With 20 years working in a variety of roles for Laing O'Rourke, Chris Bailey is well placed to take on the challenge of further integrating operations across the Group.
Experience that includes time with our Australian railway sleeper manufacturing business Austrak, the Naturstein Vetter natural stone business in Germany and also in the Construction and Expanded divisions means he's equipped to build strong relationships between our manufacturing, logistics and project delivery businesses.
“I can talk to people in each of those areas about the challenges they have in their jobs because I’ve been there myself, ” he says.
The remit of his latest task encompasses the Explore Manufacturing business, which includes Explore Industrial Park (EIP) and GRC UK. “This area of the business needs to challenge itself to really understand how it can support our engineering enterprise – the project delivery end of the business,” he says.
“On the one hand, it’s about servicing the construction and infrastructure divisions, working for internal customers in an integrated and joined-up way. But at the same time, we want to compete with similar manufacturing businesses in these respective markets.”
Developing the business model
EIP is currently focused on internal customers; however, Chris sees that changing over time. “I think there’s an increasing desire that EIP also sells more of its products externally. But it’s got to be done strategically and be considered very carefully.”
Chris can draw on experience with Austrak to help deliver such a change. “Australia's geography makes a vertically integrated supply chain, like the one we have in the UK, very difficult,” he says.
“Our operations in Australia are up to eight hours of flying time apart, so it is very different from the approach we have here, where a small number of manufacturing hubs deliver product in an integrated way to projects all over the UK.
“At Austrak, 98% of products were supplied to external clients, so the focus was on managing our own client relationships and negotiations, and carrying out our own innovation,” he says. “Here, we’re part of a large group and the client-facing aspect is often led by other parts of the business. But the manufacturing element still works closely with logistics because they both deliver products to Laing O’Rourke sites.”
Chris is a big believer in one-team working – with the Group’s constituent parts coming together to encourage a truly integrated project delivery programme.
“We have to ensure that more parts of the business are working together as early as possible, and that key decisions are taken by the right people at the right times, using the right processes. We need to be involved from the earliest stages so that we can support the design, pricing and programming element – at a point where there is potential to positively influence it.”