The fam­ily way

– In­fra­struc­ture is nec­es­sary for the growth of any com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to Mcil­wain man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Keith Mcil­wain it is vi­tal for em­ploy­ing the un­em­ployed, bring­ing com­mu­ni­ties into fo­cus and ful­fill­ing so­cial and en­virn­men­tal obli­ga­tions. Un­der famil

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The McIl­wain busi­ness has a long his­tory. It be­gan in 1928 at Urunga on the mid north coast of NSW, when seven-year-old Arthur, his fam­ily, three horses and a dray joined Arthur’s grand­fa­ther build­ing roads at Yar­rawich. Arthur served in the army dur­ing World War 2, but once the war was over, he re­sumed with the fam­ily busi­ness. He bought his first truck in 1946 and recom­menced road work with his fa­ther in the Gold Coast Hin­ter­land and Nu­min­bah Val­ley. By 1961, he had sev­eral trucks and pur­chased his first bull­dozer to aug­ment the con­tract cartage busi­ness. The com­pany grew dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s and com­prised a plant hire fleet of four bull­doz­ers and drotts, trucks, rollers and a grader.

Arthur’s son Neal joined in 1974 and worked his way up through the com­pany to the po­si­tion of con­struc­tion man­ager, mean­while Keith, who had forged his own ca­reer as an en­gi­neer de­cided to get his hands dirty and in 1984 joined the busi­ness as gen­eral man­ager. From there the com­pany re­fo­cused from plant hire to civil con­tract­ing.

Keith has been guid­ing the di­rec­tion of the busi­ness ever since, with one ma­jor mile­stone oc­cur­ring in 1991 when Arhtur re­tired and McIl­wain Civil En­gi­neer­ing Pty Ltd was formed.

McIl­wain is now in the hands of a fourth gen­er­a­tion of fam­ily mem­ber with Neal’s son Tim tak­ing on a di­rec­tor­ship in 2009 af­ter serv­ing for 10 years as a project man­ager and en­gi­neer.

Fam­ily is im­por­tant to the McIl­wains and Keith be­lieves it is one of the ma­jor strengths of the com­pany and a large part of McIl­wain Civil’s suc­cess. He says that all mem­bers of staff are treated as if they were mem­bers of the fam­ily.

“I think what drives me per­son­ally is see­ing and hope­fully as­sist­ing people to ful­fil their po­ten­tial,” Keith says.

“I was very for­tu­nate to have been men­tored by some very clever and very com­mit­ted en­gi­neers at a very young age and that ex­pe­ri­ence is al­ways at the fore­front of my ap­proach to how we skill and de­velop people.”

Keith has over 35 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the Civil En­gi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion In­dus­try in De­sign, Su­per­vi­sion and Con­struc­tion of civil en­gi­neer­ing projects rang­ing from res­i­den­tial, commercial and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ments to ma­jor road in­fra­struc­ture projects.

His knowl­edge base is vast and he can lead by ex­am­ple. Though, in his own hum­ble way, he ques­tions his lead­er­ship abil­i­ties.

“As a leader I have some short­com­ings that I find frus­trat­ing at times. I think one has to at all times be pre­pared to ac­knowl­edge that you are not al­ways

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