MPP Civils leads the way in project delivery

MPP Civils Namibia is a leading, bona fide Namibian construction firm founded in 2013. With a combined project and staff experience of over 50 years, the MPP Civils team has become known for its timeous and accurate delivery of client projects. The Windhoek Observer (WO) spoke to MPP Civils Namibia Managing Director, Panashe Daringo (PD), who shared the company’s vision and mission, as well as the array of elements to its unfolding success story.

WO: Can you tell us more about MPP Civils Namibia, including when it was founded and by whom, how many people it employs as well as the company’s vision and mission.
PD: MPP Civils is a leading, growth-orientated indigenous construction and construction management company. The organisation was founded in 2013 by Michael Maxwell, myself and Peter Chiwandamira, and has grown in leaps and bounds.

MPP Civils has successfully built a reputation in the construction industry as a results-oriented youth-owned and operated contractor. Currently, the company employs over 200 employees (80 percent youth) and considers itself as the preferred contractor. We founded the organisation on the motto of ‘delivering conforming building projects and services that exceed our clients expectations’. To this end, we adopted and implemented the industry’s leading technologies and systems, to assist us in delivering on our commitment. Systems bring consistency and structure to an organisation and its processes, so it was paramount that we spent our first year developing and refining all the procedures within the company. Today, we have a team of dedicated young Namibians, who effectively maintain a world-class construction company that turns over millions of dollars monthly.

WO: What services do you offer?
PD: We offer professional construction and building services, with the highest degrees of quality and workmanship.

WO: What makes MPP Civils unique?
PD: MPP Civils Namibia is unique because we have orientated our organisation around the customer. Our clients demand the highest degree of quality in the shortest possible time, at the best price. This is all largely done with a local labour force of varying experience and skill levels that is supervised by trained consulting engineers and architects. To maintain balance in this ‘project management triple constraint’, we built our organisation around the customer and his needs. We implement and maintain an integrated quality management system, which revolves around the customer, with several by-products and measuring tools.  These include internal audits, satisfaction surveys to monitor feedback, and most importantly, continual improvement to ensure that the lessons learned resonates throughout all departments and projects.

The ability to manage non-conformance to agreed standards, and implement preventative measures that mitigate deviations, also has a sizeable contribution on how we maintain our market share.

We acknowledge that we may make mistakes at times, but it’s important to be the first to say ‘I’m wrong, and this is what I’ve done to correct and prevent the same thing from recurring’.
We are the first locally ISO 9001 certified contractor through the Namibian Standards Institute (NSI) and subscribe to industry health and safety best practices. We are proud winners of the 2016 SADC Service Award competition and recipients of the 2016 African Leadership Magazine’s Excellent Service Delivery Award.

WO: Can you tell us about the projects the company has been involved in over the years and what they entailed?
PD: We have successfully completed various projects that showcase our team’s diversity and ability to manage multiple construction activities. These include the design and construction of grain storage facilities in Shadikongoro, large earthwork platforms for various substations across the country, access roads in Masivi, Shiyambi and Otavi, the construction of warehouses and offices, bitumen road upgrades, specialised concrete and mechanical works and lots more. We do projects for both government and private industry.

WO: Of these, which project would you say was the biggest?
PD: Arguably, our most complex project was the construction of a cow parlour in Uvungu Vhungu. The project entailed the construction of two cow houses (to accommodate over 1,000 cows), a specialised cow parlour with a 50-point rotary table, a sick, lame and lazy shed and a maternity ward and calf handling facilities. The client for the project was the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the project was built over 12 months. Throughout the construction, 18 sub-contractors were used, while over 250 Namibians were employed, and over 2,000m³ of concrete was poured under the scorching Kavango sun.

WO: Which projects are currently underway?
PD: We are currently busy with civil works for the SME Park in Outapi, the construction of 10 gravel roads in Otjimbingwe, storm water canals in Eenhana and we have recently been awarded a reservoir building contract in the Omusati region. We are also in the process of handing over a design and construction project of two hectares of green houses in the Kavango, and at an advanced stage with the bitumen upgrade for Maria Mwengere Road in Rundu.

