Em­pow­er­ing In­dus­try and Driv­ing Na­tional De­vel­op­ment

Asia Outlook - - Construction - Writer: Jonathan Dy­ble | Project Man­ager: Dono­van Smith

With a fo­cus on lo­cal peo­ple, part­ner­ships and in­vest­ment, Bish­ops are driv­ing eco­nomic pro­gres­sion

across the Pa­cific Is­lands

Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Is­lands are two coun­tries that are ripe for in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the World Bank, Papua New Guinea’s in­dus­trial sec­tor ac­counted for 44 per­cent of the coun­try’s to­tal GDP in 2012. Whilst such a statis­tic high­lights the im­por­tance of PNG’s key in­dus­tries, such as its min­ing and en­ergy sec­tors, many of its nat­u­ral re­sources are still con­sid­ered to be rel­a­tively un­tapped.

It is these un­ex­ploited re­sources that hold sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial in pow­er­ing the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the Pa­cific Is­lands, some­thing that will sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit the re­gion’s econ­omy and pop­u­la­tion if man­aged in the right way.

Out­lin­ing its own rec­om­mend strat­egy for PNG, the World Bank states the fol­low­ing: “The cur­rent strat­egy aims to en­sure ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of their gen­der, where they live, or their so­cial and eco­nomic cir­cum­stances, will ben­e­fit equally from Papua New Guinea’s de­vel­op­ment goals.”

Whilst there is spec­u­la­tion over whether such a strat­egy will be pur­sued, some that are al­ready heav­ily in­volved in both PNG and the wider re­gion’s de­vel­op­ment pro­cesses are un­grudg­ingly recog­nis­ing these po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

One such com­pany is Bish­ops.

A brief his­tory

“Built from hum­ble be­gin­nings in

1972 and a phi­los­o­phy of con­tin­u­ously rein­vest­ing in the busi­ness and quickly re­spond­ing to the needs of our cus­tomers and the com­mu­nity, Bish­ops has grown to be­come a brand syn­ony­mous with sup­port­ing in­dus­try in Papua New Guinea,” Len Pianta, the Com­pany’s Gen­eral Man­ager, ex­plains.

Formed from the com­bined en­trepreneur­ship and hard work of three broth­ers, Bish­ops was borne out of the cre­ation of two main­te­nance and ma­chin­ing work­shops 45 years ago in Port Moresby and Lae on PNG’s south­ern and eastern shores.

Build­ing from this foun­da­tion, the firm soon es­tab­lished a suc­cess­ful sup­ply chain and pro­cure­ment func­tion and ex­celled. Pianta con­tin­ues: “Be­fore long branches had been es­tab­lished across the coun­try to ser­vice the in­creas­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and min­ing in­dus­tries tak­ing shape in PNG.”

Hav­ing con­tin­ued to de­velop its own net­work, the Com­pany now em­ploys more than 300 lo­cal staff through­out its seven in­dus­trial branches that are si­t­u­ated across PNG and the Solomon Is­lands.

As a re­sult, Bish­ops is now known as the largest sup­plier of in­dus­trial, en­gi­neer­ing and safety prod­ucts across both PNG and the Solomon Is­lands, serv­ing the min­ing and ex­plo­ration, oil & gas, con­struc­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, trans­port and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries, amongst oth­ers.

Staving off the com­pe­ti­tion

Es­tab­lish­ing this ti­tle has not been an easy task for Bish­ops and main­tain­ing its sta­tus has proved to be all the more chal­leng­ing.

As the Solomon Is­lands and PNG have con­tin­u­ally placed greater em­pha­sis on de­vel­op­ing and in­vest­ing in key in­dus­tries and in­fra­struc­ture, this too has at­tracted in­creas­ing in­ter­est from in­ter­na­tional ri­vals.

“The in­dus­try is very com­pet­i­tive with the largest com­pe­ti­tion com­ing from com­pa­nies sourc­ing out of

Aus­tralia and through­out the Asia re­gion,” Pianta ex­plains.

To re­in­force its po­si­tion in the face of such pres­sure, Bish­ops has ded­i­cated it­self to pur­su­ing its key philoso­phies of plac­ing its cus­tomers and the lo­cal com­mu­nity be­fore all else – some­thing that has be­come cul­tur­ally ac­cepted and ap­pre­ci­ated within the Pa­cific Is­lands.

“The thing that de­fines Bish­ops is the ser­vice cul­ture: We ex­ist to serve,” says Pianta. “When new­com­ers to PNG or the Solomon Is­lands ask where to get their in­dus­trial, en­gi­neer­ing or safety needs, lo­cals sim­ply re­ply: Get it at Bish­ops.”

Lo­cal in­vest­ment

This ethos is fur­ther re­flected in the Com­pany’s ap­proach to lo­cal in­vest­ment.

