Lay­ing solid foun­da­tions

The build­ing com­pany making its mark across PNG

Paradise - - Contents -

Rhodes is a pre-fab­ri­cated build­ings com­pany fo­cused on the Pa­pua New Guinea mar­ket. Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Emanuel Pa­pas, says the best way to de­scribe the com­pany is as a de­signer, sup­plier and provider of pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings.

“The ver­ti­cal in­te­gra­tion (of de­sign, sup­ply and de­liv­ery) al­lows us to de­liver build­ings at very com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, whether it is ten­ders or just the sup­ply of ma­te­ri­als and kits on their own,” he says.

PNG is the com­pany’s main mar­ket, but it is also reg­is­tered in Fiji. Rhodes is also cur­rently di­ver­si­fy­ing into other coun­tries in the Pa­cific.

Pa­pas be­lieves the bar­ri­ers to en­try in PNG are high, which means that once a com­pany is es­tab­lished it is in a po­si­tion of ad­van­tage.

“It takes a while to set up, it takes a while to get your feet on the ground and the right lo­cal peo­ple in place. It is quite dif­fi­cult to do busi­ness some­times.

“Lo­gis­ti­cally, there are some very re­mote ar­eas in PNG, which makes it tough to de­liver

on your con­tracts. You cer­tainly have to keep work­ing at that.”

He says the com­pany has op­er­a­tions across PNG. “The main fa­cil­ity for our man­u­fac­tur­ing and lo­gis­tics plant is in Port Moresby, and there are also re­gional lay down yards in Wabag, Alotau and Arawa to sup­port var­i­ous prov­inces. Then there are the in­di­vid­ual project of­fices.”

Pa­pas says one of the com­pany’s main fo­cuses is on Overseas De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance projects.

“School build­ings we pro­vide are funded mostly by DFAT (the Aus­tralian Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade). And then we do health cen­tres, which are funded by the ADB (the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank).

We do have some hous­ing projects with the likes of Nam­bawan Su­per. We are also in dis­cus­sions with var­i­ous hous­ing au­thor­i­ties in the Pa­cific in or­der to pro­vide af­ford­able hous­ing for the de­mand that ex­ists.”

Rhodes may have a re­gional back-of­fice struc­ture (a pro­cure­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing oper­a­tion in China, a back-end de­sign of­fice in the Philip­pines, a head of­fice in Aus­tralia), but Pa­pas says the op­er­a­tions are very lo­calised.

“I would es­ti­mate that about 95 per cent of our labour force in PNG is na­tional. And I don’t just mean our own lo­cal staff out of our head of­fice in PNG. I mean lo­cal as in the lo­cal vil­lages where our projects are.

“Our typ­i­cal project struc­ture will be a su­per­vi­sor and a lead­ing hand and they will act as su­per­vi­sors and in­struc­tors for the lo­cal vil­lage’s mostly un­skilled labour force. Which, based on our sys­tem, means it doesn’t take long for peo­ple to be­come fa­mil­iar with how it all gets in­stalled.

“We are hav­ing some good suc­cess in train­ing lo­cal peo­ple who can then utilise these newly ac­quired build­ing skills for other projects, or for them­selves in their own ca­pac­ity. It is quite a sat­is­fy­ing out­come at the end of each project.”

Pa­pas be­lieves that PNG is transforming into a coun­try with a bur­geon­ing mid­dle class. “There are skills, there are growth op­por­tu­ni­ties, and there are job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“They (Pa­pua New Guineans) as­pire to get qual­ity hous­ing and a bet­ter-qual­ity life­style and that is where our in­vest­ment is, in terms of pro­vid­ing hous­ing and so­cial in­fra­struc­ture – to sup­port grow­ing and im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

Build­ing up … Emanuel Pa­pas and one of his com­pany’s pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings (right).

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