WO: What projects are in the pipeline?
PD: Currently, with the decrease in government projects, we are looking at several private developments. We have two developments that are at an advanced stage. One of these involves the development of Kaisosi Extension 10 in Rundu. The project involves the construction of over 320 residential houses, services to the 30 hectares of virgin land, the construction of four residential complexes and institutional buildings. Construction is scheduled to begin in December 2016.

WO: What new exciting developments, in terms of company growth, are envisaged going forward?
PD: We consider ourselves as pacesetters and trendsetters. With a growing construction market, we intend on becoming certified for health, safety and environmental ISO standards by 2019.
Currently, there are no locally certified contractors for these standards and we intend on achieving that, as yet another milestone. We intend to employ more youth shareholders in the second quarter of the year and increase efficiencies, through all our departments and projects. From a national point of view, we anxiously await and welcome the introduction of the Construction Council in Namibia, to regulate our industry.

WO: Can you tell us a bit more about the executive or management team and their backgrounds?
PD: I am the co-founder and MD of the organisation. I attended primary school at Constantia Primary in Pioneer’s Park and high school at Academia Secondary School.  I studied civil engineering (national diploma) in South Africa at Tshwane University of Technology and was employed by Stefanutti Stocks from 2009 to 2014.

I am an active member of the TC006 Building Standards Committee with the NSI and an EXCO member of the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF). I am also the chairman of the Namibian Standards Sub-Committee.

Michael Maxwell is a co-founder and non-executive director of MPP Civils Namibia. He studied accounting at Pretoria University and is currently employed by PwC. Michael did his primary school at Constantia and high school at St Pauls in Windhoek. Other directors and members of the management team are: Contracts Director, Tuli Nashidengo (BSc Holder and PR Eng.) and Contracts Manager, Brandon Overbury (B Tech – PMP). In addition, the company has six heads of departments and six site agents.

WO: Can you tell us a bit more about the MPP Civils BRIDGE program?
PD: BRIDGE stands for Building Relationships, Influencing Change, Developing Goals and Experiencing goals. The MPP Civils BRIDGE program is a comprehensive internship experience for undergraduates seeking a career in construction. The BRIDGE program is more than an in-service job – it’s a professional and educational process that prepares students for a successful transition to a challenging and rewarding career. It’s also a chance for MPP Civils to see students in action. We match the talents and interests of today’s brightest minds to the emerging needs of our business. Currently, we have eight students that are part of our BRIDGE program. Applications to join the program can be done on our website at www.mppcivils.com.

WO: Tell us more about the successes and challenges the company has experienced and what it has done to overcome some of these challenges.
PD: Some of our successes include:
– being a founding member of the Namibia Green Build Council;
– CIF Cat B membership (annual turnover between N$100 and 200 million) with EXCO representation;
– 2015 NSI Quality Awards 1st place winner: Service Delivery (SME);
– 2015 NSI Quality Awards 2nd place winner: Quality Company (SME);
– 2016 SADC winner at the annual awards – Service Delivery; and
– ISO 9001 Certification for Quality Assurance.

Some of our challenges include:
Cash flow: The construction industry is arguably the most difficult industry to survive in. We often tender for margins below 3 percent, in order to maintain overheads. Understanding how to manage money is definitely one of the biggest challenges.

This is often aggregated by delayed payments, low productivity, excess wastage and inclement weather. Collateral for performance guarantees and insurances was another challenge in the beginning, but with the support of non-collateral insurances like ARCH, we were able to overcome this hurdle.

WO: Is the company being affected by the slowdown in the construction industry as well as the water challenges being experienced in the central areas? What measures are in place to deal with these?
PD: The company is definitely being affected by the construction slowdown. Last month we retrenched over 50 employees and anticipate more terminations in the near future. Our industry is highly dependent on government financing and is suffering significantly.  Delayed payments also affect the normal order of business as sub-contractors and suppliers depend on our payments. This ripple effect has left a sizeable negative effect on our operations. To mitigate these challenges, we’ve revised our tendering strategy to suit our chosen focus. We have started tendering for more private projects or those that are not dependent on the capital budget. We still, however, engage the government to reserve smaller contracts for the local emerging contractor.