De­spite a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of multi­na­tional busi­nesses cen­tral­is­ing their op­er­a­tions in or­der to re­duce costs and max­imise prof­its, Bish­ops has con­tin­ued rein­vest into PNG and the Solomon Is­lands.

The re­sults of this ap­proach can be seen in the com­pany’s Port Moresby

(10,000 square me­tres), Lae (8,000 square me­tres), Mt Ha­gen (4,000 square me­tres), and Kimbe (4,000 square me­tres) fa­cil­i­ties, each of which have been con­structed in the last 10 years.

“Call it old fash­ioned, but this phi­los­o­phy has served the lo­cal in­dus­try well, and is not some­thing Bish­ops is about to change,” Pianta ex­plains.

With such a sub­stan­tial net­work, the Com­pany now cur­rently holds more than 50 mil­lion kina of stock, bought in from all over the world, that is ready to solely be used in sup­port­ing the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal in­dus­try.

“To­gether with a ded­i­cated sourc­ing team ca­pa­ble of find­ing and im­port­ing just about any­thing a cus­tomer could need to get the job done, Bish­ops has grown to be­come a truly one-stop­shop for lo­cal in­dus­try,” Pianta adds.

Pro­mot­ing part­ner­ships

The sec­ond pil­lar of the World

Bank’s strat­egy for PNG in­volves a key fo­cus on “en­cour­ag­ing pub­licpri­vate col­lab­o­ra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties to fa­cil­i­tate busi­ness and in­vest­ment, while re­mov­ing im­ped­i­ments and in­ef­fi­cien­cies in reg­u­la­tion and re­duc­ing busi­ness costs”, some­thing that Bish­ops is also ac­tively fol­low­ing.

One such ex­am­ple of this is the com­pany’s role in the de­vel­op­ment of PNG’s first ever LNG project.

Dur­ing con­struc­tion, Bish­ops en­sured that the project had a con­tin­ued sup­ply of nec­es­sary equip­ment and key ma­te­ri­als through­out the process – a tes­ta­ment to the suc­cess of its ex­ten­sive pro­cure­ment func­tion.

The firm also con­tin­ues to en­joy other close col­lab­o­ra­tions within the oil & gas in­dus­try, ev­i­dent in its part­ner­ships with Exxon Mo­bile and To­tal SA, amongst other lead­ing names through­out the re­gion.

More­over, the com­pany is also ex­plor­ing po­ten­tial joint ven­tures at both Tabu­bil and Li­hir Is­land in the aim of bet­ter serv­ing its clients Ok Tedi Min­ing and Newcrest.

“Bish­ops is geared to work closely with busi­nesses, whether they be a min­ing or oil & gas ma­jor, or a small lo­cal busi­ness,” clar­i­fies Pianta.

Em­ploy­ment prac­tices

The sec­ond pil­lar also places em­pha­sis on “pro­vid­ing dis­ad­van­taged young peo­ple – par­tic­u­larly those in ur­ban ar­eas – with train­ing, ap­pren­tice­ships and short-term em­ploy­ment to in­crease their em­ploy­a­bil­ity, and cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

Much like its com­mit­ment to in­vest­ing in de­vel­op­ing in­dus­try, Bish­ops takes pride in en­sur­ing that the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion plays a key role in the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the Com­pany and vice versa.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund, ap­prox­i­mately 60 per­cent of the to­tal in­hab­i­tants of PNG are un­der the age of 25, equat­ing to more than 7.3 mil­lion peo­ple.

With such a sig­nif­i­cant pool of labour on its doorstep, Bish­ops looks to en­sure that such tal­ent is not wasted by run­ning in­ter­nal train­ing pro­grammes for lo­cal em­ploy­ees, giv­ing them a plat­form to de­velop their per­sonal skills.

“Cul­tur­ally it is im­por­tant to in­clude the lo­cal com­mu­nity in the op­er­a­tions of a lo­cal branch, and Bish­ops sees the value in lo­cals serv­ing lo­cals, as they tend to be more ac­count­able,” Pianta says. “With more than 40 years in busi­ness, some em­ploy­ees of Bish­ops have re­tired only ever know­ing one em­ployer, and we are very proud of this.”

With a truly hu­man out­look, and such a strong eth­i­cal ap­proach, it is easy to see why Bish­ops has been able to en­trench it­self as the one-stop-shop for lo­cal in­dus­try across both PNG and the Solomon Is­lands.

Bish­ops is geared to work closely with busi­nesses, whether they be a min­ing or oil & gas ma­jor, or a small lo­cal busi­ness

When new­com­ers to PNG or the Solomon Is­lands ask where to get their in­dus­trial, en­gi­neer­ing or safety needs, lo­cals sim­ply re­ply: Get it at Bish­ops

Lu­mina has worked on many award-win­ning projects

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