has completed are: Farranfore N22 Upgrade – Road and Bridges; Corbally Link Road in Limerick – Roads and Bridges (Canal); Shannon River Tunnel as part of the wider Limerick Main Drainage for Limerick County Council; Cobh Water Tower; Fermoy Water Tower; Infrastructure works for ESB (with Alstom as the main contractor); Ballincollig WWTP; Waterville WTP and WWTP; Carrigtwohill WWTP. The company is currently working on a joint-venture with EPS on the Waterford Grouped Towns and Villages Sewerage Scheme project.
As a family-run, mid-sized, progressive construction company, Sorensen offers all of its clients a cost-effective, flexible, professional and personal service from an efficient, tightly-run organisation. It focuses heavily on value engineering opportunities on all projects which offer added value to clients. Repeat and referral business has been key to its growth and success. This is achieved by on-time delivery, attention to detail, delivery of quality and a collaborative approach to projects. Sorensen takes great pride from its non-confrontational approach to contracts and avails of every opportunity to agree disputes amicably and outside of the legal process. This is a huge factor in winning repeat work from clients.
Keeping abreast with the latest technology and training within the industry is taken very seriously by senior management. Sorensen is fully committed to offering continual professional development for all of its professional staff as well as training for all of its site-based operatives. The company invests heavily in its specialist plant fleet and believes that it’s equally as important to invest in the people operating the plant and equipment.
Sorenson’s two main components are its people and its plant.
The company employs 70 people at its various projects throughout Ireland, with 15 experienced staff based at its head office in Forge Hill, Cork. As already stated, Sorenson has been busy recruiting some excellent people at mid to senior management level since the economic upturn.
One such recruit is John Wallace, who joined Sorensen in 2014 as Operations Director after returning from working on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. The Limerick native has 20 years’ experience in the industry on a range of large-scale infrastructural and civil engineering projects, from motorway projects in both Ireland and Poland to a 45m3 waste facility landfill project. He is relishing the challenge of aiding with the business’ growth and diversification.
“There is a team of bright and highly-motivated people working with us, both at our head offices in Cork and throughout our projects,” he says.
The company is looking to the future with renewed optimism and is set to continue its growth by specialising in large-scale civil works such as water treatment and wastewater plants, water and wastewater network pipeline projects, marine works, road projects, landfill projects and strategic joint ventures.
Sorensen Civil Engineering Ltd,
Forge Hill Cross,
Taken from Building Ireland magazine, May/June 2016, Vol 2, No 2